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Virginia General Assembly kicks off 2022 session

Virginia Senate
Posted at 5:06 AM, Jan 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-12 14:31:22-05

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Virginia General Assembly convened its 2022 session Wednesday in Richmond, under newly divided party control.

Lawmakers will be meeting for 60 days to craft a two-year state budget and take up issues ranging from education to marijuana policy to public safety.

The bills they pass will head to the desk of incoming GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who will be sworn in Saturday.

In the House of Delegates, where every seat was on the ballot in November and where Republicans will enjoy a new majority, members took their oaths of office and quickly elected a new House speaker.

Democrats joined with Republicans in voting for Del. Todd Gilbert, an attorney from the Shenandoah Valley who most recently served as minority leader, to preside over the chamber.

In the 40-member state Senate, where no seats were up for election last year, Democrats will maintain a razor-thin majority. Incoming Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears will preside over the chamber after she's sworn in, also Saturday. Sears will be the first woman to serve in the role and only the second in Virginia's history to hold statewide office.

Outgoing Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam will deliver his final annual “State of the Commonwealth” address to lawmakers on Wednesday night.

Northam, a pediatric neurologist who was prohibited by Virginia law from seeking a second consecutive term in office, is set to rejoin his medical practice in Norfolk next week.