GOP Gov. Youngkin Already Rankling Virginia Dems With High Veto Count

GOP Gov. Youngkin Already Rankling Virginia Dems With High Veto Count GOP Gov. Youngkin Already Rankling Virginia Dems With High Veto Count Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin gives the inaugural address after being sworn in. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

By Jay Clemons | Wednesday, 13 April 2022 04:06 PM

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin has quickly become a source of contention among Virginia Democrats.

On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported the new Virginia governor has already vetoed 26 bills during his short time in office — including some measures that had garnered "broad bipartisan support."

Youngkin has only vetoed roughly 3.2% of the bills that approached his desk. Still, it's enough to rankle the Democratic leaders, some of whom might be having trouble adjusting to a Republican overseeing the state.

Since 2002, only two Republican leaders have served as the Virginia governor — Youngkin and Robert McDonnell (2010-14).

"It's not clear to me why the governor thinks that he's got the monopoly of what's right for Virginia when these bills have already been vetted by bipartisan majorities," said Democratic Sen. Scott Surovell, who sponsored two bills Youngkin vetoed.

It's worth noting: Democrats are lamenting how none of the Youngkin vetoes applied to bills primarily sponsored by Republicans.

Also, Youngkin has apparently posted the highest veto count of any first-year Virginia governor since 1998, when Republican Jim Gilmore overruled 37 bills, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

By comparison, Youngkin's predecessor, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, only had 20 vetoes in Year 1 of his term.

Among the prominent bills vetoed by Youngkin:

• A bill prohibiting heavy truck operators from using cruise control or compression-release engine breaks while driving in active snow, sleet, or freezing rain. This measure might help alleviate snowy traffic jams on Interstate 95 — arguably the busiest rush-hour freeway in America.

• A bill prohibiting high school student athletes from receiving compensation in exchange for the use of their name, image, or likeness. (In college sports, athletes are essentially free to make NIL-rights deals with reputable companies.)

• A bill establishing a three-year statute of limitations on the collection of medical debt.

• A measure that would have prohibited insurers from including a surcharge on the insurance premiums of tobacco users.

"Requiring non-tobacco users to cover the increased healthcare costs associated with tobacco use is not a policy I can support," said Youngkin recently.

Democratic Sen. Adam Ebbin believes there's a direct reason for Youngkin's high veto count: It's apparently payback for the Democrats blocking Youngkin's cabinet nomination for Virginia's secretary of natural and historical resources, Andrew Wheeler.

The state's General Assembly has the option of overriding the Youngkin vetoes when it reconvenes later in April.

However, for any bills to be overturned, it would require a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and Senate chambers.

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