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When the General Assembly starts its 2021 regular session in January, the volume of legislation will be much different from years past because of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Senator Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta), both the Senate and the House of Delegates will impose limits on the amount of legislation members can introduce for the session.
“The issue for us now because we’re still going to be in the COVID environment is that we are going to restrict the introduction of bills,” Hanger said in an interview with The Virginia Star. “We’ve been looking at that previously in a broad sense, but for this year in particular, we are looking at some more significant limitations on the amount of legislation that individuals can introduce.”
“Basically, what it’s going to amount to is you can request more bill drafts,” Hanger continued. “I think about up to 25 in the Senate, but as far as introductions, we’re only going to be allowed to pre-file eight bills and then an additional four that we can request and introduce later during the first week of session.”
For the House, Hanger said he believes that delegates will be able to introduce a total of seven bills each. Assuming that every member introduces the maximum amount of legislation that would be 700 bills in the House, which is still well below the number of past regular sessions.
The process of introducing bills this year has also been partially affected by coronavirus and the special session because a lot of work that is supposed to be done in between sessions – meeting with constituents, business groups and various commissions about carrying potential legislation – is having to be done in a much shorter period of time and electronically, Hanger said.