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General Assembly Roundup: Week One

Republicans seize power in the Senate; legislators receive committee assignments

The Virginia General Assembly's 60-day session will adjourn on Saturday, March 10.

Last Wednesday, the Virginia General Assembly convened for its 2012 legislative session. Much of the first week is routine — swearing in legislators, assigning lawmakers to committees.

This year's start had a spark to it, as the Republicans used Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling's role as Senate president to seize control in an evenly split chamber (20 Republicans and 20 Democrats), despite protests from the Democrats.

The Republicans, led by majority leader Thomas Norment (R-James City), stacked the Senate committees with legislators of their own party, giving them  all the chairmanships and majorities in 10 of the 11 committees — despite Senate rules that call for committees to reflect the party proportions.

State senator, Janet Howell (D-McLean, Vienna), has seen a significant loss of power on the Finance Committee, arguably the most powerful committee in the Senate. As a senior member of the committee, she will still hold clout, but the Republican chairmanship and 9-6 Republican majority will make hers an uphill battle.

Howell has also been assigned to the Courts of Justice, Education and Health, Privileges and Elections, and Rules committees.

Newly elected Sen. Barbara Favola (D-Arlington and McLean) has been assigned to the Local Government Committee, te Rehabilitation & Social Services Committee and the Transportation Committee.

In the the House of Delegates where Republicans have a huge majority  only grew in November's election,there were few ir any  objections to the committee assignments announced by Speaker William Howell (R).

McLean is split among three House districts, represented by Dels. Mark Keam (D-Vienna, McLean), Barbara Comstock (R-McLean, Great Falls, Loudoun) and Bob Brink (D-McLean, Arlington).

Keam has been assigned to the Education and Finance committees, which because of newly acquired territory in last year's redistricting: Tysons Corner. Education is a new assignment for Keam, which replaces his seat on the Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee.

Comstock did secure a seat on the Transportation Committee, as well as the Science and Technology and Commerce and Labor committees.

Brink, who has served in the General Assembly since 1998, will serve with Comstock on Transportation Committee,  and the Appropriations  Committee.

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