RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia lawmakers are kicking off a 60-day legislative session with Democrats in full control for the first time in more than two decades. Here's a look at some top issues legislators will take up this year:

GUNS

Likely the most prominent debate this year will be on gun control, an area where Democrats have promised significant changes. Some of the new restrictions they want include universal background checks, banning assault weapons and passing a red flag law to allow the temporary removal of guns from someone who is deemed to be dangerous to themselves or others.

Republicans and gun-rights groups have pledged stiff resistance. Gun owners are descending on local government offices to demand that officials establish sanctuaries for gun rights. More than 100 counties, cities and towns have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries and vowed to oppose any new “unconstitutional restrictions” on guns.

EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT

Virginia is poised to become the decisive 38th state to approve the Equal Rights Amendment, a gender equality measure. Amendments are added to the U.S. Constitution if they are approved by three-quarters of state legislatures. The state's anticipated approval of the amendment would put the ERA over that threshold.

But the process is likely to hit some snags. One of the biggest is a measure passed by Congress in 1972, attaching a 1977 ratification deadline to it. That was later extended to 1982.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, is promising sweeping changes to the state’s criminal justice reforms that include decriminalizing marijuana, softening the penalties for people caught stealing smaller-dollar items and reducing the number of Virginians whose driver’s licenses are suspended.

The proposed criminal justice overhaul is also part of Northam’s bigger push to address long-standing racial disparities in a state that was once capital of the Confederacy. The governor has rebounded after nearly being forced from office last year over a scandal involving blackface and has prioritized efforts to promote racial justice in a number of areas.

MINIMUM WAGE

Democrats have pledged to try to more than double the state's minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour. But just how fast they will raise it and what kind of businesses and occupations should be exempt from the new wage floor haven't been worked out.

Business groups have urged lawmakers to tread carefully and not disturb the state's business-friendly image.

CASINOS

Gambling-related issues are set to be one of the hottest topics at the state Capitol when lawmakers return to the Richmond next month to kick off the 2020 legislative session. Lawmakers will decide whether to legalize online sports betting and whether to regulate betting machines that have proliferated in convenience stores in recent years.

But the biggest focus will be on casinos. Virginia is one of only a handful of states that forbid any type of casinos, but it has been inching toward legalizing them in recent years. Lawmakers will decide whether to not only legalize casinos but also set limits on how many the state will have, where they will go and who will run them.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(48) comments

amerigirl

Ace are you really going to take a break from posting lies? I can give reputable sources for everything I post, What are your sources, Fox and Alex Jones? How do you come up with so many wrong remarks? I would love to know.

ace10

Someone in this comment section continues to post lies about the very important topic of 2A rights for law abiding Americans. I implore that they stop. It's one thing to post an opinion, but it's an entirely different thing to post BLATANT LIES. Just this past week, M Bloomberg (D) made the following comment about the recent Texas church shooting: "It may be true that someone in the congregation had his own gun and killed the person who murdered two other people, but it’s the job of law enforcement to have guns and to decide when to shoot. You just do not want the average citizen carrying a gun in a crowded place." This guy would prefer that the shooter have free range access to slaughter church goers, rather than responsible American own a firearm. This is a prominent candidate for POTUS who has poured massive cash into VIRGINIA to push his insane agenda.

amerigirl

And that lying someone is you!

amerigirl

Ace, what attributed quote? Where was that quote sited from? or was it made up?

Comment deleted.
ace10

The lying liar claiming that an attributed quote is a lie? That's comical.

marv

My comments on amerigirl diatribe was written 1-9-20 at 2230, but it did not show up[ on my computer until after 0945 on 1-10-20. Yet there was a vociferous reply from amerigirl timed 0953 on 1-10-20. For some reason it always takes 2 to 4 hours for mine and others to be approved, but never amerigirl????

amerigirl

sometimes they are fast, sometimes slow. I have had ones that never showed up at all.You are very wrong on thinking it differs by person. It differs by when it is written. My guess, they only have 1 person doing the job who doesn't work regular hours

Matthew

The alt left comments rarely get removed even after reporting Marv. The moderator is heavily biased.

ace10

Just post dozens upon dozens of inane comments and then you won't face long delays like the rest of us.

Simon

They actually think people will register their guns. Tried in other states with low compliance. They want you to register so when they go to confiscate they know where they are. People won’t fall for it.

amerigirl

Fall for it? That's crazy, you register your car don't you? What is wrong with registering if you have nothing to hide?

marv

One should engage the brain before putting the mouth in gear. In the history of civilization registration has always been a precursor to confiscation.(IE- Europe, England, Australia, etc.) As Jefferson said,"removing firearms from the honest person will have little affect on those not similarly inclined". Also, those with a CCW are the safest, most law abiding group, BAR NONE, in the nation. Like the old Bumper Sticker put it, "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns".

Segeny

Speaking of "crazy", since apparently you have nothing to hide, how about letting law enforcement come into your home and search through your belongings --- you have nothing to hide, right?

amerigirl

Marv, who is trying to take your guns? NOBODY! So, all that hype is pointless. The only guns even being considered are assault rifles which have been banned before. An ‘honest person’ won’t need to worry. It is those who are an imminent danger to themselves or others that red flag laws would affect temporally. The entire system is screwed up. There is over 1 mass shooting a day and nobody is doing anything about it. Where is our right to life? There also need to change laws saying, all felons can’t have guns. There is no reason for a felon with a non-violent history to not have their right to self-protection.

ace10

Wow. How about taking a break from posting lies?

amerigirl

Segeny, again, that is crazy. How does registering a gun cause law enforcement to enforcement come into your home and search through your belongings? I would have no problem with law enforcement searching my home with a reason or a search warrant

marv

What I fail to understand is how legislators who tale an oath to support and defend the US Constitution and the Virginia State Constitution introduce and vote for bills to become law that are blatantly Unconstitutional. What I do understand is that most all of these Delegates owe their positions to the financial assistance of Mr. Bloomberg and that causes me to question their true loyalty.

amerigirl

What law are they trying to pass that is, in your words, blatantly unconstitutional? Gun control groups donated $1.6 million this year and far outspent gun rights advocates, donated about $600,000. Technically, gun-control donations were higher in 2015; however, the donor behind Everytown for Gun Safety, Michael Bloomberg, also donated $110,000 to the Democratic Party of Virginia and about $600,000 via his Beyond Carbon Action Fund to Democrats who flipped House of Delegate seats in Virginia Beach and Newport News. What makes you think that Bloomberg gave to Loudoun?

amerigirl

How do you feel about the senators and McConnell that are going to take an oath to be impartial jurors but said the will side with the white house lawyer?

workhardgetahead

Just like Chucky Schmucky Schumer and the rest of the dems in the Clinton impeachment

Hypocrite!!!

Jeanne T

You're off topic.

amerigirl

Jeanne not off topic, response to the comment from Marv about constitutional issues with elected officials. When indented it is a response.

scottva

"softening the penalties for people caught stealing smaller-dollar items". This is doing wonders in California. The people that voted for these lunatics should be jailed. I got nothing else to say, what can be said with what these dirt bags want to do. I know "vote them out", yeah well we tried but turns out there are more kooks in Virginia than not and they won. I really hope and pray that the Democrat voters find themselves bit in the butt extremely hard when crap like this that's proposed gets passed an impacts their life.

amerigirl

They wouldn't need these changes if the repubs hadn't already found themselves bit in the butt. Don't you wonder why you would think that the majority are kooks? and maybe it's people like you?

Jeanne T

Kooks??

Segeny

Dummycrats obviously don't read what is going on in CA --- thieves filling up bags in stores and using a calculator to ensure that they don't go above the legal-stealing limit. Morons is too generous a word to use when describing posters like Commiegirl who is clearly no American.

hardworkingamerican

If you look at the 2018 statistics only 14,801 gun deaths from gunviolencearchives.org. The most common death is suicide, which interestingly enough is not included in the main data, wonder why? Because the Democrats are harming our very way of life, but of course no one wants to look at the real issue. I just got off the phone with the Governor's office and of course they are clueless and don't worry his protection detail will not be targeted like the rest of us. Look at Jennifer Wexton proposing a bill to steal your credit card information if you purchase a gun. What about legislation in Virginia to stop MS-13? Oh of course not the Democrats they want to open up Virginia to anyone and then strip us of our ability to protect ourselves. Not sure why people voted for these insane Democrats but it is time to take back Virginia. Get out and vote in 2020 and the first opportunity you have make Dick Black proud and give the Virginia Conservatives a super majority in the Virginia legislation. Take back Virginia!

amerigirl

What stats are you looking at? Everything I saw listed suicide ans the percent increase from other years. Reed flag laws may have prevented many of those deaths. Sure blame dems for your inability to read the data, Just like you can't read laws. There is nothing saying that anyone is going to take your credit card info, you think your scare tactics will work? The only info they would get would be suspicious activity. This process already happens for other reasons. How would you lose your ability to protect yourself? That has been proven to you in other comments under different articles. But still you persist with the conspiracy theories. We already took back VA, get over it, the majority rules. Dick Black was about as sick a puppy as one can be. He thought you should be able to carry shoulder grenades into Dulles. Would you want to be an a plane with that going on? He didn't have a problem with spousal rape, and called military rape 'as predictable as human nature.'

marv

amerigirl - please tell us just how "Red Flag Laws" are Constitutional and while you are fabricating explain why criminals will obey gun laws. Also, if you want to falsely castigate someone don't pick a combat wounded war hero. Semper fi

amerigirl

Marv, why would red flag laws be unconstitutional? They take guns from those who are an imminent threat, which they can get back when that threat is no longer perceived, I really think you will admit that anyone who is proven to be a threat to themselves or others should not have a weapon. There is nothing saying that you can own any or all types of arms, that is a matter of public safety. Who am I falsely castigating? These remarks about Dick Black are facts, and I even left out the dealings in April 2014 with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, letters and trips to see him, or his appearances on Russia Today. His remarks about the right to carry arms, even shoulder grenade launchers made all the local news. His remark on marital rape has been illegal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia since 1993, in 2002 to his fellow assemblymen, “How on earth you could validly get a conviction of a husband-wife rape when they’re living together, sleeping in the same bed, she’s in a nightie, and so forth, there’s no injury, there’s no separation or anything.” He spoke frequently to media outlets about sexual assault in the military, and called military rape “as predictable as human nature.” “Think of yourself at 25,” Black told a newspaper in 1996. “Wouldn’t you love to have a group of 19-year-old girls under your control, day in, day out?”

That is SICK! and he was in JAG?

Locojrt

If you deserve to have your license revoked by law, then so be it. Are we going to put even MORE bad drivers on the road because they happen to he "minorities"! Good grief, bad driving is color blind. Just more PC nonsense instead of adhering to the laws.

amerigirl

What are you talking about? I didn't see anything about that. Do you think that being a minority makes you a bad driver?

BobOhneiserEsq

Western Sky. Your right on with "husband" rights which can't be zero even if not equal! Help me find a case which has "advancement and injunction potential" and we can take it to the Supreme Court.

Ellie Lockwood

Is the LAST women who should be pushing to resurrect the ERA. In the space of just a few months she “evolved” from #BelieveAllWomen and #MeToo to ensuring the Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax never had to face up to completely credible charges made by not one, but two women who suffered rape and sexual assault by Fairfax. Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson, both educated black women active in the Democrat party, are more than entitled to bring their charges to Richmond and it’s only due to the smoky back room dealings organized by Filler-Corn that they have been denied the opportunity.

Filler-Corn, and the Democrat Party have made a huge hypocrisy of being for fairness for women having abandoned their own in this case. Before any movement is made to resurrect the ERA, these women more than deserve the change for justice.

LetsBreal

I thought I was voting for people to manage the legitimate functions of government at the state level. What a silly thought that was! This batch looks like the morality police banning, subsidizing and redistributing income to whatever causes their "team" wants. Looks like we're getting ready to play cowboys and democrats. Hint to liberals/progressives or whatever you call yourselves: your laws, statutes and resolutions do not override the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Chris McHale

All interesting topics some of which I agree with and some I don't. But I do agree that monuments is not a priority and happy it wasn't listed. For the record, I don't care if they stay or they're removed, but please don't use tax dollars one way or the other.

amerigirl

Doesn't the upkeep use tax dollars?

Count Quackula

Can’t wait to see if I become a felon when I don’t turn in or register my mini-14 with two 40 round clips.

amerigirl

me either

Jeanne T

LOL. You won't be a felon, I'm sure.

WesternSky

Equal Rights Amendment should severely affect abortion laws today -- and the father should have equal rights regarding the decision to terminate the pregnancy. In my opinion.

RandomName2019

Pretty sure a father gets equal rights regarding abortion when he can carry a baby to term. Until then, he's just a sperm donor.

workhardgetahead

I agree, the libs dont know what they are getting ready to stir.

marv

From your remarks - It is obvious that you have never been pregnant. Women are not chattel.

amerigirl

Can I ask who you are directing this to?

amerigirl

What about rape?

Jeanne T

Rapists should be put to death. So should all pedophiles (who are rapists), and those who engage in human trafficking. What do you think of that?

amerigirl

Jeanne. I agree that there is no just punishment for those who commit such heinous crimes, But should the father of a rape victim have parental or any custodial rights?

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