Northam calls for special session to focus on budget, police

RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has called for a special legislative session next month to focus on the state budget in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic as well as criminal and social justice reform.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that Northam's office made the announcement Friday. Lawmakers will be due back in Richmond on Aug. 18.

"I look forward to bringing legislators back in session as we continue to navigate these unprecedented times," the Democratic governor said in a statement. "We have a unique opportunity to provide critical support to Virginians, invest strategically in our economic recovery, and make progress on policing and criminal justice reform. Let's get to work."

The governor's office said he expects to champion legislation that's "aimed at police accountability and oversight, use of force, increased training and education, and officer recruitment, hiring, and decertification."

Lawmakers will also look at revenues and spending affected by the pandemic.

State Senator John Edwards believes this special session is necessary to prevent the coronavirus from spreading any further.

“It’s a worldwide problem, and our country is not doing very well. Virginia is doing better than most states, but look at Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California. It’s really awful,” Edwards said.

Procedural rules could require lawmakers to convene for at least two weeks.