General Assembly session begins with first woman Speaker, more diversity

General Assembly session begins with first woman Speaker, more diversity

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - History was made today as the 2020 General Assembly session began. For the first time, a woman was elected Speaker of the House as the Democrats took control of the House and Senate.

Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D - Fairfax) was unanimously elected the first woman and first Jewish Speaker of the House.

In her opening remarks, she reflected on how her face represents a change from the history and faces of mostly white male leaders featured in portraits hung throughout the Capitol.

“These paintings serve as a silent and critical reminder of where we have been, and how far we have to go to reach the promise of equality on which this nation was founded— in large part by the words and the deeds of Virginians, both for good and for ill,” said Filler-Corn.

And she laid out her priorities for this session.

“This House will pass the Equal Rights Amendment. And we will address discrimination in our laws. We will take common-sense measures to prevent gun violence and keep Virginians safe,” said Filler-Corn.

But those promises have Republican House leadership concerned.

“We think we’ve put ourselves in a good posture to hand off this work product to folks we fear are going to undo it very quickly. We intend to lay down markers and every time they hurt Virginia and Virginians, we hope to hold them accountable,” said House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah).

Bills to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment and to increase gun control are already the most controversial, as leaders spar over what’s being said about the proposals.

“Thousands of people showing up for public events to express their displeasure at being turned into felons who purchased a lawful firearm or firearm magazine,” said Gilbert of the proposed gun control bills.

“We asked that the discussion be civil and based in fact, not misinformation and intimidation,” said Governor Ralph Northam at a press conference about his gun control measures.

“We’re not going to go door-to-door and confiscate individuals’ weapons,” said Northam.

While this session is expected to be contentious, it also marks a historic moment in Virginia.

“When you look out at our General Assembly members, they will much more reflect society and that’s something we should all be proud of,” said Northam.

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