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General Assembly Overtime: Lawmakers agree on 2-year budget; will return for Sunday session

Posted at 12:30 AM, Mar 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-08 00:30:22-05

RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia lawmakers will return to the General Assembly for an overtime session Sunday to finish work on several bills after budget negotiators announced they reached an agreement on the two-year spending plan late Saturday.

Lawmakers, who were supposed to finish their work for the 2020 session by midnight, did manage to finish dozens of bills before the deadline.

Two major gun laws, one that stiffened background checks for gun purchases and the other reinstated the one handgun purchase per month law, were finalized Saturday.

Both bills, which gun rights advocates vocally opposed, cleared the House and Senate.

Gov. Ralph Northam praised the bills.

"Today, this year, Virginia has said enough is enough,” Northam wrote. “The emergency of gun violence must end. This legislation will help get us there."

Additionally, a compromise emerged Saturday on Virginia’s minimum wage that would increase it to $15 per hour statewide, but not regionally.

The increase would be gradual, getting to $12 in three years before reaching $15 until 2026.

Supporters called it an overdue raise for minimum wage workers, but critics said the bill was rushed and that small businesses will cut jobs for young and low skill workers.

Both chambers passed amended bills with the same language, but those bills must crossover again before they are finalized.

Undocumented Virginians could soon get drivers privilege cards, but state lawmakers stopped short of giving full drivers licenses to those living illegally in the Commonwealth.

Changes could also be coming to Virginia ballot booths as a bill stripping Virginia’s photo ID law cleared the General Assembly Saturday.

When lawmakers return Sunday they will continue to tackle bills on marijuana decriminalization, casino gaming, the removal of confederate war monuments, sports betting and redistricting.

One GOP lawmaker said it was "nuts" that there was so much work left to finish on the final day of the session.