RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Democrat-led Virginia General Assembly finished much of its work for the year Saturday, passing the state budget, and approving a marijuana legalization bill and dozens of other pieces of legislation.
Lawmakers worked late into the night, putting the final touches on bills and hashing out last-minute compromises in conference committees. The part-time legislature effectively wrapped up a busy session that was reshaped due to the coronavirus pandemic, though they will convene briefly Monday for parliamentary reasons.
With Democrats in full control of the state government for a second straight year and facing key elections in the fall, the session has seen the passage of legislation that will bring more sweeping policy changes to Virginia. Lawmakers have voted to abolish the death penalty, expand job-training at community colleges, get more electric vehicles on the road and tighten gun laws.
“Our House Democratic Majority has kept its promise to protect families, keep Virginia healthy and rebuild our economy stronger,” House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn said in a statement.
Marijuana legalization was a top priority for Democrats and Gov. Ralph Northam, though it looked to be in trouble toward the end of the week. After days of difficult negotiations between members of the House and Senate, lawmakers sent a measure to Northam that would legalize up to an ounce of marijuana in 2024, at the same time retail sales would begin.