(Credit: VAPLAN)

by Brandon Jarvis

Both chambers of Virginia’s General Assembly convened Wednesday at 12 p.m. for the first day of the 2021 legislative session. Typically, the environment around the start of the session is exciting, but the mood on the floor of the Senate was somber to start the session this year. 

Senate Republican Leader Tommy Norment (James City) immediately motioned for a vote on a resolution to suspend the rules in order for senators to attend and participate in sessions virtually.

This comes after Senator Ben Chafin passed away from COVID-19 on January 1. 

Through tears, Senator Todd Pillion (R-Abingdon) spoke in honor of Chafin’s memory. “Southwest Virginia is a much better place thanks to Ben.”

Chafin’s desk on the floor was draped in black cloth and senators covered it with roses in his memory.

  “We need to look no further than that desk right there,” said Senator Monty Mason (D-Williamsburg), when looking for proof of how devastating COVID-19 has been, or how much Chafin is loved. 

“Ben was a shining example of a wonderful gentleman who always found the best in anyone he talked to,” said Senator John Cosgrove (R-Chesapeake). “I hope that we will all remember Ben as the gentleman and wonderful person he actually was.”

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By vascope