Virginia General Assembly set to kick off 2022 session

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Virginia General Assembly is set to convene its 2022 session Wednesday in Richmond, under newly divided party control.
Lawmakers will be meeting for 60 days to craft a two-year state budget and take up issues ranging from education to marijuana policy to public safety.
The bills they pass will head to the desk of incoming GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who will be sworn in Saturday.
The House of Delegates, where every seat was on the ballot in November and where Republicans will enjoy a new majority, will swear in new members and elect a new speaker as its first order of business.
The House Republican caucus previously tapped Del. Todd Gilbert to serve as a speaker, so Wednesday’s vote was expected to be a formality.
Gilbert, most recently the chamber’s minority leader, is an attorney from the Shenandoah Valley who was first elected to the House in 2005.
In the 40-member state Senate, where no seats were up for election last year, Democrats will maintain a razor-thin majority. Incoming Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears will preside over the chamber after she’s sworn in, also Saturday. Sears will be the first woman to serve in the role and only the second in Virginia’s history to hold statewide office.
Outgoing Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam will deliver his final annual “State of the Commonwealth” address to lawmakers on Wednesday night.
Northam, a pediatric neurologist who was prohibited by Virginia law from seeking a second consecutive term in office, is set to rejoin his medical practice in Norfolk next week.