BY SARAH RANKIN
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A remade Virginia General Assembly w convened its 2024 session Wednesday with a Democratic majority newly in charge of both chambers after a consequential election cycle that followed two years of divided control of the Legislature.
Guns, gambling, abortion, public safety and other issues will be on the agenda as Democrats seek to hold their razor-thin majorities together over the course of the 60-day session. They will need to win Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s support for most of their priorities, though in a few areas they will be able to move without him.
“I think there are some things we’re going to be able to agree on,” incoming Democratic House Speaker Don Scott said of the governor, ticking off spots of typical bipartisan cooperation, like education, mental health and workforce development.
On other legislative items — like gun control and Youngkin’s push for a new sports stadium — it remains to be seen where or whether compromise can be found, Scott said in an interview.
Last year’s election cycle, when every legislative seat was on the ballot, was the first held under new maps drawn in the last redistricting process. The new maps coupled with the requirement that legislators live in their district contributed to a wave of retirements that included some of the Assembly’s most senior members. Others were ousted in an especially competitive primary season.
About a third of the Assembly’s membership will be newly elected to their respective chamber.
The Assembly convened with a record-high percentage of female legislators, according to data maintained by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers. Forty-eight of the 140 members, or 34.3%, are women, according to the center, not accounting for the results of two Tuesday special legislative elections in which three female candidates were competing.