RICHMOND, Va. — The Latest on the start of the Virginia General Assembly session (all times local):
Outgoing Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe says his proudest achievement during his four years in office was restoring voting and other civil rights to thousands of felons who had completed their sentences.
McAuliffe discussed his legacy in his final “State of the Commonwealth” address to lawmakers Wednesday evening.
He also touted his record on economic development, announcing Virginia has attracted more than $20 billion in new capital investment since he took office.
That’s a figure McAuliffe says exceeds any previous governor by more than $6.5 billion dollars.
McAuliffe says witnessing the “bigotry and violence” during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville that turned deadly in August was the lowest point of his tenure. Family members of the three Virginia residents who died that day were present for his speech.
McAuliffe leaves office on Saturday.
The Virginia General Assembly’s 2018 session has officially begun.
Lawmakers convened at noon Wednesday, kicking things off with the swearing-in of 19 new delegates, 15 of them Democrats.
Lawmakers then elected Republican Del. Kirk Cox as House speaker. The former government teacher from Colonial Heights replaces retiring Speaker William J. Howell.
Control of the House had been in limbo until Wednesday, when Democrat Shelly Simonds conceded to Del. David Yancey, whose name was drawn from a bowl to break a tie.
Also Wednesday, a federal appeals court declined to halt the swearing-in of Republican Bob Thomas in a race tainted by voters receiving the wrong ballots. The developments leave Republicans with a 51-49 House lead while the Democrats’ legal challenge continues.
The Virginia General Assembly is set to kick off its 2018 session.
Lawmakers will officially convene at noon Wednesday, and a host of new faces will fill the House of Delegates, where Democrats picked up 15 seats in the November elections.
Later in the day, outgoing Gov. Terry McAuliffe will give his final State of the Commonwealth address.
Lawmakers will be tasked with passing the state budget and will also debate a host of other issues. Hundreds of bills have already been filed, covering issues including taxes, transportation, education and criminal justice reform.
Democratic Gov.-elect Ralph Northam will be sworn in Saturday. He has promised progress on progressive priorities like Medicaid expansion and gun control but also vowed to work across the aisle with Republicans.