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Gov. Northam emphasizes Democratic priorities, diversity

Courtesy Photo/Ryan Persaud
In an address Monday night to members of the General Assembly, newly inaugurated governor Ralph Northam (D) outlined his vision for the legislative session, calling on lawmakers to expand Medicaid, protect abortion rights, increase funding for education and pass gun control measures.

“If we take these steps, we will answer the charge our voters gave us to make Virginia work better for everyone – no matter who they are or where they are from,” Northam said.

The governor called attention to the diversity of his cabinet – which contains more women than men – and to the growing diversity of the House and Senate. Twelve women were elected to the House last fall.

“This cabinet is led by women,” Northam said. “And like this new General Assembly, it is also one of the most diverse in our history … When people say, ‘We can’t find enough women or enough diverse candidates for leadership roles,’ I say — you’re not looking hard enough.”

Northam also touched on expanding voting rights, such as no-excuse absentee voting, restoring the voting rights of felons who have served their time and raising the threshold for felony larceny.

“There is no excuse for the criminal act of theft,” Northam said. “But a teenager who steals one used iPhone or a pair of boots should not have her entire life defined by that one mistake.”

Democratic issues – such as Medicare expansion, abortion rights and gun control – were met with applause and standing ovations by Democrats, while Republicans largely remained seated and silent during the address.

Despite focusing on partisan issues for most of his speech, Northam cited the need for bipartisanship and for both parties to work together.

“Bipartisanship has been the watchword of the first few days of this session,” Northam said. “For that I am thankful.”

The Republican response to Northam’s address was delivered by newly elected Del. Emily Brewer of Suffolk and Sen. Glen Sturtevant of Chesterfield.

They emphasized the GOP’s priorities of crafting a balanced budget, fixing what they see as a broken health-care system, and improving education in the state.

“Virginia Republicans are committed to a cooperative and collaborative approach to considering legislation and passing a responsible budget,” Sturtevant said. “We will continue our long-standing emphasis on fiscally responsible, conservative budgeting, looking for cost savings and efficiencies to ensure your family gets the greatest possible value out of every tax dollar you send to Richmond.”

Brewer highlighted the need to deliver practical economic solutions to meet citizens’ needs.

“From measures that will protect and provide for the women and men who serve in law enforcement, to long-overdue changes that will grant family leave to state employees who adopt a child,” Brewer said, “we will be advancing changes that will make the commonwealth an even better place to live, to work and to raise a family.”

Comments


I guess we can put Northam’s nonsense to bed for another year!


Levrier - Excellent research.  Thank you !


Here are some specific stats for Virginia (2016) from the CDC:

353 assaults with firearm leading to death
11 legal intervention uses of firearm (self-defense)
671 suicides (There were 492 more that didn’t use a firearm)

237 Motor vehicle accident fatalities
  381 if you include cars striking cyclists and pedestrians

And to highlight a growing problem (priority?) in our state:

837 people accidentally overdosed on opioids.


With all of the statistics being thrown around, how many of those gun deaths are in self defense. Just something that needs to be considered.


Lévrier, that may be true nationwide but we were talking about Virginia. In VA there were 890 deaths by automobile accidents, and 1057 by guns. That is according to Virginia dept. of Health, suicides are deaths and if people with severe depression didn’t have access to guns, a quick way to do it, they may think twice. Mental health should play a role in the decision making when it comes to gun laws. I must agree there should be a national data base. It would make life much easier for cops.
By the way gun deaths have surpassed auto deaths in VA for 2017 also, not all reports are in yet.


@ amerigirl:  The “breeze” to which you refer regarding obtaining a CCW goes a little beyond simply being 21 and having a photo ID.  In Loudoun, for instance, you must take a gun safety class, prove you passed it, fill out yet another background check, pay a fee, and submit all of that information to the clerk of court for approval from a judge, then wait up to 45 days to get the permit if you are approved. 

After that, it is the permit holder’s responsibility to abide by the laws set forth by the state which determines where and when you can carry a firearm.  Not sure what having a loaded firearm in a car has to do with the argument, but it’s pointless to carry an unloaded firearm if you have a permit.  That’s referred to as an expensive “hammer.”

I’d like to see your data which supports your statement that out of state crimes are committed using guns purchased legally in Virginia, where the purchase can be traced to a legal gun sale by a Virginia resident, rather than a drug related crime committed by a felon using a stolen firearm.  I’ve been to plenty of gun shows, and I’ve yet to see a line of out of state felons waiting to purchase firearms from attendees privately making a sale.  Like I said, the seller has the right to request a background check, it costs all of $2.00, and those you mentioned are not the kind of people who typically go to a gun show to make a sale knowing the gun will leave the state and be involved in a crime. 

Responsible gun owners, especially those with children in the home, should keep their firearms locked up when not in use.  Those are also the people who know the basic rules of handling and storing firearms.  When you read about negligent discharges and accidental shootings, it’s always the gun owner’s fault and never that of the gun, which can’t in any way discharge itself.  Rigorous training and practice of safety measures are always the responsibilities of the gun owner.  Unfortunately, it’s those who fail to do so create headlines, and I agree, one headline is one too many.  As previously stated, a safety class prior to the purchase of a firearm would not only be a great idea, but it would weed out many of the “nutjobs” who would be less than willing to take the class, especially for some of the fees the classes require.


@amerigirl

Actually there are more recent stats for both car accidents and gun deaths (2016).  According to NHSTA, in 2016 37,461 people died in vehicular accidents in the United States.

The CDC’s “Wonder” database shows that in 2016, firearm deaths from both suicides and assaults (ICD-10 codes x72, x73, x74, x93, x94 & x95) was 37,353. 

So in 2016, more people died due to car accidents than guns. If you remove suicides, the fatality number drops to 14,415, highlighting the sad fact that over 60% of gun fatalities are suicides.

To put that in perspective, more than twice as many people accidentally fell to their deaths than were killed by an assailant with a gun.

Also, gun owners need to be aware (and most are not) that in order for a law requiring background checks on private sales of firearms to work, _all_ firearms and their owners would need to be registered in a government database.  The more gun owners know about what will be required, the lower the approval rate will be for universal background checks.


Virginia SGP , where are the facts? What masses of huge of unskilled people? If we get all those highly skilled workers it will take positions from our high skilled worker and lower the pay rate in their fields. Should we give up the great jobs or let immigrants take over the lower paying ones that many don’t want to do?
How are schools flooded with illegals when you need birth certificate to register? If their parents are working then they are paying taxes, which support the school system. Because you take ESL does NOT mean you are illegal, it means that is the language spoken in your home.
In the entire US Medical costs specifically for uninsured individuals are estimated at $4.3 billion per year. That is all uninsured, like the many citizens in rural Virginia where Medicaid expansion would be a life saver. The unnecessary cost we really need to worry about Trumps golf course visits, averaging $16,333,333.33 per month, $147 million in the first 9 months, and that is just for his pleasure, not a sickness. “A trip to Mar-a-Lago costs taxpayers approximately $3.6 million, according to a Government Accountability Office report,” and where do you think he will spend the winter?


@ Loudoun 1965, Virginia law still does not require unlicensed sellers and transferals to seek background checks before the sale or transfer of a gun at a gun show. Virginia law also says firearms these checks are not required in places depending of the towns population. Part of the problem is that a seller has no way of knowing if the buyer is a “violent offender” or a “nutcase.” That really should be changed, a seller needs to be responsible for who is handing over a gun to. There is no background check required in Virginia for internet gun sales, yet almost 4000 sites that facilitate gun sales like Armslist.com. Think about it 86 percent of Virginians supportive of legislation that would require background checks for all gun sales.  In 2013, the most recent year for which data are available, gun deaths were 17 % higher than car accident deaths. If current trends continue, the number of gun deaths in Virginia will be 24 percent higher than the number of car accident deaths by the end of this assembly’s term in 2017 and 31 percent higher by the end of the next Senate’s term in 2019.
Ending the one gun every 30 days was stupid. Many of those guns go out of state to New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Virginia is one of the top source states for guns recovered in crimes in other states. Why are we their supplier, because of our lax gun laws. Part of that is because no state permit is required to purchase or possess a rifle, shotgun or handgun.
Another stupid move was allowing guns in bars, who could imagine a problem arising there? Not to mention that with a conceal carry permit you can have a loaded gun in your car. That’s a breeze to get, be 21, and have a photo ID.
Saying Accidental shootings have nothing to do with gun legislation is not totally true. If there were stricter gun laws there would be less guns for nutcases to have. Virginia law also does not require firearm owners to lock their weapons
You also said the actions of irresponsible citizens do not speak for the majority in this case. They do speak for the cause, one child’s life lost is one too many


Democrats have the worst priority list. They always place the items which have ZERO chance of getting through the system at the top of the list.

They should start with practical things that will pass and even get bipartisan support first, then leave the log jam, chest thumping, crap for the last days of the assembly session.


It’s a shame VA doesn’t have laws against cell phone/texting use while driving…Oh wait they do. I just never see it being enforced. Would be nice if northern VA schools received more of our tax money too.


The biggest danger to the Democrat constituencies is ... Ralph Northam and his Democrat allies.

They focus on open borders allowing masses of unskilled workers with large families illegally enter the country and Virginia.  What does that cause?

1. Downward pressure on wages.  An oversupply of unskilled workers effects the wages of every unskilled/low-skilled job.  When you shrink that pool, workers become more scarce and wages will rise.

2. As wages fall, minority citizens have fewer opportunities and are more likely to turn to crime.  This is especially true for native-born, lower SES citizens who bear the brunt of the lower wages.  And it is the lower SES citizens who often fall prey to the violent crime brought in from Latin America as we saw just last year.

3. Schools are flooded with illegal immigrants who cost $$$$ to educate.  Mind you, these floods don’t occur in the tony neighborhoods of South Riding or Ashburn but in the more impoverished parts of Sterling, Manassas (48% ESL), Prince William (26% ESL), Winchester (26% ESL) or even FFX (29% ESL).  Many of those schools barely have the resources to educate native-born, disadvantaged students much less the flood of illegals.  It is not the affluent Democrats standing to applaud Northam who suffer but their unwitting voters who put them there.

4. Our medical system is besieged by the 11M+ illegals who show up in emergency rooms for uncompensated care.  This crowds out the care that should be delivered to the disadvantaged, native-born population.

Make no mistake, these newly elected politicians want to drastically raise taxes.  What does that mean for citizens NOVA, who pay a drastically higher % of the overall Virginia taxes than their population or services received would indicate?  It means you are about to send a lot more subsidies to other parts of the state while our transportation and other needs go unmet.  It means fewer businesses will relocate to Virginia as they too get slapped with new taxes.  And it means more regulations to throttle growth.


@ amerigirl:  Define “common sense gun reform.”  In Virginia, you need to complete a background check through the Va State Police when you purchase a firearm from a gun shop, Walmart, gun show, or any vendor who legally sells firearms.  If you purchase a firearm from a private citizen, the seller has the right to have you submit ID and go to the Va State Police to complete a background check before selling it.  That seller has no way of knowing if the buyer is a “violent offender” or a “nutcase.”  If the seller suspects that the buyer fits either of these categories, he or she has the right to refuse the purchase.  There is no current law which requires a private seller/buyer to complete either an ID check or a background check, but how would that be possible?  Make it illegal to sell your own firearm to someone you know?  Make it illegal to pass an heirloom which happens to be a firearm on to a family member?  It is a challenge to regulate a private sale, but most crimes committed using a firearm when drugs are involved also involve an illegally purchased or stolen firearm. Then there are the felons who have their status dropped in order to become eligible to vote by certain policy makers, which also makes them eligible to purchase firearms legally.

But more to your point, The NRA sponsors more gun safety classes than any other organization.  Accidental shootings have nothing to do with gun legislation; it has everything to do with irresponsible gun owners.  In a perfect world, every person who wants to purchase a firearm should be required to take and pass an gun safety course much like the ones required to obtain a hunting license, a CCW, or driver’s license, but the Second Amendment does not have that stipulation for citizens to own firearms.  The argument always comes back to drivers licensing as a comparison.  Check the stats on accidental gun deaths vs. car accidents resulting in death.

We have common sense gun purchase regulations in Virginia.  The majority of gun owners practice safe gun handling and many of those have taken classes in order to keep it that way.  The actions of irresponsible citizens do not speak for the majority in this case.


Why can’t VA do common sense gun reform? Our country has more mass murders than days in a year. Too many accidental shooting, too many kids and innocent people hurt and killed.
The NRA uses the scare tactic of saying that the government is trying to take your guns away, don’t fall for it. No one is trying to do that unless you should have it taken away, such as violent offenders and nutcases.


“Despite focusing on partisan issues for most of his speech, Northam cited the need for bipartisanship and for both parties to work together.”

I guess at some point someone reminded him that he did not have the necessary partisan votes to push through these partisan issues.

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