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Highlighting Gun Control, Passing ERA, Northam and Democrats Reaffirm 2020 Agenda

Governor Ralph Northam stands a podium surrounded by fellow Democratic legislators.
Governor Northam announces his legislative agenda for this year's General Assembly session. (Photo: Crixell Matthews.)

Governor Ralph Northam held a joint press conference Tuesday with the new House and Senate leadership team to outline the Democratic agenda for the 2020 General Assembly session which starts Wednesday, Jan. 8.

Northam joined House Speaker-Designee Eileen Filler Corn, House Majority Leader-Elect Charniele Herring, Senate Majority Leader-Elect Dick Saslaw, and Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Mamie Locke. Together they reaffirmed their agenda for the session. It’s the first time Democrats have been in control of the state house in more than 20years.

“We will support Women’s rights by finally passing the equal rights amendment,” Northam said. “And we will overturn laws to restrict women’s rights to decide their own healthcare.”

House Speaker-Designee Eileen Filler Corn said Virginians want action now.

“Virginians have long-awaited for the opportunity that we will have in front of us tomorrow,” Filler Corn said. “Virginians spoke loud and clear on election day.”

Democrats will also introduce legislation to ban discrimination in housing and employment as well as to raise the minimum wage.

They have at least eight bills planned that tackle gun safety regulations. The sweeping measures have alarmed gun rights advocates across the state in recent months. Dozens of counties have declared themselves “Second Amendment Sanctuaries,” in response to these proposals.

“I want to make a few things perfectly clear,” Northam said. “Number one: Our eight pieces of gun legislation do not threaten the 2nd amendment. Number two: They are all constitutional.

The gun bills include universal background checks, restoring Virginia’s one handgun a month law, and enacting a red flag law to allow law enforcement to temporarily remove firearms from a person who is determined to be a danger.

A Virginia Commonwealth University poll released on Monday shows a majority of Virginians (53%) say gun laws should be stricter.

Whittney Evans is VPM News’ features editor.
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