Senator Aaron Rouse Sends Twelve Bills To The Governor’s Desk That Would Grow Our Economy, Protect Workers, and Build a Stronger Commonwealth for All Virginians

Today, the Virginia General Assembly adjourned sine die, marking Senator Aaron Rouse’s second session representing Virginia Beach. Twelve of the bills that Senator Rouse patroned now head to Governor Youngkin for consideration. Governor Youngkin has already provided a recommended amendment to SB189, which the General Assembly will consider. 

Senator Rouse made the following statement regarding this year’s General Assembly session: “I came to the Senate committed to safeguarding our elections and voting rights, strengthening our middle class and our workforce, and advocating for our military and veterans community. In the twelve bills that made it through both chambers—many with bipartisan support—I put those priorities first. Now, it rests on the Governor to sign these bills into law.”

Protecting Voting Rights: After thousands of voters were purged from the voter rolls, Senator Rouse made it a priority to ensure no Governor – Democrat or Republican – could do so again by passing SB300

After a Federal judge ruled that Virginia Beach’s voting system was illegal, denying “Hispanics, African Americans, and Asians equal access to the electoral and political process,” the first election under the new district voting system elected the youngest, most diverse Council in the city’s history. Senator Rouse’s SB188 and SB189 would formally codify the Judge’s ruling, amending the City Charter and permanently implementing a fair voting system in the City.  

Growing Virginia’s Economy: Through the pandemic, “Cocktails-to-go” and skilled games were a lifeline for small businesses across the Commonwealth. Senator Rouse’s SB212 and SB635 would provide additional revenue streams for Virginia small businesses by regulating skill games and extending Virginia’s “cocktails to go” policy, which allows bars and restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages for takeout.

Senator Rouse’s SB448 establishes a marijuana retail market and regulatory structure inclusive of Virginia’s small and midsize businesses. This legislation would legalize cannabis sales starting in 2025, and allow all medical marijuana companies already operating in Virginia and new businesses to begin retail sales at the same time. 

Supporting Veterans and Military Families: Senator Rouse’s SB343 will give localities the flexibility to attract businesses and services to military-centered communities and is one more tool that can improve the quality of life of military personnel assigned nearby. This legislation will incentivize businesses to provide quality and safe housing for our military members and their families in vibrant communities. After the findings of the investigation into the suicides among sailors assigned to the carrier George Washington, the U.S. Navy committed itself to quality-of-life reforms for carrier sailors in shipyards. In our current budget, Newport News is allotted $40 million dollars in state funding “to build infrastructure to house and care for sailors who reside in Newport News when a ship is being built, overhauled, or otherwise in a maintenance shipbuilding facility.” 

Military families move, on average, every 2.5 years, every move bringing significant change and the need to start anew for the entire family. Military members rent an estimated 95% of storage units near military bases. Senator Rouse’s SB355 modernizes the Virginia Self-Storage Act to allow rental agreements to be delivered and accepted electronically. 

Strengthening and Protecting Virginia’s Workforce:  In order to attract and retain a vibrant, highly skilled workforce in Virginia, we must strive to be one of the best states for businesses where workers are protected and strengthened. Senator Rouse’s SB634 adds considerations for the State Corporation Commission relating to public utilities such as public safety, promotion of workforce development and maintenance of fair labor standards. 

Senator Rouse’s SB650 convenes a workgroup to identify options available to local government employees who respond to emergencies that expose them to toxic materials. On April 6, 2012, Good Friday, an F/A 18D Navy jet crashed into the Mayfair Mews Apartments on Birdneck Road in Virginia Beach. Six hazardous agents were identified as present in the aftermath of the jet crash.

The full list of bills include SB182, SB184, SB188, SB189, SB212, SB300, SB343 , SB355, SB448,  SB634, SB635, and SB650. 

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