Virginia General Assembly begins regular session

Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 6:28 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — The regular session of the Virginia General Assembly began Wednesday, and looked different than in previous years due to the pandemic.

All of the members of the House of Delegates met through Zoom and voted virtually.

After recognizing Southwest Virginia Senator Ben Chafin’s recent passing, delegates began voting on logistics for how the session would go. One of the resolutions voted on was whether to have the session last 30 days or 45 days.

Valley Delegate Todd Gilbert argued that they could not have the full session meeting virtually because it is harder to communicate.

“When we find the opportunity to come out of this cloud that we’re under and once again do our jobs in person and in the right way but until then, I think stringing this out for 45 days is unnecessary, and I would again ask the members to defeat the resolution,” Gilbert said.

The Virginia Senate met in-person sitting socially distanced and masked, with a few calling in virtually. The big topic of the day was House-Joint Resolution 575, or deciding to have a 30-day session or a 45-day session.

There was debate over this in the Senate as well. Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw argued that because of the pandemic, they should allow for more time.

“We’re gonna have at least a 46-day session regardless. So, why not just realize this is just a fact of life. It’s an unpleasant fact of life, but it’s a fact of life, and just vote for it?”

The Senate could not come to an agreement, so they voted to suspend the resolution. Governor Ralph Northam announced Wednesday that he will introduce a bill to the general assembly to abolish the death penalty.

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