Virginia lawmakers end chaotic session
Virginia lawmakers adjourned Sunday, ending a session overshadowed by controversies surrounding the Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General. They now begin to prepare for the November elections, which will have implications for years to come.
Right now, republicans hold slim majorities in both houses, and whichever party controls the legislature holds the upper hand when redistricting takes place after the 2020 census. The two parties have already set the stage for the election, with votes on hot button issues such as raising the minimum wage and ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment.
While most of the attention was focused on Governor Northam’s racist medical school yearbook photo, Lt. Governor Fairfax’s response to sexual assault allegations, and Attorney General Herring’s admission that he wore blackface in the 1980’s, lawmakers worked out changes to the state’s 117-billion-dollar budget. They also paved the way for casino gambling, which could include casinos in Portsmouth and Norfolk. They also raised the legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 and provided money for pay raises for teachers.
But the turmoil surrounding the state’s top three leaders overshadowed much of the work done in the 46-day session. Lawmakers are now free to begin their fall campaigns, while Northam, Fairfax and Herring continue to battle their respective scandals and allegations.