RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Governor Ralph Northam delivered his State of Commonwealth address Wednesday evening after the 2019 General Assembly session began. He touted his accomplishments from his first year in office, announced his goals for this year and urged lawmakers to find a different path forward from the gridlock in Washington.
Northam highlighted significant milestones of his first year, including Medicaid expansion and winning the Amazon headquarters in Northern Virginia. Then he laid out a diverse array of goals, while quieting rumors that he might run for President.
“I am proud to announce I am going to seriously explore a run for President… of the Eastern Shore Antique Car Club,” he joked.
Northam never mentioned the current President, but criticized the federal government shutdown.
“The Virginia way charges us to put people ahead of politics, and to leave this place better than we found it,” said Northam.
While listing his accomplishments, the Governor touted the expansion of Medicaid to cover 400,000 more Virginians.
"One of them was Kara Murdock. When Kara was 23, she had to have her arm amputated below the elbow due to a blood clot. This left her unable to do her work as a dog groomer, or continue her studies to become a paramedic," he said.
Moving forward, he underscored his goal to increase a planned pay raise for teachers, regulate student loan servicing and expand broadband to rural communities. He also said he wants provide more training for school resource officers to prevent school shootings and pass the so-called “extreme risk law.”
“It creates a legal way for law enforcement and the courts to temporarily remove firearms from someone who has shown dangerous behavior, and who poses a risk to themselves or others,” Northam said.
Northam called for the clean closure of coal ash ponds, the decriminalization of marijuana, making the earned income credit refundable, and ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment.
Delegate Bob Thomas and Senator Steve Newman delivered the Republican response. They announced the GOP is offering bills to make more health insurance plans available in Virginia, including low-cost options. They also say the party is focused on strengthening school safety, creating jobs and lowering taxes.