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The Virginia General Assembly is the legislative body of the Commonwealth of Virginiamarker. The General Assembly is a bicameral body consisting of a lower house, the Virginia House of Delegates, with 100 members, and an upper house, the Senate of Virginia, with 40 members. Combined together, the General Assembly consists of 140 elected representatives from an equal amount of constituent districts across the commonwealth. The House of Delegates is presided over by a Speaker of the House, while the Senate is presided over by the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. The House and Senate each elect a clerk and sergeant-at-arms. Unlike the United States Senate, the Senate of Virginia's clerk is known as the "Clerk of the Senate", instead of the title "Secretary of the Senate" used in the federal U.S. Senate.

Capital

The General Assembly meets in Virginia's capital, Richmondmarker. When sitting in Richmond, the General Assembly holds sessions in the Virginia State Capitolmarker, designed by Thomas Jefferson in 1788 and expanded in 1904. During the American Civil War, the building was used as the capitol of the Confederate States of America, housing the Congress of the Confederate States. The building was renovated between 2005 and 2006. Senators and Delegates have their offices in the General Assembly Building across the street directly north of the Capitol. The Governor of Virginia lives across the street directly east of the Capitol in the Virginia Governor's Mansionmarker.

History

The Virginia General Assembly is the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere. Its existence dates from the establishment of the House of Burgesses at Jamestown in 1619. It met in Jamestown from 1619 until 1699, when it moved to Williamsburg, Virginiamarker and met in the colonial Capitolmarker building. It became the General Assembly in 1776 with the ratification of the Virginia Constitution. The government was moved to Richmond in 1780 during the administration of Governor Thomas Jefferson.

Salary and qualifications

The annual salary for senators is $18,000 per year and for delegates it is $17,640 per year. To qualify for office, legislators must be at least 21 years of age at the time of the election, residents of the district they represent, and qualified to vote for General Assembly legislators. The regular session of the General Assembly is 60 days long during even numbered years and 30 days long during odd numbered years, unless extended by a two-thirds vote of both houses.

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