Virginia special session on coronavirus relief budgeting starts Monday

Virginia Politics

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Lawmakers are set to meet in Richmond for a short special session to elect judges and adjust the state budget to account for billions of dollars in federal coronavirus relief money.

The legislators convene at noon Monday at the Capitol. They will be meeting there in person for the first time since the 2020 regular session ended. Meetings since then have taken place virtually or in special event centers because of the pandemic.

Legislators will be taking up a wide-ranging budget proposal crafted by Gov. Ralph Northam and fellow Democratic leaders. It calls for spending on initiatives including: increasing broadband access, supporting small businesses and tourism, paying for air quality improvements in public schools, boosting mental health and substance-abuse treatment, and backfilling the state’s unemployment trust fund.

The introduced budget also contains provisions that would offer some protections against evictions and utility disconnections. It would also help fund state agencies’ ongoing pandemic response efforts.

Lawmakers are dealing with the $4.3 billion share of American Rescue Plan funds flowing to the state. Other money from that federal relief bill will go separately to local governments and to school divisions.

Democratic leaders have not said exactly how long the work of the special session will take.

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