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Northam outlines priorities for 2020 General Assembly session, including the ERA, gun safety and more


Gov. Ralph Northam announces VA agenda for 2020 General Assembly

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — On Tuesday, the eve of the 2020 General Assembly Session, Gov. Ralph Northam held a news conference with Democrats from the state Senate and House of Delegates.

He listed a number of issues that are the priorities. With Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, many are likely to pass.

On guns, Northam said improving gun safety measures will be key.

“We will advance the common sense gun safety measures a majority of Virginians support and voted for,” he said. “This includes enacting universal background checks and restoring the one handgun a month law.”

Northam then said a red flag law will also be a priority.

“We are going to enact a red flag law … as a number of other states have done. This allows law enforcement and judges to temporarily remove a weapon from a person judged to be a danger,” he said.

The governor then addressed concerns that have come up during the sanctuary city and Second Amendment constitutional city discussions that have taken place across Virginia.

“We are not going to go door to door and confiscate individuals’ weapons. We are going to pass common sense legislation that will keep guns out of … dangerous hands and keep Virginia safer. It is just that simple,” he said to applause from Democrats gathered around him.

Northam continued: “We have no intention of calling out the National Guard. We are not going to cut off people’s electricity.”

The ERA and abortion are also Democratic priorities.

“We will support womens’ rights by passing the Equal Rights Amendment, and we will overturn laws that restrict womens’ rights to decide their own healthcare,” he said.

Here is a list of some of the other policy initiatives on the political plate of Democrats that are likely to pass the General Assembly under Democrat control:

  • Ban discrimination in housing and employment
  • Raise the minimum wage
  • Make voting easier by allowing 45 days of early voting
  • Make Election Day a state holiday
  • Expand broadband to every corner of Virginia
  • Reform the state criminal justice system so punishment better fits the crime
  • Make permanent the temporary ban on suspending drivers’ licenses for unpaid fines
  • Raise teacher pay and invest in historically underfunded black colleges and universities.
  • Remove language that prevented Virginia from joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
  • Budget more dollars for early childhood education, K-12, and higher education.

“That includes investing in schools that have low-income students,” Northam added on the last bullet point.

On dreamers, Northam said: “We will do more to treat dreamers like the citizens they hope to be by allowing them in-state tuition to public colleges and universities.”

“This is the agenda Virginians wanted to see when they voted in November,” Northam added toward the end of his prepared remarks,

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