Gov. Northam outlines his goals during State of Commonwealth address

Published: Jan. 8, 2020 at 11:16 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Governor Northam delivered his State of the Commonwealth address tonight. He highlighted his goals for the 2020 General Assembly session now that Democrats have won control of both the House and Senate.

Northam outlined an ambitious list of changes he hopes to get through. He did not reference his yearbook photo scandal from last year, but his goals include his on-going efforts to help the African American community.

He began by acknowledging the history made today, the election of the first woman Speaker of the House, Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D - Fairfax).

“Tonight, after 400 years, the first women are leading this Joint Assembly. Let’s all congratulate them!” said Northam.

Then he began outlining his goals for the session, including protecting the environment.

“The climate is changing, and sea levels are rising. Just ask the Navy, the shipyard, our friends on Tangier Island,” he said.

He wants to ratify the national Equal Rights Amendment.

“We begin a new era. We spell that … E-R-A,” Northam exclaimed.

Northam proposing investing more money in early childhood education and k-12, and offering free community college tuition to students who perform community service.

He also wants to boost affordable housing, telling the story of Karen Harris, who sat in the gallery and went from 20 years of homelessness to living in her own home.

“You want to know why this affordable housing proposal is so important? Look up there and see the big smile on Ms. Harris’s face,” Northam said.

Northam then spoke about his most controversial goal: passing eight gun control measures.

“Virginians have had enough of the vigils and the funerals, enough of the mourning. They made that clear at the ballot box,” he said.

But Republicans were quick to respond to these proposals.

Said Del. David Sutterlein (R - Roanoke), “Republicans will continue to defend the Constitutional rights of all law-abiding Virginians.”

Added Del. Roxanne Robinson (R-Chesterfield), “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.”

Governor Northam concluded his address with a lesson his mother taught him about equality.

“No matter who we are or where we come from, we are all equal in the beginning and in the end. I’ve thought of that many times since I’ve had this job,” he said.

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