© 2024
Virginia's Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Redistricting might prevent some state lawmakers from participating in budget special session

Mallory Noe-Payne
Radio IQ

Members of the General Assembly finished their legislative session without passing a budget, and they are expected to return to the Capitol soon to finish the job. But, all members of the legislature might not be able to participate.

Several members of the General Assembly are packing their bags and moving to a new home address so they can run for office later this year, when candidates will have new district maps thanks to redistricting.

Now, some of the incumbent members may no longer live in the districts they currently represent, and Carl Tobias at the University of Richmond Law School says that probably means those members can't participate in any special session to deal with the budget.

"It seems like it’s a very strong constitutional command that if you’re not living in that district, you’re not representing it and probably should not be participating," explains Tobias.

The Virginia Constitution says, “a senator or delegate who moves his residence from the district for which he is elected shall thereby vacate his office.” Virginia legal expert Rich Kelsey says that doesn't really leave a lot of wiggle room.

"If one of these delegates is going to file paperwork that says that they have moved, have already moved outside of the district they represent, then they are required to resign their seat," Kelsey says. "And that requirement isn't at the end of this term. That is now."

The deadline for candidates to run in the 2023 election cycle is next month, and candidates are required to live in the district for some time before filing. So, these are decisions that need to be made now.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.