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Del. Chris Runion planning to attend 2021 General Assembly session in person

virginia state capitol
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Republican State Del. Chris Runion said Monday that he is preparing to be in Richmond for 2021 regular session of the General Assembly.

“In the upcoming regular session of the General Assembly we will be attempting to solve serious and complex issues facing Virginia families,” said Runion, who represents the 25th House District, which includes parts of Albemarle County, Augusta County and Rockingham County.

“While Speaker Filler-Corn has decided to attempt another virtual legislative session, I plan to work with my Republican colleagues to find a way to convene for the upcoming legislative session safely and in-person,” Runion said.

House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn announced plans last week for a 45-day remote House of Delegates session in 2021, in line with the new statewide measures enacted by Gov. Ralph Northam to limit public and private gatherings to 25 individuals to stem a recent increase in COVID-19 positive tests.

“As legislators, we must set an example on how to conduct our business and adapt during this pandemic,” Filler-Corn said. “While I look forward to the time we can return to conducting business in person and go back to the way we operated prior to the global pandemic, at this time we must continue to listen to the experts and make informed, responsible decisions based on their recommendations and science.”

The scheduled start date for the 2021 session is Wednesday, Jan. 13, seven weeks away.

A 45-day session would run through the end of February, but getting to 45 days requires, per the Virginia Constitution, the concurrence of two-thirds of members of each house – and House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, and Senate Republican Leader Thomas Norment, R-James City, will be directing their fellow partisans against agreeing to the usual extension from 30 days.

“Considering the lengthy regular and special sessions held this year, the General Assembly should be able to complete its work for 2021 in the 30 days the Constitution allows,” said Norment, noting that the 2020 regular session went 65 days, and the special session that began in August ended up going for 84 more.

“The Constitution limits the duration of General Assembly sessions to ensure we have a citizen legislature, not one populated by full-time politicians,” Gilbert said. “Given that we’ve already addressed the primary purpose of the upcoming session, amending the state budget, it makes sense that we keep within the constitutional minimum until the people of Virginia can once again fully participate in their government.”

Runion echoed those concerns in a press release from his office sent out today.

“As my Republican colleagues have stated, if legislatures such as California, New York, and the Senate of Virginia have found a way to safely allow legislators on the floor during votes, then the Virginia House of Delegates could have found a way,” Runion said.

“It is my hope that we can work to ensure that Virginia’s representatives can convene in Richmond and fulfill our Constitutional duties and to do the job our constituents elected us to do. Either way, I plan to be present in Richmond.”

Story by Chris Graham

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