RICHMOND, Va. -- The Virginia General Assembly begins this year’s legislative session Wednesday as the Commonwealth continues to wrestle with the impacts of a global pandemic that’s shut down schools, closed businesses and left more than 5,000 Virginians dead in last 10 months, including a state senator.
Lawmakers plan to tackle the fallout from COVID-19, virtual schooling, paid sick days and recreational marijuana, which are just a few of the issues expected to make headlines during the 2021 session.
But because of the pandemic, the session will look much like last year's special session where lawmakers met remotely, away from the Capitol, in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The House of Delegates plans to meet remotely, while the Senate will meet at a large conference center at the Science Museum of Virginia.
"On one hand it’s a little more complicated for them to do all their work,” Dr. Bob Holsworth, a political analyst for WTVR CBS 6, said. “It’s also complicated for the citizens and the lobby groups and the interest groups that want to meet with legislators during session, because it’s not so easy to do so when you have to get time on their laptop."
Republicans have said they will block any extension of the session, which is set to last at least 30 days, as they have previously done for even-year sessions.
However, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam has said he will call a special session if they impede an extension.