The 2011-2012 legislative session begins today.
This year's legislature will be markedly different than legislatures of years past. Republicans will hold a majority in both chambers of hte General Assembly for the first time since 1870. A number of the lawmaking body's most prominent figures have stepped down or retired- including hte outgoing democratic Senate leader, Marc Basnight, who spent eighteen years there. The Republican likely to take his place, Senator Phil Berger, was first elected to the legislature in 2000. The speaker of the House is expected to be elected today. A potential 3.7 billion dollar budget gap is the biggest issue looming for legislators, who are already looking for programs to cut.