Northam addresses state of the Commonwealth following kick off to 2019 General Assembly

Northam addresses state of the Commonwealth following kick off to 2019 General Assembly
The General Assembly session begins this week in Richmond.

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - State lawmakers are back in Richmond on Wednesday as the General Assembly began its 2019 legislative session.

This year’s session lasts 45 days and will end on Feb. 23.

The Associated Press says this year marks the 400th anniversary of the founding of the House of Burgesses at Jamestown, the New World’s first representative legislative assembly.

Northam hopes lawmakers will pass a bill this session to protect voting rights and reform campaign finance laws.

The Democratic governor said he wants to break down what he calls barriers to voting, starting with the controversial requirement that voters show photo identification.

“While photo ID laws are intended to reduce voter fraud, very little such voter fraud actually exists. Instead of fixing a problem, the photo ID law just makes it harder for people, especially minority voters or low-income voters to lawfully vote,” said Northam on Monday.

Also during this session:

- Republicans are outlining a tax plan they say avoids a “hidden” tax hike and is a better deal for lower and middle class taxpayers than Northam’s recent proposal.

- Northam’s budget includes an expansion to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Virginia Mercury reports.

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