RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A newly empowered Republican majority assumed control of the Virginia House of Delegates on Wednesday as the General Assembly opened its 2022 session under divided party control.
Members of the House and Democrat-controlled Senate will be meeting for 60 days to craft a two-year state budget and take up bills covering a range of sometimes conflicting priorities on issues including education, marijuana policy, public safety and voting rights.
The bipartisan dynamic and the compromise it will require will mark a dramatic shift from the past two years, when Democrats were in full control of state government. Republicans not only flipped the House in November but also won election to all three statewide offices. Bills that pass the General Assembly will head to the desk of incoming GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who will be sworn in Saturday.
“Our agenda for 2022 is a direct response to what we heard from voters on the campaign trail,” Del. Todd Gilbert, the new House speaker, said at a news conference. “Throughout the campaign, voters consistently told us they were worried about their children’s education, inflation was making it harder to take care of their families, and they wanted to see the safety of their communities improved.”
Senate Democrats, meanwhile, said they were ready to protect their party’s gains made in the past two years.