Struggling with a Divided Legislature

Virginia has a divided legislature going into Wednesday's opening of the 2008 General Assembly session, when lawmakers meet for a scheduled 60 days to draft a budget and act on thousands of other measures.

Governor Tim Kaine and his predecessor, fellow Democrat Mark Warner, had to contend with a Republican House and Senate.

Democrats took over the Senate in the November elections, leaving the GOP weakened. But nothing can get done without the cooperation of the Republican House.

Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, predicts gridlock. He says the House is "in no mood to compromise."

The last two even-year budget sessions went far beyond 60 days, stretching into May in 2004 and August in 2006. And that was with the GOP in control in both chambers.

Farnsworth says most conservative House Republicans are in seats made safe by gerrymandering, so they risk little politically by thwarting the Democrats.


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