Sen. Norment calls on governor to hold special General Assembly session on COVID-19 concerns


FILE – In this Jan. 11, 2012, file photo, State Sen. Tommy Norment, R-James City County, looks over rules of the Senate during debate on the new Senate rules at the start of the 2012 session of the Virginia Senate at the Capitol in Richmond, Va. Norment is calling for a broad ban on guns in government buildings, a surprise legislation he filed the day before state lawmakers are set to debate gun laws. He filed a bill Monday, July 8, 2019, that would extend a state prohibition on guns in courthouses to any “building owned or used by a locality for governmental purposes.” (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Senate Minority Leader Sen. Thomas K. Norment is calling on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to hold a special General Assembly session to address the COVID-19 outbreak.

In a letter Monday, Norment, (R-James City County), said the special session should be called to address “concerns related to the Coronavirus outbreak and the effects of the continuing state of emergency.”

While Norment is asking for a special session, it remains unclear when or if it could happen. The Virginia State Capitol and the Pocahontas Building, the state government building, will be closed until the end of March, a person briefed on the matter said Monday.

Norment said the special session would cover three specific purposes. It would reinforce a concern voiced by another senator last week during the debate over a budget bill and request a revenue forecast be provided to the General Assembly relating to House Bill 30.

“As Senator {Stephen) Newman and I explained during last Thursday’s debate, the economic assumptions and revenue forecasts upon which this budget is based may no longer be operative,” Norment wrote in the letter. “I have heard estimates that the school closings alone will cost $444 million. Those additional, unanticipated expenses, as well as revenue projections that may now be too robust necessitate a fresh look at our finances.”

Secondly, the special session would also give legislators a chance to consider legislation limiting the liability of employers with employees who have been exposed to COVID-19 but continue to work without their employer’s knowledge of that exposure.

Lastly, the special session would consider more legislation to help local governments and regional commissions continue to conduct necessary business during the state of emergency.

“Over the last several days, I have been contacted by several organizations trying to determine how to navigate a challenging situation. Local governments and regional commissions are trying to figure out how they can continue to conduct timely and requisite business with the restrictions placed on gatherings,” Norment wrote.

“The simplest and most direct way to address these concerns is to convene a special session. I have asked Governor Northam to do that and hope he will give my request serious and prompt consideration.”

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