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General Assembly Convenes

By: Whitney Holmes
By: Whitney Holmes

The General Assembly convened Jan. 12. Typical of the first day, not much was accomplished. They passed some bills left over from the last session and others to get the ball rolling for this session. Most committees won't meet until Monday, although the court committees did meet.

The current session is a short one, only 46 days long, because lawmakers don't have to develop the budget. Instead, they need to examine some big bills for the future.

Delegate Mitch Van Yahres is trying to appeal the Marriage Affirmation Act, which bans not just civil unions, but any “marriage look–alikes.” In contrast, there is a bill to start the process to amend the Constitution with the Marriage Affirmation Act ideology.

Contraception and abortion is another big issue. Last October, a Senate committee passed a bill that basically equates birth control with abortion. A new House bill to be introduced will state the opposite.

In addition, the General Assembly faces Attorney General Kilgore's proposed legislation called the Death Penalty Enhancement Act. The most important issue in this bill is the call to eliminate the Triggerman Rule, which states only the person that pulled the trigger can be on death row. This was inspired by the Sniper Trial.

The Assembly also faces another bill to start the Constitution amendment process. This bill seeks to allow the Governor to serve for two terms. Virginia is the only state in the union that caps Governor terms to one.

Transportation is another big one. In Governor Warner's budget to be approved, he has allocated $824 billion for transportation projects.

There is also a bill in the hopper to eliminate the Winner–Take–All system in the Electoral College.

Finally, the General Assembly will have to decide what to do with the billion dollar surplus.


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