RICHMOND, Va. — On the heels of an historic night for Virginia Democrats, Gov. Ralph Northam laid out a number of priorities for his cabinet members Wednesday. A major priority being the passage of gun control measures in the coming months.
Speaking Wednesday morning, Gov. Northam said he plans to reintroduce eight bills he says will “save lives in Virginia,” including universal background checks, bans on assault weapons as well as extreme risk protective orders, also called a red flag law.
“Virginia spoke and we’re going to listen and we’re going to take action,” Gov. Northam said.
Following the deadly shooting in Virginia Beach in May, Gov. Northam called lawmakers back to Richmond for a special session on how to prevent gun violence. After 90 minutes, it was adjourned by Republicans who then tasked the Virginia State Crime Commission to evaluate the proposals.
House Speaker Kirk Cox, who won his reelection last night, as well as other members of GOP leadership called the special session an “election-year stunt.”
The commission is expected to meet next week, ahead of lawmakers returning to Richmond to decide what to do with the legislation.
When asked about his expectations for the special session later this, the governor said he is “willing to work with them.”
“I don’t know what their plans,” he said. “We are in November. Right around the corner is January and we’ll be back into session so, I suspect most of the work to be done in January.”
Virginia Democrats took control of the House of Delegates and state Senate following the election for the first time in more than 20 years.
Other priorities Northam laid out to his cabinet Wednesday and reporters include decriminalizing marijuana, increasing support for early childhood education, more training for high schools to enter the workforce, and reducing the recidivism rate.
Northam says with the Democratic majority, he hopes the Equal Rights Amendment is brought to a floor vote. He thinks more progress can be made with raising the minimum wage.
“I expect there to be a dialogue,” he added. “To what level we get and to how fast we get there, I can’t tell you but we’re certainly open and I’ll support raising the minimum wage.”
Because of the new Democratic majority, when lawmakers return for the 2020 General Assembly session Cox will no longer be the Speaker of the House of Delegates. Gov. Northam would not comment on which Democrat he thinks should take up the role.
After the election results were released, Speaker Cox said in a statement, “The results did not happen by accident, and they are not guaranteed to continue. The course set by the next General Assembly will affect the lives of millions for years to come.”