Leaders of the Virginia General Assembly are hopeful the legislature can wrap quickly the reapportionment of state legislative and congressional districts in a special session next April that would coincide with another special session called to consider any possible overirde of any possible gubernatorial vetoes.
Senate Majority Leader Hunter B. Andrews (D-Hampton) and House Speaker A.L. Philpott (D-Henry) said they expect the regular leglistive session to begin Jan. 14 and run 38 days, concluding Feb. 21.
Under a state constitutional amendment passed last week by voters, the legislature can reconvene in a special 10-day session, probably on April 8, to override any vetoes of bills by Gov. John N. Dalton. Andrews and Philpott said they would ask the governor to call the special session for redistricting purposes to run simultaneously the veto-override session.
The legislature had expected to consider the redistricting question during the regular session. However, information from the U.S. census has been delayed and is not expected until February at the earliest.
Should Dalton refuse the request for coinciding special sessions, the legislature would have come back for a third session. But Dalton is known to oppose extra sessions because of the costs involved.
The redistricting session, Philpott said, could run as long as 30 days. "But I think we can get it done earlier because a lot of work obviously is going to be done before" the special sessions in hearings before the Privileges and Elections Committees of both chambers, Philpott said.
He agreed with Andrews that if committee hearings on the new district alignments are extensive enough, the legislature could vote on reapportionment within a week.
Because the new districting plan must be approved by the U.S. Justice Department, which could take 60 days, the filing deadline for House of Delegates candidates in next fall's election will be moved up from June to September, Philpott said.