By the SEMA Washington, D.C., office
The legislation, filed by Delegate Tony Wilt and Senator Richard Stuart, follows SEMA's first-ever independent expenditure effort in Virginia's November elections around the state's attachment to California's emissions standards, including its impending zero-emissions vehicle mandates. The mandates would require that all sales of new cars and trucks be 100% zero emissions by 2035. However, earlier mandates start in 2026, with 35% of new vehicle sales required to be zero emissions.
If passed, the companion bills would repeal Virigina's zero-emissions vehicle mandates set to take effect by 2035.
SEMA's Driving Force Action targeted four senate races in November, educating voters about the Commonwealth's attachment to California's regulations. Three of the four senate candidates in those races won. One critical race that was influenced in this cycle was District 24, where candidate Sheriff Danny Diggs defeated the incumbent, Senator Monty Mason, a staunch supporter of the internal combustion engine (ICE) ban policy and the deciding vote to block the repeal of Virginia's ICE ban law earlier this year. Other notable shifts were in District 17, where Emily Brewer defeated Clinton Jenkins, and District 27, where Tara Durant upset Joel Griffin. The candidates who won committed to repealing the ZEV mandate. SEMA's Driving Force Action campaign was active in educating voters about the ZEV mandate in these districts. A complete post-election analysis of the Driving Force Action campaign can be downloaded here.
Polling conducted statewide in Virginia by SEMA in late 2022 showed that 81% of Virginia voters had heard little or nothing at all about the ban. The same poll showed that once voters learned of the ban, 62% opposed it. Driving Force Action conducted a short IVR poll in mid-October to test awareness of Virginia's attachment to California's ban on the sale of new gas-powered cars, following six weeks of education in the four senate district races the campaign targeted. There was a significant increase in awareness, with only 16% of Republican and 12% of Independent voters unaware of the issue. This poll also showed that a majority of Republican and Independent voters would support a candidate if they supported the repeal of Virginia's ICE-ban law.
Voters acknowledged that prioritizing the green agenda of California's unelected bureaucrats and a select few politicians over the jobs and livelihoods of millions who use cars every day was not something lawmakers should pursue.
SEMA calls on Virginia's newly elected legislators to support these two repeal bills.