Delegates Receive $8,651 Average in Per Diems from 2021 Sessions

Members of the Virginia House of Delegates earn $17,640 per year and a per diem of $211 while in session, including days off during the session. The per diem is meant to help legislators pay for housing costs ($145/day) and food ($66/day) while in Richmond, but legislators have continued accepting the per diem even during the virtual house sessions of 2021 and 2020. For the 2021 sessions alone, that added up to an average total per diem per delegate of $8,651 — over $800,000 for all 100 delegates, according to reporting by The Virginian-Pilot.

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Out-of-Court Settlement Reached to Provide Space for Virginia Legislators to Meet With Constituents

On New Years Eve, Senator Bill DeSteph (R-Virginia Beach) struck a deal with leaders of the Virginia General Assembly that will provide space for constituents to meet with legislators near the Capitol grounds even though the Pocahontas Building and Capitol Building remain closed to outsiders due to COVID-19.

DeSteph said the out-of-court settlement was a win. “This will allow citizens, subject matter experts, and other professional staff to meet face-to-face with legislators during the upcoming regular session. This is a huge victory for the First Amendment and for open access to government for all Virginians,” the press release states.

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Virginia State Senator Sues Democratic Leaders Over Public Access to Office Building

Republican Senator Bill DeSteph (R-Virginia Beach) is suing Democratic legislative leaders over plans to restrict the public’s access to the Pocahontas Building during the upcoming regular session due to a rise in COVID-19 numbers.

On Tuesday, DeSteph filed a complaint in Richmond Circuit Court against Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax County), Senate Rules Committee Chair Mamie Locke (D-Hampton), both the clerk of the House and the Senate as well as the Virginia Division of Capitol Police.

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Injunction Filed Against Democratic State Legislators for Shutting Out Public from General Assembly

State Senator Bill DeSteph (R-Virginia Beach) and attorney Tim Anderson filed a petition for injunction against Democratic legislators to preserve constituents’ in-person access to General Assembly members. State Senator Mamie Locke (D-Hampton), Chair of Senate Rules, and Speaker Eileen Filler Corn (D-Fairfax) decided to close the Pocahontas building to the public, which hosts office appointments for both the House of Delegates and State Senate.

“The closure of the legislative office building to the public is contrary to the explicit historical purpose of the building to allow the public access to its elected legislative members, especially during the General Assembly Session,” read the lawsuit. “Most importantly, the right to assemble and address lawmakers at the state and federal levels is fundamentally protected by the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution: a. ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.'”

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