Harman Patil (Editor)

Virginia House of Delegates

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Term limits  None
New session started  January 13, 2016
Virginia House of Delegates

Type  Lower House of the Virginia General Assembly
Speaker  William Howell (R) Since January 8, 2003
Majority Leader  Kirk Cox (R) Since December 5, 2010
Minority Leader  David Toscano (D) Since November 19, 2011

The Virginia House of Delegates is one of two parts in the Virginia General Assembly, the other being the Senate of Virginia. It has 100 members elected for terms of two years; unlike most states, these elections take place during odd-numbered years. The House is presided over by the Speaker of the House, who is elected from among the House membership by the Delegates. The Speaker is almost always a member of the majority party and, as Speaker, becomes the most powerful member of the House. The House shares legislative power with the Senate of Virginia, the upper house of the Virginia General Assembly. The House of Delegates is the modern-day successor to the Virginia House of Burgesses, which first met at Jamestown in 1619. The House is divided into Democratic and Republican caucuses. In addition to the Speaker, there is a majority leader, majority caucus chair, minority leader, minority caucus chair, and the chairs of the several committees of the House.

Contents

Through the House of Burgesses, the Virginia House of Delegates is considered the oldest continuous legislative body in the New World. Originally having 22 members, the House of Burgesses met from 1619 through 1632 in the choir of the church at Jamestown. From 1632 to 1699 the legislative body met at four different state houses in Jamestown. The first state house convened at the home of Colonial Governor Sir John Harvey from 1632 to 1656. The burgesses convened at the second state house from 1656 until it was destroyed in 1660. Historians have yet to precisely identify its location.

The House has met in Virginia's Capitol Building, designed by Thomas Jefferson, since 1788. The legislative body met from 1788 to 1904 in what is known as today the Old Hall of the House of Delegates or commonly referred to as the Old House Chamber. The Old House Chamber is part of the original Capitol building structure. It measures 76 feet in width and is filled today with furnishings that resemble what the room would have looked like during its time of use. There are many bronze and marble busts of historic Virginians on display in the Old House Chamber, including: George Mason, George Wythe, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, and Meriwether Lewis. From 1904 to 1906, University of Virginia graduate and architect John K. Peeples designed and built compatible classical wings to the west and east side of the Capitol building. The new wings added to provide more space and serve as the legislative chambers in the Virginia General Assembly, the Senate of Virginia resides in the west chamber and the House of Delegates resides in the east chamber. The General Assembly members and staff operate from offices in the General Assembly Building, located in Capitol Square. Prior to 1788 the House of Delegates met in the Colonial Capital of Williamsburg.

In 1999, Republicans took control of the long-time Democratic House of Delegates for the first time since Reconstruction (with the exception of a brief 2-year period in which the Readjuster Party was in the majority in the 1880s).

Salary and qualifications

The annual salary for delegates is $17,640 per year. Each delegate represents roughly 83,000 people. Candidates for office must be at least 21 years of age at the time of the election, residents of the districts they seek to represent, and qualified to vote for General Assembly legislators. The regular session of the General Assembly is 60 days long during even numbered years and 30 days long during odd numbered years, unless extended by a two-thirds vote of both houses.

Party control

(The party control table shows the balance of power after each recent general election. The preceding Makeup table includes results of special elections since the last general election.)

Committee chairs and ranking members

The House has 14 standing committees.

Members

The Virginia House of Delegates is reelected every two years, with intervening vacancies filled by special election. The next general election of the House is in November 2017.

References

Virginia House of Delegates Wikipedia