Virginia legislators prepare for upcoming January session

Virginia legislators prepare for upcoming January session

State delegates in Virginia are about to enter unchartered territory as they convene this January. They are unsure of how many seats each party has or even who the House Speaker will be.

The Virginia House of Delegates could see an equally-divided chamber for the first time in two decades as a Newport News race remains deadlocked.

"I'm grateful for the justices and the time they took to deliberate and i'm really grateful that every vote has been counted," Republican David Yancey said.

Democrat Shelly Simonds said, "The end of the recount, I was ahead by one vote. And so it would be really disappointing for the story to change."

A election-deciding was set to be made by the Virginia Board of Elections on Wednesday, but was postponed due to pending legal action.

Republicans had a 66-34 house majority leading into the contentious November elections.

"If everyone decides it's going to be a wrestling match from day one, then we're not going to pass any bills and we can just adjourn and go home. We have to be able to figure out how to work together and how to explain your legislation in a way that you can make other people understand what it is you're trying to do," Delegate Israel O'Quinn said.

O'Quinn will present several bills this session.

He is proposing a study to expand Interstate-81 to six lanes in sections from Wytheville to Bristol

"Where it's just four lanes. That bottles up the traffic. All it takes is one minor fender bender or one wide load coming up the interstate to back traffic up for miles," O'Quinn said.

He hopes for early passage by February and work to begin with VDOT by summer. In his ideal timeline, the construction would allow for construction within a year or two.

O'Quinn also has pre-filed a bill to loosen storm water regulations. He said the regulations were intended for the Chesapeake Bay area, but affects corporations and even homeowners in our region. "When you go to do any kind of construction in southwest Virginia, you automatically have a more expensive and higher threshold that you're working with."

The Virginia General Assembly will go into session on January 10.


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