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A Look at 2005 General Assembly

Wednesday, January 12, 2005; Page B05

The 2005 legislative session is scheduled to begin at noon today and end Feb. 26. Gov. Mark R. Warner delivers the State of the Commonwealth speech at 7 tonight. Here are the session basics.

Balance of power: Warner is a Democrat. Republicans control both legislative chambers. In the House, there are 60 Republicans, 38 Democrats and two independents. The Senate has 24 Republicans and 16 Democrats.

Prospects: The main job of the legislators is to fine-tune the two-year budget they passed last year. Even though 2005 is a big election year in Virginia, the Democratic and Republican leaders have a stake in harmony after the tumultuous 2004 session, with its extended, acrimonious debate on taxes and spending.

Issues: What to do with more than $900 million in unanticipated revenue, whether to set in motion a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriages, how to improve the state's transportation network without a tax increase, whether to renew the authority of some jurisdictions to use red-light enforcement cameras.

On the Web: A session preview, other Post stories, audio, online discussions and a bill tracker are among the features available at www.washingtonpost.com/vagovt.

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