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- The legislative branch of government in Virginia is the oldest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere, tracing its lineage to the first meeting of the Grand Assembly of governor, councilors, and burgesses at Jamestown on July 30, 1619. Beginning with the session convened on March 2, 1643, an assembly was constituted with a House of Burgesses modeled after the House of Commons in Parliament, with the governor's Council serving as the upper house. Upon adoption of the first state constitution in 1776, the General Assembly was restructured to consist of the House of Delegates and the Senate. The General Assembly is composed of 40 Senators, elected every four years and 100 delegates, elected every two years, who formulate and enact laws in the Commonwealth. Major activities of the state legislature include representing citizens in the formulation of public policy, enacting statutory laws providing a statutory and financial basis for all government actions, electing judicial officers, and confirming executive appointments of the governor.
- In the General Assembly, members of the House of Delegates and the Senate vote on legislation entered during the legislative sessions. Legislative bills can originate in either the House or the Senate, with both chambers having the ability to establish study committees. Each house serves as a check on the other to ensure a thorough debate on the merits of each bill. Currently the General Assembly holds annual sessions, alternately of thirty or sixty days' duration.
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