Northam, Virginia Democrats outline priorities of 2020 General Assembly session

Capitol Connection

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Gov. Ralph Northam shared the legislative priorities Virginia Democrats will pursue in the upcoming 2020 General Assembly session on Tuesday alongside new leadership from both chambers.

With House-Speaker-designee Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) and incoming Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) with him, Northam announced an 11-point agenda that Democrats have dubbed the “Virginia 2020 Plan”

“We are presenting an agenda that is different from every previous General Assembly session,” Northam said. “It’s more forward looking than ever before, and it reflects what Virginians sent us here to do.”

The first legislative priority on the “Virginia 2020 Plan” is the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. “It’s long overdue,” a release from the governor’s office said. The second issue that the plan hopes to tackle is restoring women’s reproductive rights by overturning “laws that have injected politics into women’s healthcare.”

“This leadership team is united, and we’re going to do great things for Virginia this session,” Filler-Corn said Tuesday. “We intend to protect Virginia’s greatest assets and lean in where it’s needed.”

Other issues that Democrats hope to address in 2020 include expanding affordable housing, banning discrimination in housing and employment, raising Virginia’s minimum wage and passing “common-sense gun-safety measures.”

Gun-safety legislation that Northam aims to pass — universal background checks, adopting a “red flag” law and restoring the “1 handgun a month” law — could soon be a possibility in a newly Democratic-led state government.

Priorities in the “Virginia 2020 Plan”:

  1. Pass the Equal Rights Amendment. 
  2. Restore women’s reproductive rights. 
  3. Expand affordable housing. 
  4. Ban discrimination in housing and employment. 
  5. Raise the minimum wage. 
  6. Make voting easier. 
  7. Reform criminal justice. 
  8. Advance common-sense gun safety measures. 
  9. Fight climate change, protect natural resources. 
  10. Increase education funding. 
  11. Expand transit and broadband. 

“We have a lot to do,” said incoming Senate Majority Leader Saslaw. “We’re going to make sure that Virginia becomes an even better place to work and do business, and we’re going to invest in our future.”

Democrats also wish to advance legislation that could make it easier to vote in Virginia and measures for criminal justice reform, two initiatives that Northam has pushed for recently.

New leadership in the Democratic controlled House and state Senate, incoming House Majority Leader Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) and incoming Senate Caucus Chair Maime Locke (D-Hampton), were also in attendance on Tuesday.

“This legislature is more diverse than ever,” Herring said. “We are eager to ensure a diversity of voices makes our lawmaking reflect a modern Virginia.”

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

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