General Assembly Basics
Virignia's bicameral legislature, establised under the Constitution of Virginia, is referred to as the General Assembly and consists of the Virginia House of Delegates and the Virginia Senate. The Virginia Senate has 40 Senators who each serve a four-year term and the Virginia House has 100 Delegates who each serve a two year term. Virginia's election districts are evaluated and re-drawn as needed every 10 years based on the results of the Census.
HOW THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY WORKS
The Virginia General Assembly convenes it's annual session on the second Wednesday of January. In even-numbered years, all 100 Delegates of the Virginia House of Delegates are up for election, and the General Assembly meets for 60 days to hear legislation and adopt a new two year (biennial budget). In odd-numbered years, the General Assembly meets for 30-45 days and will amend the budget. The Governor or a 2/3 vote of members may call for a Special Session to be convened to address an emerging or urgent issue. The General Assembly also meets in a Reconvened Session on or about the sixth Wednesday after adjournment of any session (Regular or Special). During a Reconvened Session the legislature will consider any Governor amendments or vetoes to legislation. The House of Delegates is presided over by the Speaker of the House, while the Senate is presided over by the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.
The Virginia Senate has 11 Committees and the Virginia House of Delegates has 14 Committees. Committees study and review assigned legislation. Committees can make amendments, table a bill, refer it to a different committee for further study or report it to the House or Senate floor for a vote. Committees meeting schedules and the bills they are reviewing can be found on the General Assembly website. House and Senate subcommittee and committee meetings can be viewed via live-stream and typically occur in the Pocahontas building and Capitol Building extension. The public may provide comment or testimony on bills that are being heard by the committee.
Daily floor sessions start at noon and are held in the respective House or Senate chamber on the second floor of the Capitol Building. Bills that have been reported by committee are read or printed three times in the daily floor calendar. On the third reading the bill is voted on by members of that chamber. Bills are then referred to the other chamber where they again go through the process of a committee review and floor vote. If a bill passes both chambers, it goes to the Governor for approval. Bills that become law at a regular session are effective the first day of July following adjournment of that session unless otherwise specified. Learn more about how a bill becomes a law on the General Assembly website.
HOW TO FOLLOW A BILL
The legislature's official website, virginiageneralassembly.gov contains information about legislators, committee information, links for live streaming, and directions on providing public comment and visiting the Capitol.
Legislative Information Services contains the full text, summaries, and status history of all bills and resolutions for each General Assembly session. Bills can be looked up by bill/resolution number, by subject, or by the senator or delegate who introduced the legislation. If the bill originated in the House it will start with HB___ and if it originated in the Senate it will start with SB___.
Additionally, both the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee maintain websites that provide detailed information on the respective bodies budget procedures.
WATCH THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSION
Key Committee Meeting Links & Scedule
House - Education (Monday, Wednesday 8:00 a.m.)
Sub Committee: PreK-12 (Tuesday 7:30 a.m.)
Sub Committee: Early Childhood & Innovation (Wednesday after Full)
House Appropriations (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 1/2 hour after adjournment)
Sub Committee: Elementary and Secondary Education (Wednesday 4 p.m.)
Senate Education & Health (Thursday 8 a.m.)
Sub Committee: Public Education (30 min after adjournment)
Senate Finance & Appropriations (Tuesday & Wednesday 9 a.m.)
Sub Committee: K-12 Education (Thursday 3pm)