Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Episode 672 (1-8-24): Introducing the 2024 Virginia General Assembly

Click to listen to episode (4:59).

Sections below are the following:

Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Extra Information about the Virginia General Assembly
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.)

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 1-5-24.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the weeks of January 8 and January 15, 2024.

MUSIC – ~12 sec – instrumental.

That excerpt of “Dance of the Aisle,” by No Strings Attached, opens our annual preview of the Virginia General Assembly.  On January 10, 100 members of the House of Delegates and 40 members of the Senate will gather in Richmond for their 2024 session, during which they’ll renew what you might call the “dance” of working across the symbolic “aisle” between political parties.  The steps this year will be performed by a noticeably different group of people, because the 2023 elections resulted in significant changes in the age and years of service of the Assembly’s membership.  Have a listen to the music for about 25 more seconds, and see if you know how the following pairs of numbers describe those membership changes:
34 and 17;
74 and 40;
9 and 21;
and, last, 52 and 34;

MUSIC – ~24 sec – instrumental.

If you knew some or all of these, you’re a General Assembly genius!

The 2024 General Assembly will have 34 new delegates and 17 new senators.
Seventy-four members have served four years or less, compared to 40 such members in 2023.
Nine members have served 20 years or more, compared to 21 such members in 2023.
And 52 members will be age 45 or younger, compared to 34 such members in 2023.

[Information not in audio: that the numbers for 2024, taken from the Virginia Public Access Project’s Web site on January 4, 2024, do not include one House member and one Senate member who were to be chosen in special elections on January 9, 2024.]

The General Assembly convenes each year on the second Wednesday in January.  So-called “long sessions” of 60 days are held in even-numbered years, while 30-to-45-day “short sessions” are held in odd-numbered years.  A new biennial budget is proposed in each even-numbered year, while amendments to the current budget may be considered every year.

Besides the budget, the General Assembly typically considers two-to-three thousand bills and resolutions.  Usually about 150 to 200 of those measures relate to water resources, either directly through impacts on aquatic environments, water supplies, or other water uses, or indirectly through impacts on energy and land uses that, in turn, affect water.  The budget also affects water, especially through funding of natural resource-related departments, such as Conservation and Recreation, Environmental Quality, Wildlife Resources, and the Marine Resources Commission.

Action on General Assembly measures involves sub-committees, full committees, and floor debate.  Passed bills go to the governor for approval, veto, or proposed changes, and bills with a governor’s veto or proposed changes return to the Assembly for further consideration during a “reconvened session,” scheduled for April.   All along the way, citizens, interest groups, and other stakeholders vie to have a say.  You can join in by following the Assembly’s work and by communicating with your local delegate or senator about issues of concern.  Tools to help you do so are available online at virginiageneralassembly.gov.

Thanks to Randy Marchany for permission to use this week’s music, and we close with about 15 more seconds of “Dance of the Aisle.”

MUSIC – ~16 sec – instrumental.


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of “Cripple Creek” to open and close this episode.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


“Dance of the Aisle,” on the 1999 album “In the Vinyl Tradition Volume 2,” is copyright by No Strings Attached and Enessay Music, used with permission.  More information about No Strings Attached—a long-time Blacksburg- and Roanoke-based band which is no longer performing—is available online at http://www.enessay.com/index.html.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (1 min./11 sec.) of the “Cripple Creek” arrangement/performance by Stewart Scales that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Scales and the group New Standard, with which Mr. Scales plays, is available online at http://newstandardbluegrass.com.


The Virginia State Capitol Building in Richmond.  Image from the Virginia General Assembly, “Capitol Classroom,” accessed online at https://capclass.virginiageneralassembly.gov/High/AbouttheCapitol/CapitolHigh.html, 1/8/24.

Screen shot of the Virginia Legislative Information System’s online site for following legislation in the 2024 Virginia General Assembly, accessed at https://lis.virginia.gov/lis.htm, 1/8/24.


The General Assembly’s main Web page, http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/index.php, offers several useful features, including member lists, session calendars, live video of floor sessions, and information on legislative processes.  The Legislative Information System (LIS) Web site, http://lis.virginia.gov/lis.htm, provides lists and summaries of all bills, searchable by topic, member, committee, etc.   For budget information specifically, see https://budget.lis.virginia.gov/.

Video streams
of sessions and meetings for both the House of Delegates and the Senate, including committees, are available online at https://virginiageneralassembly.gov/membersAndSession.php?secid=1&activesec=0#!hb=1&mainContentTabs=0.

Committees are key parts of the General Assembly process.  Legislation about water or about activities that can affect water may be assigned to any of several standing committees, most of which meet weekly during the General Assembly session.  Two committees that receive many (but not all) of the water-related bills are the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee.  Information about all standing committees as of the 2024 session—including membership, meeting times, and legislation being considered—is available online at https://lis.virginia.gov/241/com/COM.HTM.

To express an opinion on legislation, citizens are advised to contact their respective delegate of senator.  If you do not know your representatives or their contact information, you can use the online “Who’s My Legislator” service, available at http://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/.  You can also find members’ contact information at these links:
House of Delegates, at http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/house/members/members.php;
State Senate, at https://apps.senate.virginia.gov/Senator/.

The Lobbyist-In-A-Box subscriber service also offers free tracking for up to five bills, and it offers tracking of more than five bills for a fee; visit http://lis.virginia.gov/h015.htm.  For more information or assistance, phone Legislative Automated Systems at (804) 786-9631 or Virginia Interactive at (804) 318-4133.

The organization Open Virginia’s Richmond Sunlight Web site, at https://www.richmondsunlight.com/, also offers tools for following the General Assembly and for learning about Virginia law.


Ballotpedia, “Virginia General Assembly,” online at https://ballotpedia.org/Virginia_General_Assembly.

Andrew Cain, “Meet the 17 new state senators,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, November 24. 2023.

David McGee, “’Road to Richmond”: Predictions vary on upcoming General Assembly session,” Bristol Herald-Courier, January 4, 2024.

The Modern Republic, “Reach Across the Aisle,” online at https://www.modernrepublic.org/reach-across-the-aisle.

Virginia Department of Elections, “January 9, 2024 General Assembly  Special Elections,” online at https://www.elections.virginia.gov/casting-a-ballot/candidate-list/january-9-2024-general-assembly-special-elections/, accessed 1-4-24.

Virginia General Assembly, online at https://virginiageneralassembly.gov/index.php.  See particularly the following specific pages (all hyperlinked):
About the General Assembly;
Citizen Involvement
Legislative Terms

Virginia Public Access Project, online at https://www.vpap.org/, 1-4-24.  The main menu has a tab for “Legislators/Demographics,” online at https://www.vpap.org/general-assembly/legislators/, and there one can use a drop-down function to look for political party, gender, race, age, etc., and compare to previous sessions.

Virginia Legislative Information System, online at https://lis.virginia.gov/.

Virginia Water Resources Research Center, “Virginia Water Legislation,” online at https://www.vwrrc.vt.edu/virginia-water-legislation/.  This site provides access to inventories of water-related bills in the Virginia General Assembly from 1998 through 2023.


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html).  See particularly the “Community/Organizations” subject category.

Following are links to other episodes on the Virginia General Assembly.

Episode 143, 1-7-13 – “Music for the Past and Present of the Virginia General Assembly” (annual General Assembly introduction).
Episode 147, 2-4-13 – “Committees Guide the Flow of Bills in the Virginia General Assembly.”
Episode 196, 1-13-14 – “The Virginia General Assembly on its 396th Opening Day, January 8, 2014” (annual General Assembly introduction).
Episode 247, 1-5-15 – “January Means State Budget Time in the Virginia General Assembly” (annual General Assembly introduction, with a special focus on the state budget).
Episode 252, 2-9-15 – “Voting on Water in the 2015 Virginia General Assembly.”
Episode 297, 1-4-16 – “Water’s on the Agenda—along with a Whole Lot Else—When the Virginia General Assembly Convenes” (annual General Assembly introduction).
Episode 302, 2-8-16 – “Voting on Water in the 2016 Virginia General Assembly.”
Episode 350, 1-9-17 – “Old English Music Helps Preview the Old Dominion’s 2017 General Assembly” (annual General Assembly introduction).
Episode 353, 1-30-17 – “Voting on Water in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly.”
Episode 359, 3-13-17 – “Subcommittees are Where Many Proposed Virginia Laws Start to Float or Sink.”
Episode 402, 1-8-18 – “The Virginia Legislature Begins Its 400th Year in 2018” (annual General Assembly introduction).
Episode 405, 1-29-18 – “Voting on Water in the 2018 Virginia General Assembly.”
Episode 410, 3-5-18 – “Virginia Electricity Regulation and Water” (on legislation in the 2018 session on electricity regulation).
Episode 454, 1-7-19 – “The Virginia General Assembly, from Jamestown in 1619 to Richmond in 2019” (annual General Assembly introduction).
Episode 460, 2-18-19 – “Voting on Water in the 2018 Virginia General Assembly.”
Episode 506, 1-6-20 – “Action on Budget, Bills, and Other Business Commences January 8 for the 2020 Virginia General Assembly” (annual General Assembly introduction).
Episode 510, 2-3-20 – “Voting on Water in the 2020 Virginia General Assembly.”
Episode 522, 4-27-20
– “Virginia Enacts a New Energy Era” (on legislation in the 2020 session on electricity generation, carbon emissions, and recurrent flooding).
Episode 558, 1-4-21
– “January 13 is Opening Day for the 2021 Virginia General Assembly” (annual General Assembly introduction).
Episode 562, 2-1-21 – “Voting on Water in the 2021 Virginia General Assembly.”
Episode 611, 1-10-22 – “The Second Wednesday in January Means the Virginia General Assembly Convenes” (annual General Assembly introduction).
Episode 614, 1-31-22 – “Voting on Water in the 2022 Virginia General Assembly.”
Episode 646, 1-9-23 – “”Near Richmond’s James River Falls, Each Second Wednesday in January Calls the Virginia General Assembly to Order” (annual General Assembly introduction).
Episode 647, 1-23-23 – “Virginia’s State Budget and Money for Water.”
Episode 648, 2-6-23: “Voting on Water in the 2023 Virginia General Assembly.”


Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources, or other information included in this post.

2020 Music SOLs

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2018 Science SOLs

Grades K-5 – Earth Resources
3.8 – Natural events and humans influence ecosystems.
4.8. – Virginia has important natural resources.

Grade 6
6.9 – Humans impact the environment and individuals can influence public policy decisions related to energy and the environment.

Life Science Course
LS.9 – Relationships exist between ecosystem dynamics and human activity.

Earth Science Course
ES.6 – Resource use is complex.
ES.8 – Freshwater resources influence and are influenced by geologic processes and human activity.
ES.10 – Oceans are complex, dynamic systems subject to long- and short-term variations, including effects of human actions.
ES.11 – The atmosphere is a complex, dynamic system subject to long-and short-term variations, including effects of human actions.

Biology Course
BIO.8 – Dynamic equilibria exist within populations, communities, and ecosystems, and natural events and human activities influence local and global ecosystems and may affect the flora and fauna of Virginia.

2023 History and Social Science SOLs

Grade 4: Virginia Studies
VS.3 – Explain the causes and effects of events associated with the first permanent English settlement in North America by, among other things, identifying the significance of establishing the General Assembly (1619), the first representative legislative body in English America.

Grade 7: Civics and Economics
CE.3 – Analyze how constitutional government functions at the state level.
CE.6 – Define citizenship by, among other things, examining ways to peacefully work for change in communities or the nation by participating in political campaigns and methods of peacefully petitioning the government for change.

Grade 12: Virginia and United States Government
SKILLS - Select and synthesize evidence from information sources.
GOVT.10 – Explain the organization and powers of the state and local governments as described in the Constitution of Virginia.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at https://www.doe.virginia.gov/teaching-learning-assessment/instruction.

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15 – on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15 – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16 – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19 – on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.
Episode 524, 5-11-20 – on sounds by water-related animals, for elementary school through high school.
Episode 531, 6-29-20 – on various ways that animals get water, for 3rd and 4th grade.
Episode 539, 8-24-20 – on basic numbers and facts about Virginia’s water resources, for 4th and 6th grade.
Episode 606, 12-6-21 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.