(WUSA9) -- Virginia's General Assembly started its 60-session today, three days before Governor McAuliffe will be sworn in.
Though the Democrats won all state-wide seats, Republicans still hold a solid majority in the House of Delegates. As Peggy Fox reports, there will be battles on several key issues. For today, there was a warm welcome back.
Opening day has a feel of sadness with Senator Creigh Deeds, (D) of Bath County, returning after the suicide of his son in November. The scars fresh on his face, from his son's knife attack after a hospital bed could not be found in time. The senator has introduced three bills to help prevent similar tragedies.
Del. David Bulova, (D) 37th, said, "I've got a ton of respect fro Creigh Deeds walking back in here,"and determined to fix the mental health system. There is bipartisan support to make changes.
Tim Hugo, (R) 40th, said "I think we're in agreement on mental health. We're going to come together and figure some things out."
Lawmakers may also find a consensus on sol reform and a stricter ethics policy after outgoing Governor Bob McDonnell's gifts scandal which led to a federal investigation and could result in an indictment.
The issue where this is no consensus, where there will certainly be battles, is Medicaid expansion, which is one of Governor-elect McAuliffe's top priorities.
McAuliffe is pushing to expand and collect $5 million a day from the federal government. "Why not accept the money... it'll help create 33,000 new jobs," he said.
But Speaker of the House Bill Howell and many fellow Republicans are firmly opposed,
"It doesn't create jobs, Its going to be very destructive on jobs," said Howell, (R) Stafford County.
"I'm not going to be the guy who bankrupts the state...unless we get assurances we can walk away," said Dave Albo, (R) 42nd.
Delegate Charniele Herring, (D) 46th, says rural Republicans are concerned about hospital closings may turn their support toward some form of expanding Medicaid.
And, a new dynamic this session, two Northern Virginia Republican lawmakers are now competitors, both running for Congressman Frank Wolf's seat.
Outgoing Governor Bob McDonnell has prepared a $96 billion two-year budget for McAuliffe and the legislature to work with.
McDonnell gave his last State of the Commonwealth address tonight.
Written by Peggy Fox