The Virginia General Assembly

The Virginia General Assembly is the state legislature for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Its existence dates back to the House of Burgesses at Jamestown in 1619 and is considered the oldest continuous law-making body in the Western Hemisphere. It is a bicameral body in Richmond, Virginia made up of the Senate of Virginia and the Virginia House of Delegates which represent the upper and lower houses, respectively. The General Assembly writes all of Virginia’s legislation and fills vacancies within Virginia’s judiciary. There are currently 40 Senators and 100 Delegates who serve. All 140 Virginia legislators - both Senators and Delegates - serve in a part-time capacity. For their work at the General Assembly, Senators are paid $18,000 each year and Delegates are paid $17,640, which is below the national average of $29,000. Senators serve 4-year terms, while Delegates serve 2-year terms.

The General Assembly convenes its Regular Session on the second Wednesday of January each year and meets for only 60 calendar-day sessions in even-numbered years and 30 calendar-day sessions in odd-numbered years (which are typically extended to 46 calendar-days). On the sixth Wednesday after the Regular Session, the Constitution requires that the legislature return for a short Reconvened Session, which lasts from 1 to 10 days, and is used to deal with Governor’s amendments or vetoes. In those short timeframes, the General Assembly typically discusses and votes on 2000-3000 bills. If additional bills need to be considered, the Governor or two-thirds of the members in each House can call a Special Session at any time throughout the year, although that action is rare.

To see how a bill becomes a law in Virginia, check out the detailed process here.

To figure out who represents you at the General Assembly, click here.

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For more information about the General Assembly, please visit their website!