The Virginia General Assembly convened its 2019 session this week. There’s been some anticipation of this year’s session, as the General Assembly marks its 400th anniversary. Four centuries later, Virginia’s legislature describes itself as “the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World.”
For its first 80 years, the General Assembly met in Jamestown. The 22 elected representatives were called Burgesses then. They continued to meet in Jamestown until 1699, when the capitol was relocated to Williamsburg. In 1780, then-Governor Thomas Jefferson convinced the General Assembly to move the capital to Richmond. It’s been here ever since.
There have been some changes in the General Assembly since 1619. Our legislature is now bicameral, with 100 delegates and 40 senators. But, some things haven’t changed. Legislators are still elected by their fellow citizens. And, every session begins with prayer.
Virginia has planned a lot of events to celebrate the 400th anniversary of elected government in North America. You can learn more about them by going to www.americanevolution2019.com.
The governor addresses the General Assembly on the first day of our session, delivering the annual State of the Commonwealth Address. In it, Governor Northam detailed his priorities for the 2019 session. While his speech last year rankled many because of its overtly partisan tone, his address this year was not as strident. Although the tone of the Governor’s remarks may have changed, the underlying policies remain the same. From gun control to higher taxes to increased government spending, Governor Northam’s agenda is largely indistinguishable from the one espoused by his immediate predecessor, who is now busy introducing himself to the voters of Iowa and New Hampshire.
I was honored to offer the televised Senate Republicans response detailing some of our priorities following Governor Northam’s remarks. Making healthcare and health insurance more affordable is the top priority for Senate Republicans this session. We are promoting legislation that will give Virginians more choices when they seek coverage, lowering their premiums and reducing deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses.
The first week of a General Assembly session has no shortage of ceremony, and there are a lot of visitors on hand to see history in the making. We had quite a few visitors from home stop by our offices in the Pocahontas Building including the Virginia Republican Women’s Federation, local members of the Family Foundation, VA School Counselors Assn, Virginia Assn. for Career and Technical Education, Centra officials and Liberty University associates.
Our offices in the Pocahontas Building are in Room E604. You can reach us by emailing District23@senate.virginia.gov or calling (804) 698-7523.