Home Virginia Politics Virginia Inauguration Open Thread

Virginia Inauguration Open Thread


I probably won’t be watching the inauguration live today, as I’ve got other stuff to do, but if you want to see it, you can watch on CSPAN or on the Virginia General Assembly feed. Congratulations to Terry McAuliffe as he’s sworn in as the 72nd governor of Virginia. Also, congratulations to Ralph Northam and Mark Herring as they’re sworn in as Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General, respectively.

A few of my top priorities (in no particular order) for Terry McAuliffe once he’s sworn in? These are ones that might theoretically happen; there would be many others if we had a reasonable, sane House of Delegates (which we most certainly don’t).

1. Medicaid expansion – absolutely crucial to hundreds of thousands of Virginians, no excuse not to do it other than Republicans’ Obama Derangement Syndrome.

2. Serious ethics reform, not the faux-reform (worse than nothing at all in many ways) we’ve seen so far.

3. Protecting LGBT state employees from discrimination on the job (it would be great to repeal the heinous anti-LGBT-marriage amendment, but good luck getting the culture warriors who control the House of Delegates to agree to that.)

4. Doing everything he can do to fight global warming and protect the environment, including [UPDATE repeal of the hybrid tax], opposition to anything that increases sprawl development or encourages dangerous fossil fuel extraction practices (e.g., “fracking” in the George Washington National Forest; offshore oil drilling, mountaintop removal coal mining). That means a focus on transit and smart growth, NOT on new roads. It also means a focus on promoting non-carbon-based energy sources, and absolutely NOT wasting our time and money on boondoggles like carbon capture and sequestration, or the Orwellian/nonsensical concept of “clean coal” (in fact, there’s absolutely nothing clean about this fuel, as the ongoing West Virginia disaster demonstrates to us yet again!).

5. Doing everything he can to expand the right to vote. That means restoring voting rights to any ex-felon who has done his/her time and paid his/her debt to society. It also means fighting to roll back voter suppression efforts we saw in the last administration.

6. Fighting hard to protect a woman’s right to choose, have access to essential health care services and contraception, etc.

7. Getting rid of wasteful, taxpayer-funded corporate welfare, particularly to companies that are actually harmful to our state (e.g., the coal companies).

8. Invest in Virginia’s future – education (including reform/scrapping “teach to the test” stupidity; also emphasize lifetime learning/job retraining, including for the long-term unemployed), smart infrastructure investments, etc.

Please jump in and list your priorities in the comments section! Thanks.

UPDATE 12:50 pm: Mark Herring, Ralph Northam, and Terry McAuliffe have now been sworn in. McAuliffe is delivering his address, praising the “Virginia way,” thanking Bob McDonnell and other predecessors for their efforts, and pledging to prove that divided government can work here in Virginia. Honor the sacrifice of our service members by ensuring they have access education, health care & career opportunities. Emphasizes importance of our community colleges as workforce development engines. Reduce unnecessary mandates, achieve adequate funding. Virginians expect transparency; will sign executive order imposing strict gift limit on members of his administration (including himself). Will ask the General Assembly to enect the strongest possible new ethics laws. We need to accept Medicaid funding to expand healthcare coverage, spur job creation, put Virginians’ own tax dollars to work, etc. Need to diversify and grow Virginia’s economy – in every part of the Commonwealth – in the face of federal budget cuts and heightened competition from abroad. Will work tirelessly to ensure that opportunities are equal for all of Virginia’s children, no matter your race, religion, sexual orientation, where you come from, what part of the Commonwealth you live in, etc. Ensure that nobody can lose their job simply because they are gay. Ensure that women can make their own personal healthcare choices. An opening and welcoming state critical in a 21st century economy. We have an obligation to those less fortunate. The impediments to consensus are well known; the key is figuring out how to overcome them. Nobody looks back and wishes they had been more rigid, more ideological, or more partisan. Quotes Thomas Jefferson on importance of compromise. The next 4 years in Virginia can show what can be accomplished by mainstream leaders.

P.S. Photo of Terry McAuliffe delivering his inaugural address by Catherine S. Read.

  • Elaine in Roanoke

    Sam is wasting no time in getting busy with priorities. He has signed on as chief co-sponsor on two bills already: 1. Expand pre-K education funding. 2. Anti-discrimination in housing law expanded to include sexual orientation.

    He’s a breath of fresh air for the Roanoke Valley.

  • kindler

    There are actually quite a few bills in the hopper to do this, so I hope it gets done.  This was one of the biggest mistakes in McDonnell’s transportation plan, punishing rather than rewarding people for saving gas — completely backwards policy.  

    Thanks to Dems leading on this — including Scott Surovell, Adam Ebbin, Chap, Kaye Kory and Marcus Simon — as well as a few Republicans.  Since the GOP is against all taxes anyway, maybe we can actually get this one passed?

  • (photo courtesy of Mark Warner’s Facebook page)

  • hrprogressive

    McAullife has said that he was going to try and do something about making the tolls better at the Midtown/Downtown Tunnels in Hampton Roads.

    I personally feel like the morons got what they voted for, because there should have been a tax increase, probably statewide, to help pay for fixing these bridges/tunnels.

    Instead, because the anti-tax zealotry runs so damn hard particularly at a local level, the citizens are now gifted with tolls that, based on what I’ve read, will allow the private contractor who is taking it over to make up to 13.5 profit (not revenue!) on the tolls.

    I actually have a job that could theoretically require me to use the tunnel and pay the toll. I also have a sneaking suspicion that there’s a chance that come February, there will be so many “anti-toll” people on the roads who will avoid the tunnels like the Plague that they will cause unreasonable levels of congestion on remaining Hampton Roads thoroughfares (if you can even call them that) such that the only ‘fast’ option will be to pony up and pay the toll.

    With the job I have now, I can actually probably afford the toll. But that doesn’t apply to everyone, and really, the idea of tolling not just one but two vital routes in and out of the water-surrounded regions…is preposterous.

    Even if it ends up only being tokenistic, I think the sooner T-Mac can do something, anything, to provide relief for commuters at these areas will go a long way to how well his administration is able to function.

  • Inaugural Address

    Governor Terence R. McAuliffe

    January 11, 2014


    As Prepared for Delivery

    Mr. Speaker,  Lt. Governor Northam, Attorney General Herring, Members of the  General Assembly,  Justices of the  Supreme Court,  guests from across our Commonwealth and nation, my fellow Virginians:  It is humbling, and the highest honor of my life, to stand before you today.

    It is humbling because of the responsibility that you have given me, and because of the history and tradition of where we stand.

    While makeshift, the Virginia State Capitol first came to Richmond in 1780 at the urging of Thomas Jefferson – during the height of the American Revolution.

    Through the courage and sacrifice of so many who came before us, our Commonwealth survived the Revolution. Freedom was born. Tyranny was defeated. And a permanent Capitol was constructed here in Richmond.

    This Capitol, where I stand today, reminds us not only of the durability of Virginia, but of what Virginia overcame.

    While often too slowly – together we overcame the evils of slavery, Civil War, and segregation.

    Now, more than 200 years later, Virginia has grown stronger than ever.

    Relative to the nation, we’ve emerged from the Great Recession with an economy more resilient than many of our sister states.

    We are a stronger Commonwealth because our leaders have wisely invested in superior public schools for our children.

    We are one of the best states to do business because we have worked together to minimize regulations and keep taxes low.

    Our colleges and universities are models for the nation because there is bipartisan consensus in Richmond that higher education drives long-term, innovative growth.

    And Virginia is the national model for fiscal discipline because our leaders- leaders like Governor Doug Wilder, decided long ago to put the common good ahead of short-term politics.

    That’s the Virginia way – it’s a tradition that we should be proud of.

    But it is also a tradition that must be sustained through constant work by leaders who choose progress over ideology.

    Common ground doesn’t move towards us, we move towards it.

    On behalf of all Virginians, I want to thank Governor Bob McDonnell for his leadership during the last four years.

    Governor McDonnell has provided for the smoothest transition imaginable, and I am grateful to him for that.

    He and Lieutenant Governor Bolling will long be remembered for their leadership on transportation – not just for the policy accomplishment, but for the manner in which it was achieved.

    It was an approach that built consensus worthy of the Virginia way.

    It’s the same approach taken by Governor Warner to save our triple A bond rating while investing in education, and by Governor Kaine who prudently guided our Commonwealth through the great recession.

    But as we celebrate our past, the truth is that we still face serious economic headwinds over the course of the next four years.

    And, like four years ago, the skeptics are predicting divided government driven to gridlock by partisanship.

    Virginia, together, we will prove them wrong again.

    As Virginians, the spirit of service is built into the fabric of our communities.

    We were home to so many of the founders who sacrificed their lives to build a nation based on the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    And now today, Virginia is home to so many who serve to protect those everlasting rights. Join me in recognizing them and their families.

    I remember growing up, hearing stories of sacrifice from my father who served in World War II.

    These are the same stories that Virginians hear every night from parents and grandparents –

    and from brothers and sisters returning home now.

    We will honor their sacrifice by ensuring that they have access to the education, health care, and career opportunities they deserve.

    Our servicemen and women have the technical training our innovative industries demand, and they embody that strong sense of teamwork, leadership, and drive that make them valuable assets to our workforce. That is why we need to make it easier for them to get good jobs when they come back home.

    Our 23 community colleges have and will continue to play a major part in this effort. They are our workforce development engines, and over the past year, I visited each and every one of them across the state.

    They are preparing our students for the jobs available today and equipping them with the knowledge and skills for the emerging industries of tomorrow.

    With a community college within 30 miles of every single Virginian, they are the key to attracting and keeping the industries of the future across the Commonwealth- from Arlington to Abingdon; Luray to Lunenburg.

    But, in order to do that, we must work to reduce unnecessary mandates and achieve adequate funding.

    We must also recognize that Virginians have placed great trust in us and expect transparency, and decision-making that avoids improper conflicts.  That is why I will sign an executive order later today imposing a strict limit on gifts on myself and the members of my administration.

    I commend the members of the General Assembly from both parties who are making significant steps forward on this issue, and I will ask the entire General Assembly to enact the strongest possible new ethics rules to hold all Virginia elected officials to the highest of standards.

    While there is a fierce debate on health care in Washington DC,  the choice we face here in Virginia is simpler.

    Like the majority of other states — we need to act on the consensus of the business community and health care industry to accept funding that will expand health care coverage, save rural hospitals, and spur job creation.

    With a stronger health care system in Virginia as our objective, I will work with the legislature to build on the Medicaid reforms that the General Assembly has already achieved, and to put Virginians’ own tax dollars to work keeping families healthy and creating jobs here in the Commonwealth.

    Finally, the greatest policy challenge we face is diversifying Virginia’s economy in the face of inevitable federal spending cuts and heightened competition from abroad.

    Mr. Speaker and members of the General Assembly, as we begin this term together, know that my top priority will be to lay the groundwork for a diverse and growing economy in every region of the Commonwealth.

    And I know it is your top priority as well.

    Diversifying Virginia’s economy can seem abstract – especially when the true benefits may be felt years down the road.

    But over the past four years I’ve traveled to every corner of the Commonwealth, and met hard working Virginians who are struggling to provide for their families, unable to access the quality education and training they need to get good-paying jobs, or even worried about just providing healthy meals for their children.

    When you think about those Virginians, you realize that the decisions we make over the next four years will determine:

    Whether parents who worked hard their entire life will have the savings to retire with some security.

    Whether the brave men and women who return home from serving abroad can find work or start their own businesses.

    Whether children who grow up in rural Virginia can live, work and thrive in the communities where they were born.

    And it will determine whether another kid from a middle class family can find enough customers for his driveway maintenance business to help pay for college.

    As the legislature and my administration work to diversify our economy, we need to remember that our sense of urgency is driven by those Virginians who struggle each and every day to get by – and whose dream is simply to give their children the opportunities that they may never have had.

    My administration will work tirelessly to ensure that those opportunities are equal for all of Virginia’s children –

    No matter if you’re a girl or a boy,

    No matter what part of the Commonwealth you live in,

    No matter your race or religion,

    And no matter whom you love.

    There is still work to do to.

    We must work to ensure that the children of new immigrants to Virginia have equal educational opportunities.

    To ensure that someone can’t lose a job simply because they are gay.

    And to ensure that every woman has the right to make her own personal health care decisions.

    An open and welcoming state is critical in a 21st Century economy.  But, it is also an imperative for justice and fairness – values I learned from Jack and Millie McAuliffe.

    While we grew up in a middle class family, my brothers and I were always reminded of the struggles of those less fortunate – and our obligation to do something about it.

    It’s that same message that has guided Dorothy and me as we’ve raised our five children in Fairfax County over the last 21 years.  And as our children have grown, they’ve constantly impressed us with their dedication to service and improving the lives of others.

    It’s also those values that shaped me as a person and drove my decision to run for Governor.

    In four years, we will all gather again here at Jefferson’s capitol to welcome the next Governor of the Commonwealth.

    When she or he takes the oath of office, I am confident that they will begin to lead a Commonwealth with broader economic opportunity and growing 21st Century industries.

    They will lead a Commonwealth that has expanded our advantages in pre K-12 education, workforce development and higher education.

    They will lead a Commonwealth that has maintained a reputation for strong fiscal management.

    They will lead a Commonwealth that strives to keep all of its families healthy.

    They will lead a Commonwealth that never stands still on the road to greater equality for all our people.

    And they will lead a Commonwealth that has delivered those results in a manner worthy of the Virginia way.

    The impediments to consensus are well known: ideology, personal political ambition, partisanship or score-settling. Identifying the roadblocks is not a challenge.

    What is hard is having the humility to admit that each of us has allowed these impediments to influence our decisions.

    And even more challenging is having the foresight to put them aside for the greater good.

    As I said on election night, the test of my commitment to finding common ground in Virginia will not be a speech at an inauguration; it will be my actions in office. And I expect those who did not support me in November to hold me to my word.

    No one who has served as an elected official has looked back and wished they had been more rigid, more ideological or more partisan.

    And long after giving up elected office describing himself as quote “near the end of my voyage” Thomas Jefferson wrote from Monticello, “A government held together by the bands of reason only, requires much compromise of opinion.”

    Mr. Speaker, Delegates and Senators, these next four years will be our moment to again show Americans what can be accomplished by mainstream leaders, and to show Virginians that we will live up to their expectation of consensus-driven progress.

    In Washington today, that talk of consensus can seem quaint, illusory or even naïve.

    But in Virginia, political progress in divided government is a tradition that we must continue.

    I will work to live up to that tradition.

    Now, I begin serving with humility to the accomplishments of my predecessors and gratitude to the people of Virginia.

    Thank you and may God bless the Commonwealth of Virginia.

  • Governor McAuliffe Signs Executive Order Number 1 Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity

    Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed Executive Order Number 1 at the Capitol of Virginia on Saturday, which prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, political affiliation, or against otherwise qualified persons with disabilities in Virginia state government. McAuliffe signed the Executive Order immediately following his inauguration.

    “My administration is committed to keeping Virginia open and welcoming to all who call our Commonwealth home,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Executive Order Number 1 sets the tone for an administration that will not accept discrimination in any form, and one that will work tirelessly to ensure all Virginians have equal opportunity in the workplace, no matter their backgrounds, race, religion, or whom they love.”

    The text of Executive Order Number 1 is as follows:

    NUMBER ONE (2014)


    Importance of the Initiative

    By virtue of the authority vested in me as Governor, I hereby declare that it is the firm and unwavering policy of the Commonwealth of Virginia to assure equal opportunity in all facets of state government. The foundational tenet of this Executive Order is premised upon a steadfast commitment to foster a culture of inclusion, diversity, and mutual respect for all Virginians.

    This policy specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, political affiliation, or against otherwise qualified persons with disabilities. The policy permits appropriate employment preferences for veterans and specifically prohibits discrimination against veterans.

    State appointing authorities and other management principals are hereby directed to take affirmative measures, as determined by the Director of the Department of Human Resource Management, to emphasize the recruitment of qualified minorities, women, disabled persons, and older Virginians to serve at all levels of state government. This directive does not permit or require the lowering of bona fide job requirements, performance standards, or qualifications to give preference to any state employee or applicant for state employment.

    Allegations of violations of this policy shall be brought to the attention of the Office of Equal Employment Services of the Department of Human Resource Management. No state appointing authority, other management principal, or supervisor shall take retaliatory actions against persons making such allegations.

    Any state employee found in violation of this policy shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary action.

    The Secretary of Administration is directed to review and update annually state procurement, employment, and other relevant policies to ensure compliance with the non-discrimination mandate contained herein, and shall report to the Governor his or her findings together with such recommendations as he or she deems appropriate. The Director of the Department of Human Resource Management shall assist in this review.

    This Executive Order supersedes and rescinds Executive Order No. 6 (2010), Equal Opportunity, issued by Governor Robert F. McDonnell on February 5, 2010.

    Effective Date of the Executive Order

    This Executive Order shall become effective upon its signing and shall remain in full force and effect until amended or rescinded by further executive order.

    Given under my hand and under the Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia this 11th day of January 2014.

  • Photo by Adam Zuckerman.