Virginia General Assembly
|Virginia General Assembly|
|2013 session start:||January 11, 2012|
|Website:||Official Legislature Page|
|Senate President:||Walter Stosch (R)|
|House Speaker:||William J. Howell (R)|
|Majority Leader:|| Thomas Norment (R) (Senate),|
Morgan Griffith (R) (House)
|Minority leader:|| Dick Saslaw (D) (Senate),|
Ward Armstrong (D) (House)
|Members:||40 (Senate), 100 (House)|
|Length of term:||4 years (Senate), 2 years (House)|
|Authority:||Art IV, Virginia Constitution|
|Salary:||$17,640/year + per diem|
|Last Election:||November 7, 2009 100 seats (House)|
|Next election:||November 8, 2011 |
40 seats (Senate)
100 seats (House)
|Redistricting:||Virginia Legislature has control|
The General Assembly is a bicameral body consisting of a lower house, the Virginia House of Delegates, with 100 members, and an upper house, the Virginia State Senate, with 40 members. The House of Delegates is presided over by a Speaker of the House, while the Senate of Virginia is presided over by the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. The House and Senate each elect a clerk and sergeant-at-arms. Unlike the United States Senate, the Senate of Virginia's clerk is known as the "Clerk of the Senate", instead of the title "Secretary of the Senate" used in the U.S. Senate.
The General Assembly meets in Virginia's capital, Richmond. When sitting in Richmond, the General Assembly holds sessions in the Virginia State Capitol, designed by Thomas Jefferson in 1788 and expanded in 1904. The building was renovated in 2005-2006. Senators and Delegates have their offices in the General Assembly Building across the street directly north of the Capitol. The Governor of Virginia lives across the street directly east of the Capitol in the Virginia Governor's Mansion.
The Virginia General Assembly is the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere. It previously met in Jamestown, Virginia from 1619 until 1699, when it moved to [Williamsburg, Virginia and met in the colonial Capitol. The government was moved to Richmond in 1780 during the administration of Governor Thomas Jefferson, and the General Assembly has met there ever since.
Article IV of the Virginia Constitution establishes when the General Assembly is to be in session. Section 6 of Article IV states that the General Assembly is to convene annually on the second Wednesday in January. In even-numbered years, regular sessions are limited to sixty days. In odd-numbered years, regular sessions are limited to thirty days. Section 6 allows the General Assembly to extend its regular sessions by thirty days if two-thirds of each house vote to extend the session.
Section 6 allows the Governor of Virginia to convene special sessions of the General Assembly. Section 6 also allows for a special session to be called when it is requested by two-thirds of the members of each house.
- See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions
In 2012, the General Assembly was in regular session from January 11 through March 10.
With the Senate tied 20-20, control of the chamber will be a major issue. Republicans, using the tie-breaking vote of Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, claim control of the chamber, but Democrats are challenging in court. The General Assembly will take up Governor Bob McDonnell's proposed $85 billion budget, job creation, economic development, and a proposal to end the 30-year-old moratorium on uranium mining.
- See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions
In 2011, the Legislature was in regular session from January 12 through February 27. On February 27, a special redistricting session was convened. A reconvened session will begin on April 6 at 12 p.m. to consider any Governor's amendments and/or vetoes to legislation passed by the General Assembly. This is the only business that can occur during the reconvened session. 
A second special session convened June 9 and lasted through July 29. The session was called to elect judges to the state Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals.
- See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions
The Senate of Virginia is the upper house of the Virginia General Assembly. It is composed of 40 Senators and is presided over by the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. Prior to Independence, the other part of government was represented by the Governor's Council, a upper house made up of executive counselors appointed by the Governor as advisers. Each member represents an average of 200,026 residents, as of the 2010 Census. After the 2000 Census, each member represented 176,963.
The lieutenant governor, unlike the Vice President of the United States in the United States Senate, presides daily over the Virginia Senate. In the lieutenant governor's absence, a president pro tempore presides, usually a powerful member of the majority party. The Senate is coequal with the House of Delegates, the lower chamber of the legislature, except that taxation bills must originate in the House, just like in the U.S. Congress.
Virginia senators are elected every four years by the voters of the several senatorial districts on the Tuesday succeeding the first Monday in November. The last such election took place on 6 November 2007.
In the 2007 election, the Democratic Party reclaimed the majority in the Senate for the first time since 1999, when the Republican Party took control of the Senate for the first time in history. Following the 2007 election, the Senate will shift from a 23-17 Republican advantage to a 21-19 Democratic advantage.
|Party||As of May 2013|
House of Delegates
The Virginia House of Delegates is the lower house of the Virginia General Assembly. It has 100 members elected for terms of two years; unlike most states, these elections take place during odd-numbered years. Each member represents an average of 80,010 residents, as of the 2010 Census. After the 2000 Census, each member represented 70,785. The House is presided over by the Speaker of the House, who is elected from among the House membership by the Delegates. The Speaker is almost always a member of the majority party and, as Speaker, becomes the most powerful member of the House. The House shares legislative power with the Senate of Virginia, the upper house of the Virginia General Assembly. The House of Delegates is the modern-day successor to the Virginia House of Burgesses. The House is divided into Democratic and Republican caucuses. In addition to the Speaker, there is a majority leader, majority caucus chair, minority leader, minority caucus chair, and the chairs of the several committees of the House. The Virginia House of Delegates is considered the oldest continuous legislative body in the New World, having been formed as the House of Burgesses at Jamestown in 1619.
The House has met in Virginia's Capitol Building, designed by Thomas Jefferson, since 1788. In recent years, the General Assembly members and staff operate from offices in the General Assembly Building, located in Capitol Square.
Republicans took control of the traditionally Democratic House of Delegates for the first time since Reconstruction in 1999 (with the exception of a brief 2 year period in which the Readjuster Party was in the majority in the 1880s). However, the Democrats began making a comeback under the leadership of Governors Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, gaining 6 seats during Warner's term in office (2002-2006), and 1 in a special election at the beginning of Kaine's term.
The current make-up is 53 Republicans, 44 Democrats, 2 Independents, and 1 vacancy.
- See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries
As of 2010, members of the Virginia Legislature are paid $18,000/year in the Senate and $17,640 in the House. Senators receive $169/day per diem tied to the federal rate and House members receive $135/day tied to the federal rate.
The $18,000/year and $17,640 that Virginia legislators are paid as of 2010 is the same as they were paid during legislative sessions in 2007. Per diem has increased from $140/day in the Senate in 2007 to $169/day in 2010. House per diem is the same.
When sworn in
Virginia legislators assume office the second Wednesday in January after the election.
Joint legislative committees
The Virginia General Assembly has no joint standing committees. There are over 100 smaller joint commissions currently.
- ↑ StateScape, Session schedules, accessed April 30, 2012
- ↑ Richmond Times Dispatch, "Fight to control Senate highlights start of session," January 11, 2012
- ↑ Virginia General Assembly
- ↑ Post Local, Va. assembly to vote Friday on Supreme Court, appeals judges, July 29, 2011
- ↑ 2010 session dates for Virginia legislature
- ↑ Population in 2010 of the American states
- ↑ Population in 2000 of the American states
- ↑ Population in 2010 of the American states
- ↑ Population in 2000 of the American states
- ↑ National Conference of State Legislatures, "2010 Legislator Compensation Data"
- ↑ Empire Center, "Legislative Salaries Per State as of 2007"
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