Northam calls General Assembly special session to start Feb. 10
Will begin immediately after close of 30-day regular session
In a proclamation Thursday, Gov. Ralph Northam said he will call the General Assembly back to work next Wednesday for a special session immediately following the end of the 30-day regular session. In effect, the order will expand the 2021 General Assembly session to its typical length of 46 days.
The reason behind the proclamation is a partisan battle over the length of the regular session this year; usually the 30-day short session is extended to 46 days, but Republicans declined to support the extension measure, which requires two-thirds of the vote by the state Senate and House of Delegates.
In an interview with Virginia Business before this year’s session began, House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, said that an extended session was not necessary because state legislators met for a record 84-day session last fall and had adjusted the state’s budget to reflect the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I don’t know how necessary 2½ months of special session was when, frankly, all Democrats did was make life a lot harder on police and a lot easier on criminals in that special session,” Gilbert added, referring to a large slate of policing and civil rights measures voted in by the Democratic majority after a summer of social justice protests.
Northam said he would call a special session after it became clear Republican lawmakers weren’t going to support lengthening the session, which led to limits on the number of bills delegates and senators could file. Friday is crossover day, the deadline for the House and the Senate to send over passed bills to the other body for consideration. Due to COVID-19 concerns, the state Senate has convened at the Science Museum of Virginia, and the House is convening virtually.
“People across our commonwealth are facing tremendous challenges, and they expect their elected officials to deliver results,” Northam said in a statement Thursday. “I look forward to continuing our work together to move Virginia forward.”