Speaker-elect Don Scott has announced several committee chairs for the upcoming legislative session now that Democrats have the majority in the chamber. Democrats held the majority two years ago, but there has been some overturn within their ranks since that time.
Several delegates who chaired committees in 2020 and 2021 will be returning to their roles in January – but a few committees will have new leadership for the new session. These positions will become effective upon Scott’s expected election as Speaker by the House of Delegates on January 10.
The man Scott appointed to chair the Appropriations Committee, the group of lawmakers deciding which legislation will actually receive funding, is Del. Luke Torian. He held this role during the 2020 and 2021 sessions when Democrats were in the majority.
Torian has been serving in the House since 2010.
“Torian has the experience, the institutional knowledge, and background to run this committee and ensure that it works to create a Commonwealth that works for Virginia families. I eagerly look forward to seeing all he does as Chairman,” Scott said when he reappointed him to the position.
“I look forward to leading the Committee’s work to ensure that the Commonwealth is the best place for hard working Virginians to raise their families and run a business,” Torian said in the announcement last month.
Del. Jeion Ward will once again be the chair of the House Committee on Labor and Commerce, formerly known as the Commerce and Energy Committee. She became the first Black person to chair a Commerce committee in the Virginia House during the 2020 session. She has served in the House since 2004.
“Back in 2020, we were in a place where Virginia was the worst place for workers – but when we held the majority, we moved Virginia forward,” Ward said. “I know we can return Virginia to a place that is great for business and for workers. I look forward to doing that work again.”
Del. Mark Sickles will return to his role as chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, formerly known as the Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee. He chaired this committee in 2020 and 2021 and has served in the House since 2004.
“I thank the Speaker-designee for his confidence as we continue to work to lower Virginia’s uninsured rate, address the behavioral health crisis in our communities, provide services for our intellectually disabled, and end the opioid epidemic in the Commonwealth,” Sickles said.
Del. Vivian Watts will return to her position as chair of the House Finance Committee. She served as chair in 2020 and 2021. Watts was first elected to the House in 1981 before leaving to serve as Gov. Gerald Baliles Secretary of Transportation and Public Safety in 1986. She was then elected to the House again in 1996 and has served ever since.
“I am looking forward to working with my colleagues to make sure all Virginians are treated fairly and our economy thrives by modernizing state and local taxes for hardworking residents and businesses,” Watts said.
Del. Patrick Hope was selected to chair the Courts of Justice Committee. He has served in the House since 2010.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead the House Courts of Justice Committee, the second oldest standing committee in the Virginia General Assembly,” Hope said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues as we continue to make improvements to our civil and criminal justice system.”
Del. Sam Rasoul (Roanoke) was tapped to be the new chair of the Education Committee. Rasoul has served in the House since 2014.
“I am looking forward to ensuring that Virginia’s children receive the best education possible. It is important that our students, teachers, and staff are provided all the resources necessary to thrive at every school across the Commonwealth,” Rasoul said.
“Rasoul has been a champion for public education and has the grit to take on the biggest challenges facing our education system. I look forward to his accomplishments as Chairman,” Scott said in the appointment announcement.
Del. Cia Price (Newport News) was selected to chair the House Privileges and Elections Committee. She has been serving in the House since 2016.
“All my life, I have been passionate about protecting our democracy and was proud to lead the fight for the Voting Rights Act of Virginia,” Price said. “The gravity of this moment is not lost on me and I carry it with me into the work to stand firm in the face of those who seek to undermine our voting rights and sabotage our elections. Virginia has become a bastion of democracy in the South, and no amount of disinformation or intimidation will stop the committee’s work from protecting voting rights.”
Scott still has to appoint chairs for Communications, Technology, and Innovation; Counties, Cities, and Towns; General Laws; Public Safety; Rules; Transportation; Health, Welfare, and Institutions; and Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources Committees.
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