Today marks the opening session of the “oldest continuous lawmaking body” in the world, dating back to Jamestown and the House of Burgess in 1619. This a “short session,” meeting for only 45 days, ending on February 25th. Thousands of bills have already been filed by legislators to be voted up or down.
There are 100 members of the House of Delegates and 40 members of the Senate. They will be wrestling with a budget shortfall of $1.26 billion.
Tonight Governor McAuliffe will come before the lawmakers in his “State of the Commonwealth” address to explain his priorities for his last year in office. The Governor wants more money to treat mental illness and substance abuse. Lawmakers would like to increase the pay of teachers and state employees while balancing the budget.
The Governor has made it clear that he will veto any so called “bathroom bill” that would require people to use the restroom of their biological gender and not whatever gender they feel like today. Governor McAuliffe stated his objections:
Do not think for one second that these discriminatory bills on LGBT members…they are job killers. Companies have opportunities to go all over the globe. And go to 50 states, they are not going to a state that is putting walls up around them.”
House Majority Leader, Kirk Cox, responded:
I think it’s getting too much attention. It’s ironic the governor talks about being open for business, then talks about social issues.”
Another change this year is General Assembly committees (where the sausage is made) will be videoed and archived. General Assembly sessions will be broadcast live and for the first time they too will be archived.