RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Governor Ralph Northam (D) called on the new Virginia General Assembly to embrace and adapt to the changes that Virginia has undergone in the past year during his State of the Commonwealth address on Wednesday.
“The changes in this General Assembly reflect the changes in Virginia. Virginia has grown by 600,000 people since then. That’s like adding a new Richmond and a new Virginia Beach, in just a decade,” Northam said.
The governor spoke on Virginia’s economic status and growth during his second year in office, as well as his vision to pass gun-safety measures during this year’s legislative session.
“Today, more people are working than ever before. Statewide unemployment has dropped to record lows. That’s good, and we need to keep this momentum going,” Northam told lawmakers. “But wages haven’t kept up. Too many people are under-employed, and we can’t ignore that fact.”
Northam was joined by Democratic leadership on the eve of the 2020 General Assembly session to share the legislative agenda he hopes to accomplish. Near the end of his remarks, Northam addressed the effort to pass gun-control legislature in the wake of the Virginia Beach mass shooting.
So we are back, with eight common-sense measures to keep dangerous persons away from firearms. If you have demonstrated extreme risk of violence, or there’s a protective order against you, you shouldn’t have a firearm. This means universal background checks. If there’s nothing in your record, you have nothing to worry about.
Let’s be clear. This is all fully consistent with the Second Amendment. Every one of these proposals has passed constitutional muster. Other states have passed them into law. They were drafted by your own attorneys at Legislative Services, and teams of lawyers have reviewed them.
It’s clear that a majority of Virginians support these measures, and so do a majority of you. Many of you ran on common-sense gun safety, on both sides of the aisle.
I know that “thoughts and prayers” are important and well-intended, after an act of violence. But Virginians spoke in November, and they expect votes and laws to make Virginia safer.
As this discussion begins, let’s have an honest conversation based on fact, not fear. We will engage in civil dialogue. I ask all Virginians to refrain from promoting fear and intimidation.Gov. Northam on gun-safety measures in his State of the Commonwealth address
Del. Roxann Robinson (R-Chesterfield) and state Sen. David Suetterlein (R-Roanoke) delivered the Republican’s response to Northam’s address.
Robinson mostly gave a congratulatory message to Democrats but she also shared concerns from Republicans about the proposals the new General Assembly could adopt this year that could change laws established decades ago.
“Regardless of party, today is a day all Virginians can be proud of,” the delegate from Chesterfield said.
“While we are hopeful, we are deeply concerned at early signs that they may indeed reverse course. Bills have been filed that would undo more than 50 years of Virginia labor law. Others would add onerous burdens to Virginia businesses, imposing crippling government mandates on the small businesses that drive our economy,” Robinson continued.
Check back for updates to this developing story.