The Virginia General Assembly convened its 2022 session on Wednesday in Richmond, under the control of the newly divided parties.
Lawmakers will meet for 60 days to develop a two-year state budget and address issues ranging from education to marijuana policy to public safety.
The bills they pass will go to the office of new GOP governor Glenn Youngkin, who will be sworn in on Saturday.
In the House of Delegates, where every seat was on the ballot in November and where Republicans will benefit from a new majority, MPs were sworn in and quickly elected a new Speaker of the House.
Democrats joined Republicans in voting for Del. Todd Gilbert, a Shenandoah Valley lawyer who recently served as Minority Leader, to chair the chamber.
In the 40 Senate member states, where no seats were up for election last year, Democrats will retain a razor thin majority. Incoming Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears will preside over the chamber after taking the oath, also on Saturday. Sears will be the first woman to hold the position and only the second in Virginia history to hold a statewide position.
Outgoing Democratic Governor Ralph Northam will deliver his final annual “State of the Commonwealth” address to lawmakers on Wednesday evening.
Northam, a pediatric neurologist who has not been cleared by Virginia law to run for a second consecutive term, is expected to join his practice in Norfolk next week.