RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam delivered this year’s State of the Commonwealth address to the Joint Assembly Wednesday night.
Tuesday, Northam and legislative leaders announced they will move forward with a “Virginia 2020” plan of common-sense measures following the General Assembly’s first meeting earlier Wednesday.
“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.”
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.
The General Assembly convened at noon Wednesday.
You can watch the governor’s State of the Commonwealth address above.
To read more on the new plan, click here.