See below for video of Gov. Northam, along with House and Senate leaders, announcing joint legislative priorities for the upcoming General Assembly session: ratifying the ERA, expanding affordable housing, passing non-discrimination laws, raising the minimum wage, making voting easier (including making Election Day a state holiday), reforming the criminal justice system, raising the felony larceny threshold, passing “commonsense gun safety measures” (e.g., universal background checks, one-handgun-a-month, a “red-flag” law), etc. According to Northam, “our eight pieces of gun legislation do not threaten the Second Amendment” and are all constitutional. “We have no intention of calling out the National Guard; we’re not going to cut off people’s electricity; we’re not going to go door-to-door and confiscate individuals’ weapons.”
Also: “We will continue to position Virginia to be a clean energy leader…and we will continue investing in water quality…take bold actions to combat climate change.” “We will build on our already strong education system….We’ll raise teacher pay…make it more affordable for students to attend college,” allow DREAMers in-state tuition…”they are seeking the American dream.” Invest more in broadband…a “necessity for communities.” “We will expand our transit and transportation systems…so more people can move around the Commonwealth more efficiently.”
Speaker-designee Eileen Filler-Corn: “We will govern the legislature in a strong, inclusive and transparent manner…and we will get results.”
Majority Leader Charniele Herring: “building a stronger democracy for everybody…for every Virginian to have access to the vote, to the ballot box…the legislature is more diverse than ever before…”
Majority Leader Dick Saslaw: “…a lot better Commonwealth to live and grow in…gun safety is extremely important, make no mistake about it…make this state a better place for workers,” business and kids…
Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Mamie Locke: Virginia 2020 plan is “robust” and one “we expect to accomplish” this session. “Despite everything [slavery, Jim Crow, etc.], here I stand…as a leader of wonderful colleagues who will do great things this session.” The November 2019 election was an opportunity to carry forth “great government.” “We are here to govern and to govern well.”
Governor and Legislative Leaders Launch Session United, Advance Common-Sense ‘Virginia 2020 Plan’
RICHMOND—Governor Ralph S. Northam and legislative leaders today announced they will advance an 11-point ‘Virginia 2020 Plan’ of common-sense measures when the General Assembly convenes tomorrow.
House Speaker-designee Eileen Filler-Corn and incoming Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw joined the Governor, along with incoming House Majority Leader Charniele Herring and incoming Senate Caucus Chair Mamie Locke to announce the plan.
The ‘Virginia 2020 Plan’ includes:
- Pass the Equal Rights Amendment. It’s long overdue.
- Restore women’s reproductive rights. Overturn laws that have injected politics into women’s healthcare.
- Expand affordable housing. More funding for the Virginia House Trust Fund. Establish an Eviction Prevention and Diversion Pilot Program.
- Ban discrimination in housing and employment. Codify prohibitions on housing and employment discrimination against LGBTQ people.
- Raise the minimum wage. Virginians have waited too long. Legislative process will determine specifics and timeframe for implementation.
- Make voting easier. End the requirement to tell the state why you need to vote early. Make Election Day a state holiday.
- Reform criminal justice. Make permanent the current temporary ban on suspending driver’s licenses for unpaid fines. Raise the threshold for felony larceny. Hire more public defenders.
- Advance common-sense gun safety measures. Keep prohibited persons away from firearms. Universal background checks. “Red flag” law. Restore longstanding “1 handgun a month” law.
- Fight climate change, protect natural resources. Advance clean energy. Join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Increase water funding to clean the Chesapeake Bay.
- Increase education funding. Early childhood education. K-12 funding, including teacher raises and “at-risk add-on” special funding for high-poverty schools. Fund HBCUs. College affordability and free community college for low- and middle-income people going into high-demand fields. In-state tuition for DREAMers.
- Expand transit and broadband. Move commuters and passengers faster, more efficiently. Bring broadband to more parts of Virginia.
“We are presenting an agenda that is different from every previous General Assembly session,” said Governor Northam. “It’s more forward looking than ever before, and it reflects what Virginians sent us here to do.”
“This leadership team is united, and we’re going to do great things for Virginia this session,” said Speaker-designee Filler-Corn. “We intend to protect Virginia’s greatest assets and lean in where it’s needed.”
“We have a lot to do,” said incoming Senate Majority Leader Saslaw. “We’re going to make sure that Virginia becomes an even better place to work and do business, and we’re going to invest in our future.”
“This legislature is more diverse than ever,” said incoming House Majority Leader Herring. “We are eager to ensure a diversity of voices makes our lawmaking reflect a modern Virginia.”
“Virginia is stronger when leaders unite,” said Senator Locke. “This upcoming session marks a new era for Virginia, and we will deliver the results people expect.”
The General Assembly convenes at noon tomorrow. Governor Northam will deliver his State of the Commonwealth address at 7:00 PM.