Ralph Northam

When Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam looks back at his tenure, the inflection point between being a run-of-the-mill executive and the progressive leader he has become is a painful one.

The scandal — born of the discovery of a decades-old yearbook photo that featured someone in blackface — was an existential crisis for Northam and his administration. After initially saying the person in question was him, he denied it but admitted to darkening his skin as part of a Michael Jackson dance contest in 1984. Almost every Virginia Democrat called for his ouster as the state examined its racist past. Those closest to Northam said he was close to resigning.

How the governor survived was a surprise even to his most ardent supporters. The man who was nearly thrown out of office by his own party has, in the two years since, become a progressive champion, working with the same Democrats who called for his resignation to tighten gun laws in the commonwealth, restore the voting rights to nearly 70,000 felons, approve voting rights legislation and abolish the death penalty in the state. And just this week Northam signed legislation that would legalize marijuana this summer, the first Southern state to do so.

Current Position: Governor since 2018
Affiliation: Democrat
Former Position(s): Lt. Governor from 2014 – 2018; State Senator from 2008 – 2014

Governor Ralph Northam addresses the Virginia House of Delegates, January 20, 2020. 

“Governor Northam approaches public service with the same passion he brought to his military and medical service. He is committed to working with leaders from both parties to build a Virginia that works better for every family, no matter who they are or where they live.”

Featured video: Annual address to Virginia senators, delegates and supreme court justices on Jan. 8, 2020 in the Richmond State Capitol building. Content from the original Virginia House of Delegates recording has not been edited in any way.

Source: Government page

2020 State of the Commonwealth Address

Who: Governor Ralph Northam
What: Annual address to Virginia senators, delegates, and supreme court justices
When: Jan. 8, 2020 – 7 to 8 pm (EST)
Where: Richmond State Capitol

Content from the original Virginia House of Delegates recording has not been edited in any way.

To view Governor Northam’s 2019 State of the Commonwealth Address, go this post. This post also has a transcript of the Governor’s address and articles about the address. Go to Ralph Northam’s post to learn more about the Governor.

https://vimeo.com/384863950 

2019 State of the Commonwealth Address

Who:  Governor Ralph Northam

When:  Jan. 8,, 2019 

Where:  Richmond State Capitol

What:  Annual address to Virginia senators, delegates, and supreme court justices

How long:  59:42

Governor of Virginia 1Governor of Virginia

Duties

Source: Wikipedia

The governor is the head of government in Virginia. At the beginning of every regular session, they must report the state of the Commonwealth to the Virginia General Assembly (both the House of Delegates and the Senate). They must convene the legislature when two-thirds of each house calls for a special session. The governor must ensure that the laws of the Commonwealth are faithfully executed by either signing, or allowing it to come into law, or vetoing, not allowing it to become law. They are responsible for the safety of the state, as they serve as commander-in-chief of the Virginia Militia.

 

Powers

Source: Wikipedia

  • The governor has the legislative power to submit recommendations and to call special sessions when he finds them necessary.
  • The governor has veto powers. All bills must be sent to the governor before becoming law. The governor may sign the bill, let it sit unsigned for seven days, after which it becomes law, or veto the legislation. After a veto, the bill returns to its house of origin and may be overridden by two-thirds of the vote in each house.
  • The governor also has the power to use a line-item veto. He may send legislation back to the legislature with recommendations and amendments. The legislature must either approve the changes by a majority in each house or override the veto with a two-thirds majority in each house.
  • The governor is commander-in-chief of Virginia’s militia forces.
  • The governor may also communicate with other states and foreign powers.
  • The governor has the power to fill vacancies in positions unless the position is appointed by the legislature.
  • The governor may commute fines or sentences and issue pardons. The governor may also restore voting rights and overturn other political penalties on individuals.

History

The position of Governor of Virginia dates back to the 1607 first permanent English settlement in America, at Jamestown on the north shore of the James River upstream from Hampton Roads harbor at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. The Virginia Company of London set up a government run by a council. The president of the council basically served as a governor. The council was based in London and controlled the colony from afar. Nominally, Thomas Smith was the first president of the council, but he never left England. Edward Maria Wingfield was the first president of the council in residence in the new province, making him the first to exercise the actual authority of governing Virginia. The Virginia Company soon abandoned governance by council two years after the landing on May 23, 1609, and replacing it with a governor, the famous and dynamic leader, John Smith (1580-1631).

In 1624, the English Monarchy of King James I (1566-1625, reigned 1603-1625), in the last year of his reign, of the royal House of Stuart took control from the Virginia Company and its stockholders and made Virginia a crown colony. Governors continued to be appointed by the monarch for many years. Most often, the appointed governor would reside in England while a deputy or lieutenant governor actually exercised authority. Royal rule was interrupted during the English Civil War (1642-46 / 1648-49), after which governors were appointed by the Protectorate under Richard Cromwell (successor to Oliver Cromwell) in the interim Commonwealth of England until the English Restoration of the monarchy with King Charles II in 1660.

Commonwealth

Virginia became an independent sovereign state and Commonwealth during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), with Patrick Henry(1736-1799, served 1776-79 / 1786-89) as its first governor (and also later sixth). From the Revolution until 1851, the governor was elected by the General Assembly of Virginia (commonwealth/state legislature). After 1851, in a democratic trend spreading across the Union, the state turned to popular elections for office holders.

During the American Civil War (1861-1865), Francis Harrison Pierpont was the governor of the Union-controlled parts of the state, later of which emerged the new state in the northwest of West Virginia. Pierpont also served as one of the provisional governors during the post-war Reconstruction era. These governors were appointed by the Federal government of the President and U.S. Congress, both controlled by Radical Republicans for a decade. In 1874, Virginia regained its right to self-governance and elected James L. Kemper (1823-1895), a Democrat and temporary Conservative Party member and former Confederate general as governor. After the Radical Republican appointees of the post-war Reconstruction era, Virginia would not actually elect another regular Republican as governor until A. Linwood Holton Jr. in 1969. However, in 1881 William E. Cameron was elected governor under the banner of the Readjuster Party, a coalition of Republicans and populist Democrats. Douglas Wilder became the first elected and only the second African American Governor of any U.S. state. He served as governor from 1990 to 1994.

Since 1851, Virginia’s gubernatorial elections have been held in “off-years”—years in which there are no national (presidential, senatorial, or House) elections; Virginia’s gubernatorial elections are held one year after U.S. presidential elections (2001, 2005, 2009, etc.) (Most states hold gubernatorial elections either on presidential-election years or midterm-election years, when there are congressional elections.) In every Virginia gubernatorial election starting with 1977, the governor elected had been from the opposite party as the president elected by the nation in the previous year, even when Virginia had voted for the president in office, as with Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. The only exception being in 2013 with the election of Democrat Terry McAuliffe, following the re-election of President Obama in 2012.

Tim Kaine was inaugurated on January 14, 2006. Due to renovations on the Capitol in Richmond, his inauguration was held in Williamsburg, making him the first governor to be inaugurated in Williamsburg since Thomas Jefferson in 1779. The current governor of Virginia is Ralph Northam, who was inaugurated on January 13, 2018.

Former Governors

PictureGovernorTook officeLeft officeLieutenant GovernorPartyNotes
1Patrick henry.JPGPatrick HenryJuly 5, 1776June 1, 1779Office vacant1776-1852NoneFirst under 1776 Constitution
(limit of 3 one-year terms)
2T Jefferson by Charles Willson Peale 1791 2.jpgThomas JeffersonJune 1, 1779June 3, 1781None3rd President of the United States
3No image.svgWilliam FlemingJune 3, 1781June 12, 1781None
4Thomas Nelson (1700s).jpgThomas Nelson, Jr.June 12, 1781November 22, 1781None
No image.svgDavid JamesonNovember 22, 1781December 1, 1781NoneActing Governor
(member of Council of State)
5Benharrv.JPGBenjamin Harrison VDecember 1, 1781December 1, 1784None
6Patrick henry.JPGPatrick HenryDecember 1, 1784December 1, 1786NoneRe-elected after 5-year hiatus
(1 more than constitutional minimum)
7EdmundRandolph.jpegEdmund RandolphDecember 1, 1786December 1, 1788NoneFirst under U.S. statehood
8No image.svgBeverley RandolphDecember 1, 1788December 1, 1791None
9HenryLee.jpegHenry Lee IIIDecember 1, 1791December 1, 1794Federalist
10Robert Brooke Virginia Governor.jpgRobert BrookeDecember 1, 1794December 1, 1796Democratic-Republican
11No image.svgJames WoodDecember 1, 1796December 1, 1799Federalist
No image.svgHardin BurnleyDecember 7, 1799December 11, 1799
No image.svgJohn Pendleton, Jr.December 11, 1799December 19, 1799
12James Monroe (1758-1831).jpgJames MonroeDecember 19, 1799December 1, 1802Democratic-RepublicanU.S. Senator 1790–1794, fifth President of the United States
13John Page Rosewell Gloucester County Virginia.jpgJohn PageDecember 1, 1802December 7, 1805Democratic-Republican
14William Cabell.gifWilliam H. CabellDecember 7, 1805December 1, 1808Democratic-Republican
15John Tyler Sr.jpgJohn Tyler, Sr.December 1, 1808January 15, 1811Democratic-Republican
GeorgeWillSmith.jpgGeorge William SmithJanuary 15, 1811January 19, 1811Democratic-RepublicanActing Governor
(member of Council of State)
16James Monroe (1758-1831).jpgJames MonroeJanuary 19, 1811April 3, 1811Democratic-RepublicanU.S. Senator 1790–94, Fifth President of the United States
17GeorgeWillSmith.jpgGeorge William SmithApril 3, 1811December 26, 1811Democratic-RepublicanActing Governor
(member of Council of State)
Later elected in his own right
Died in office
N/APeyton Randolph Virginia Governor.jpgPeyton RandolphDecember 27, 1811January 3, 1812Democratic-RepublicanActing Governor
(member of Council of State)
18BarbourT.jpgJames BarbourJanuary 3, 1812December 1, 1814Democratic-RepublicanU.S. Senator 1815–1825
19Wilson Cary Nicholas 2.jpgWilson Cary NicholasDecember 1, 1814December 1, 1816Democratic-Republican
20James Patton Preston.jpgJames Patton PrestonDecember 1, 1816December 1, 1819Democratic-Republican
21Thomas Mann Randolph.jpgThomas Mann Randolph, Jr.December 1, 1819December 1, 1822Democratic-Republican
22James Pleasants bioguide.jpgJames PleasantsDecember 1, 1822December 10, 1825Democratic-RepublicanResigned U.S. Senate to assume Governorship
23Tyler Daguerreotype crop (restoration).jpgJohn TylerDecember 10, 1825March 4, 1827Democratic-RepublicanResigned to enter U.S. Senate 1827–1836, 10th United States President
24William Branch Giles.jpgWilliam Branch GilesMarch 4, 1827March 4, 1830DemocraticU.S. Senator 1804–1815
25John Floyd.jpgJohn FloydMarch 4, 1830March 31, 1834DemocraticFirst under 1830 constitution
(limit of 1 four-year term)
26LWTzw.jpgLittleton Waller TazewellMarch 31, 1834April 30, 1836DemocraticU.S. Senator 1824–1832
Wyndhamrobertsonportrait.jpgWyndham RobertsonApril 30, 1836March 31, 1837WhigActing Governor
(member of Council of State)
27David Campbell.jpgDavid CampbellMarch 31, 1837March 31, 1840Democratic
28Thomas Gilmer newer.jpegThomas Walker GilmerMarch 31, 1840March 20, 1841Whig
John Mercer Patton.jpgJohn M. PattonMarch 20, 1841March 31, 1841WhigActing Governor
(member of Council of State)
John Rutherford Virginia Governor.jpgJohn RutherfoordMarch 31, 1841March 31, 1842DemocraticActing Governor
(member of Council of State)
John Munford Gregory.jpgJohn Munford GregoryMarch 31, 1842January 1, 1843WhigActing Governor
(member of Council of State)
29James McDowell.jpgJames McDowellJanuary 1, 1843January 1, 1846Democratic
30Hon. Smith - NARA - 528722.jpgWilliam SmithJanuary 1, 1846January 1, 1849Democratic
31John Buchanan Floyd.jpgJohn B. FloydJanuary 1, 1849January 16, 1852DemocraticU.S. Secretary of War 1857–60
32Joseph Johnson.pngJoseph JohnsonJanuary 16, 1852January 1, 1856Shelton LeakeDemocraticFirst under 1851 constitution
(limit of 1 four-year term)
First popularly elected governor
33HAWise.jpgHenry A. WiseJanuary 1, 1856January 1, 1860Elisha W. McComas
William Lowther Jackson
Democratic
34JohnLetcher.jpgJohn LetcherJanuary 1, 1860January 1, 1864Robert Latane MontagueDemocratic(On June 20, 1863, the new U.S. state of West Virginia was formed)
35Extra Billy Smith-Virginia.jpgWilliam SmithJanuary 1, 1864May 9, 1865Samuel PriceDemocratic
Francis Pierpont portrait.gifFrancis Harrison PierpontMay 15, 1861April 4, 1868NoneRepublicanElected by May 1861 Wheeling Convention. Reelected by June 1861 Wheeling Convention with recognition by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. Elected by Restored General Assembly (Union)
Henry Wells.jpgHenry H. WellsApril 4, 1868September 21, 1869NoneRepublicanAppointed Governor by U.S. military
36Gilbert Carlton Walker.gifGilbert Carlton WalkerSeptember 21, 1869January 1, 1874John F. Lewis
John Lawrence Marye, Jr.
RepublicanAppointed Governor by U.S. military
then elected as a Republican Governor
later served as a Democratic Congressman
37James L Kemper.jpgJames L. KemperJanuary 1, 1874January 1, 1878Robert E. Withers
Henry Wirtz Thomas
Democratic
38Frederick Holliday.jpgFrederick W. M. HollidayJanuary 1, 1878January 1, 1882James A. WalkerDemocratic
39WE Cameron.jpgWilliam E. CameronJanuary 1, 1882January 1, 1886John F. LewisRe-adjuster
40Fitzhugh Lee Governor.jpgFitzhugh LeeJanuary 1, 1886January 1, 1890John E. MasseyDemocratic
41Philip McKinney.jpgPhilip W. McKinneyJanuary 1, 1890January 1, 1894James H. TylerDemocratic
42Charles O'Ferrall.jpgCharles Triplett O’FerrallJanuary 1, 1894January 1, 1898Robert C. KentDemocraticResigned U. S. House seat to assume Governorship
43James Hoge Tyler.jpgJames Hoge TylerJanuary 1, 1898January 1, 1902Edward EcholsDemocratic
44Andrew J. Montague.jpgAndrew Jackson MontagueJanuary 1, 1902February 1, 1906Joseph Edward WillardDemocratic
45CASwanson.jpgClaude A. SwansonFebruary 1, 1906February 10, 1910James T. EllysonDemocraticU.S. Senator 1910–33
46William Hodges Mann, ca. 1914.jpgWilliam Hodges MannFebruary 10, 1910February 1, 1914James T. EllysonDemocratic
47H.C. Stuart.jpgHenry Carter StuartFebruary 1, 1914February 1, 1918James T. EllysonDemocratic
48Governorwestmdavis.jpgWestmoreland DavisFebruary 1, 1918February 1, 1922Benjamin F. BuchananDemocratic
49GovTrinkle.jpgElbert Lee TrinkleFebruary 1, 1922February 1, 1926Junius E. WestDemocratic
50Harry F. Byrd.jpgHarry F. ByrdFebruary 1, 1926January 15, 1930Junius E. WestDemocraticU.S. Senator 1933–65
51JGPollard.jpgJohn Garland PollardJanuary 15, 1930January 17, 1934James H. PriceDemocratic
52GeorgeCPeery.jpgGeorge C. PeeryJanuary 17, 1934January 15, 1938James H. PriceDemocratic
53JamesHPrice.jpgJames H. PriceJanuary 15, 1938January 21, 1942Saxon W. HoltDemocratic
54Colgate W. Darden (Virginia Governor).jpgColgate DardenJanuary 21, 1942January 16, 1946William M. TuckDemocratic
55William M. Tuck.jpgWilliam M. TuckJanuary 16, 1946January 18, 1950Lewis Preston Collins IIDemocratic
56John S. Battle.jpgJohn S. BattleJanuary 18, 1950January 20, 1954Lewis Preston Collins II
Allie Edward Stakes Stephens
Democratic
57Thomas Bahnson Stanley.jpgThomas B. StanleyJanuary 20, 1954January 11, 1958Allie Edward Stakes StephensDemocratic
58James Lindsay Almond - circa 1945 to 1949 - US House of Representatives.jpgJ. Lindsay AlmondJanuary 11, 1958January 13, 1962Allie Edward Stakes StephensDemocratic
59Albertis Harrison 1962.jpgAlbertis HarrisonJanuary 13, 1962January 15, 1966Mills GodwinDemocratic
60Mills Godwin 1966.jpgMills GodwinJanuary 15, 1966January 17, 1970Fred G. PollardDemocratic
61Linwood Holton 1970.jpgLinwood HoltonJanuary 17, 1970January 12, 1974J. Sargeant Reynolds (Democratic)
Henry Howell (Democratic)
Republican
62Mills Godwin 1974.jpgMills GodwinJanuary 12, 1974January 14, 1978John N. DaltonRepublican
63John Dalton 1976.jpgJohn DaltonJanuary 14, 1978January 16, 1982Chuck Robb (Democratic)Republican
64Charles Robb 1980.jpgChuck RobbJanuary 16, 1982January 18, 1986Dick DavisDemocraticU.S. Senator 1989–2001
65Gerald Baliles 1986.jpgGerald BalilesJanuary 18, 1986January 13, 1990Douglas WilderDemocratic
66D.Wilder S.Senate poster (cropped).jpgDouglas WilderJanuary 13, 1990January 15, 1994Don BeyerDemocraticFirst African-American governor elected in American history
67George Allen.jpgGeorge AllenJanuary 15, 1994January 17, 1998Don Beyer (Democratic)RepublicanU.S. Senator 2001–2007
68Jim Gilmore 2004 NSTAC crop.jpgJim GilmoreJanuary 17, 1998January 12, 2002John H. HagerRepublican
69Governor Warner (cropped).jpgMark WarnerJanuary 12, 2002January 14, 2006Tim KaineDemocraticU.S. Senator 2009–present
70Gov. Tim Kaine (cropped).jpgTim KaineJanuary 14, 2006January 16, 2010Bill Bolling (Republican)DemocraticFirst Catholic Governor, U.S. Senator 2013–present, nominee for Vice President of the United States in 2016
71Bob McDonnell by Gage Skidmore.jpgBob McDonnellJanuary 16, 2010January 11, 2014Bill BollingRepublican
72Virginia Governor Democrats Terry McAuliffe 095 (cropped).jpgTerry McAuliffeJanuary 11, 2014January 13, 2018Ralph NorthamDemocratic
73Governor Ralph Northam Gives Inaugural Address (39348612584) (cropped).jpgRalph NorthamJanuary 13, 2018IncumbentJustin FairfaxDemocratic

Living former Governors

X
Ralph NorthamRalph Northam

Current Position: Governor since 2018
Affiliation: Democrat
Former Position(s): Lt. Governor from 2014 – 2018; State Senator from 2008 – 2014

Governor Ralph Northam addresses the Virginia House of Delegates, January 20, 2020. 

“Governor Northam approaches public service with the same passion he brought to his military and medical service. He is committed to working with leaders from both parties to build a Virginia that works better for every family, no matter who they are or where they live.”

Featured video: Annual address to Virginia senators, delegates and supreme court justices on Jan. 8, 2020 in the Richmond State Capitol building. Content from the original Virginia House of Delegates recording has not been edited in any way.

Source: Government page

When Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam looks back at his tenure, the inflection point between being a run-of-the-mill executive and the progressive leader he has become is a painful one.

The scandal — born of the discovery of a decades-old yearbook photo that featured someone in blackface — was an existential crisis for Northam and his administration. After initially saying the person in question was him, he denied it but admitted to darkening his skin as part of a Michael Jackson dance contest in 1984. Almost every Virginia Democrat called for his ouster as the state examined its racist past. Those closest to Northam said he was close to resigning.

How the governor survived was a surprise even to his most ardent supporters. The man who was nearly thrown out of office by his own party has, in the two years since, become a progressive champion, working with the same Democrats who called for his resignation to tighten gun laws in the commonwealth, restore the voting rights to nearly 70,000 felons, approve voting rights legislation and abolish the death penalty in the state. And just this week Northam signed legislation that would legalize marijuana this summer, the first Southern state to do so.

Top News

When Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam looks back at his tenure, the inflection point between being a run-of-the-mill executive and the progressive leader he has become is a painful one.

The scandal — born of the discovery of a decades-old yearbook photo that featured someone in blackface — was an existential crisis for Northam and his administration. After initially saying the person in question was him, he denied it but admitted to darkening his skin as part of a Michael Jackson dance contest in 1984. Almost every Virginia Democrat called for his ouster as the state examined its racist past. Those closest to Northam said he was close to resigning.

How the governor survived was a surprise even to his most ardent supporters. The man who was nearly thrown out of office by his own party has, in the two years since, become a progressive champion, working with the same Democrats who called for his resignation to tighten gun laws in the commonwealth, restore the voting rights to nearly 70,000 felons, approve voting rights legislation and abolish the death penalty in the state. And just this week Northam signed legislation that would legalize marijuana this summer, the first Southern state to do so.

Summary

Current Position: Governor since 2018
Affiliation: Democrat
Former Position(s): Lt. Governor from 2014 – 2018; State Senator from 2008 – 2014

Governor Ralph Northam addresses the Virginia House of Delegates, January 20, 2020. 

“Governor Northam approaches public service with the same passion he brought to his military and medical service. He is committed to working with leaders from both parties to build a Virginia that works better for every family, no matter who they are or where they live.”

Featured video: Annual address to Virginia senators, delegates and supreme court justices on Jan. 8, 2020 in the Richmond State Capitol building. Content from the original Virginia House of Delegates recording has not been edited in any way.

Source: Government page

About

Ralph Northam 2

Source: Government page

Before he was inaugurated as the 73rd Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Ralph Northam served as an Army doctor, pediatric neurologist, business owner, state Senator and Lieutenant Governor.

A native of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Governor Northam was educated at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), where he graduated with distinction.

After graduation, Governor Northam was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army. He served eight years of active duty and rose to the rank of major.

He attended Eastern Virginia Medical School and then traveled to San Antonio for a pediatric residency, where he met his wife Pamela, a pediatric occupational therapist at the same hospital.  Governor Northam did his residencies at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and served as chief neurological resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital. As an Army doctor, he served in Germany, treating soldiers wounded in Operation Desert Storm.

When Governor Northam and Pamela returned home, they chose to build their life in Hampton Roads. He began practicing pediatric neurology at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk. He established Children’s Specialty Group, his current medical practice, to provide expert pediatric care for patients. Governor Northam also served as assistant professor of neurology at Eastern Virginia Medical School, where he taught medicine and ethics.

Governor Northam volunteered as medical director for the Edmarc Hospice for Children in Portsmouth, where he spent 18 years caring for terminally ill children.

Governor Northam approaches public service with the same passion he brought to his military and medical service.  He is committed to working with leaders from both parties to build a Virginia that works better for every family, no matter who they are or where they live.

Governor Northam is the first native of the Eastern Shore to serve as Governor since Governor Henry A. Wise took office 1856. He is also the first VMI Keydet to serve as Governor since Governor Westmoreland Davis took office in 1918.

Governor Northam and First Lady Pamela Northam have two adult children: Wes, a neurosurgical resident in Chapel Hill, and Aubrey, a web developer in Richmond.

Experience

Work Experience

  • pediatric neurologist
    Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia.[
    1992 to present
  • medical officer
    United States Army
    1982 to 1984

Education

  • MD
    Eastern Virginia Medical School
    1984
  • BA
    Virginia Military Institute
    1981

Contact

Email:

Offices

Richmond Office
Virginia Governor
Ralph Northam
P.O. Box 1475
Richmond, VA 23218
Phone: 804-786-2211

Web

Government Page, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube

Twitter

Politics

Source: Wikipedia

Prior to entering politics, Northam voted for Republican George W. Bush in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, a fact that opponents raised in later Democratic primaries. Northam says that he was apolitical at the time and regretted those votes, saying: “Politically, there was no question, I was underinformed.”

Virginia State Senate

Northam first ran for office in 2007 in the Virginia 6th Senate district, which includes the Eastern Shore of Virginia; Mathews County, on the Middle Peninsula; and parts of the cities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach. He was unopposed for the Democratic nomination. On November 6, 2007, he defeated Nick Rerras, a two-term Republican incumbent, 17,307 votes to 14,499.

He was re-elected in November 2011, defeating Ben Loyola Jr., a defense contractor, 16,606 votes to 12,622.

One of Northam’s first major activities as a state legislator was to lead an effort to pass a ban on smoking in restaurants in Virginia. The bill failed the first time, but was passed the next year and signed into law by Governor Tim Kaine.

In 2009, Northam—a self-described “conservative on fiscal issues and liberal on social issues” was the subject of an attempt by state Senate Republicans to get him to switch parties. This action would have given Republicans control of the State Senate, but after news of the imminent switch broke on Twitter, Democrats held a closed-door meeting, and Northam reiterated that he was not leaving the party. He later said, “I guess it’s nice to be wanted, but I’m a Democrat, and that’s where I’m staying.”

Lieutenant Governor of Virginia

Northam ran for lieutenant governor as Terry McAuliffe’s running mate.

Northam ran for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in the 2013 election. Northam competed against U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra for the Democratic nomination. On June 11, 2013, Northam won the Democratic primary over Chopra with 54% of the vote to Chopra’s 46%.

On November 5, 2013, Northam was elected as Virginia’s 40th Lieutenant Governor over Republican E. W. Jackson by a 10% margin, receiving 55% of the vote to Jackson’s 45%.Northam was the first Democrat since Tim Kaine in 2001 to be elected Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.

2017 gubernatorial election

In February 2015, just over a year into his term as lieutenant governor, Northam confirmed his interest in running for Governor of Virginia in 2017.  He made these intentions official on November 17, 2015, via an email to supporters.

Northam faced former congressman Tom Perriello in the Democratic primary. The primary campaign was seen as a proxy battle between the Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party, represented by Perriello, and the wing, represented by Northam. On June 13, 2017, Northam won the Democratic nomination with 56% of the vote to Perriello’s 44%. He faced Republican nominee Ed Gillespie in the general election.

Northam’s campaign funds were heavily depleted by the end of the primary race. He was left with around $1.75 million, which amounted to roughly half of Gillespie’s remaining funds. But by the end of summer 2017 Northam’s war chest had grown “twice as large [as Gillespie’s] heading into the last two months of the campaign, according to finance reports.” Northam led Gillespie among small donors, as well: “5,900 donations under $100 to Gillespie’s 2,100.”

In October 2017, the Northam campaign released a small number of flyers omitting Northam’s running-mate for Lieutenant Governor,Justin Fairfax. These were released at the request of Laborers’ International Union of North America, which had endorsed Northam (and Northam’s running mate for Attorney General, Mark Herring, who was included on the flyer), but not Fairfax. LIUNA explained that Fairfax opposes the construction of natural gas pipelines that are favored by the organization. As Fairfax is black, while Northam and Herring are both white, some activists criticized the decision to accommodate LIUNA’s request. All houses that received the LIUNA flyers also received standard campaign flyers including Fairfax.

During the campaign, Gillespie and President Donald Trump accused Northam of being responsible for the increased activities of theMS-13 gangs and of being “in favor of sanctuary cities that let dangerous illegal immigrants back on the streets.” Gillespie and Trump said that Northam had been the deciding vote to stop a Republican bill in the state Senate which would have banned sanctuary cities and that this contributed to the surge in MS-13 violence; a notion that FactCheck.org found to be “misleading”. TheWashington Post and CNN noted that there are no actual sanctuary cities in Virginia. Gillespie himself acknowledged that Virginia did not have sanctuary cities. The Washington Post furthermore noted that there is no evidence that sanctuary cities increase crime or gang activity, and that Virginia communities with higher immigrant populations have lower crime rates.

Later that month, the Latino Victory Fund, which supports Northam, released an ad in which a pickup truck, adorned with a Gillespie bumper sticker, a “Don’t tread on me” license plate, and a Confederate flag, chases down minority children and corners them in an alley—one of the children in the ad then wakes up, revealing the scene to have been a nightmare.[42][43] Although Northam and his campaign were not involved with the ad, Northam initially defended it, saying Gillespie’s own ads “have promoted fearmongering, hatred, bigotry, racial divisiveness,” and adding, “I mean, it’s upset a lot of communities, and they have the right to express their views as well.” The ad was pulled the following day in the hours after the terrorist attack in New York City, in which a man killed several people by running them over with a truck. Northam then distanced himself from the ad, re-emphasizing that it was not released by his campaign and saying that it is not one that he would have chosen to run. A spokesman for the campaign said that the Latino Victory Fund’s decision to pull the ad was “appropriate and the right thing to do.” FOX 5 DC reported that the Northam campaign had accepted $62,000 as an in-kind media contribution from the Latino Victory Fund.

In the final week of the campaign, Northam stated that he would as governor sign a bill to ban sanctuary cities in Virginia similar to a bill he had voted against in the state Senate earlier in 2017. In response, the progressive group Democracy for America stated that it stopped direct aid of Northam’s campaign. Howard Dean, who founded Democracy for America, but left the organization in 2016, wrote on Twitter that the organization had discredited itself and called its decision to stop aiding Northam’s campaign “incredibly stupid”. Democracy for America had already stopped collecting data for Northam and had ceased mentioning him in get-out-the-vote calls due to his campaign’s decision to remove Justin Fairfax from certain campaign fliers.

Northam held campaign rallies with former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden during the general election campaign.

According to the Washington Post, Northam owns stock in several companies “doing extensive work in Virginia”. Northam has stated that if elected governor, he would place his financial investments into a blind trust, so as to avoid any potential conflicts of interest.

According to the Virginia Public Access Project, as of November 3, 2017, Northam has raised $33.8 million to Gillespie’s $24.5 million.

Northam was elected 73rd Governor of Virginia on November 7, 2017, defeating Ed Gillespie in the general election with a larger-than-expected nine-point margin of victory.

Governor of Virginia

Northam was sworn in as Governor of Virginia at noon on January 13, 2018 at the State Capitol. He became the second Eastern Shore native to serve as Governor of Virginia, after Henry A. Wise (who was elected in 1855) and the second alumnus of Virginia Military Institute to serve as governor, after Westmoreland Davis (who was elected in 1917). A majority of Northam’s cabinet secretaries are female, a first in Virginia history. Residents from every county in Virginia attended Northam’s inauguration (which reportedly marked another first for the state) and twenty-six groups participated in the inaugural parade, which has been called the largest and most diverse in state history.

Recent Elections

2017 Governor

Ralph Northam (D)1,408,81853.9%
Edward Walter Gillespie (R)1,175,73245.0%
Clifford Daniel Hyra (L)27,9871.1%
Write in (Write-in)1,5280.1%
TOTAL2,614,065

2013 Lt. Governor

Ralph Northam (D)1,213,15555.1%
Earl Walker Jackson, Sr. (R)980,25744.5%
Write in (Write-in)8,2250.4%
TOTAL2,201,637

2011 State Senator

Ralph Northam (D)16,60656.8%
Benito Loyola, Jr. (R)12,62243.1%
Write in (Write-in)310.1%
TOTAL29,259

Source: Department of Elections

Finances

NORTHAM, RALPH S has run in 4 races for public office, winning 4 of them. The candidate has raised a total of $41,626,149

Source: Follow the Money

Voting Record

See: Vote Smart

Issues

Source: Wikipedia

The Washington Post described Northam as a moderate state senator who moved to the left on some issues during the 2017 gubernatorial Democratic primary, such as support for a $15 minimum wage and opposition to a state constitutional amendment enshrining right-to-work legislation.

Civil Rights

Abortion

Northam supports abortion rights. In the Virginia General Assembly, he opposed a bill to mandate vaginal ultrasounds for women seeking abortions, and voted against the bill when it was revised to mandate only abdominal ultrasounds. He was endorsed in the 2017 Democratic gubernatorial primary by the abortion rights group NARALand its Virginia affiliate. Northam has argued for reducing abortion rates through education and expanding access to contraceptives.[126] Planned Parenthood pledged to spend $3 million supporting Northam in his 2017 general election campaign for governor. Northam opposes banning abortions after 20 weeks through a state version of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

For third-trimester abortions, Northam supports Virginia’s current law requiring certification by multiple physicians. During a January 2019 radio interview, Northam said that third-trimester abortions may be done in cases of a non-viable fetus or severe deformity. If a delivery occurred in such cases, Northam further stated that, “The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.” This statement drew intense criticism from Republican politicians nationwide, many of whom accused Northam of supporting infanticide

LGBTQ rights

Northam has supported LGBT rights throughout his political career. While running for lieutenant governor in 2013, he criticized his Republican opponent, E. W. Jackson, for making what were widely considered to be divisive statements about LGBT individuals. During a debate with Jackson, who is a minister, Northam said, “What I do in church translates to what I do in everyday life. Whether it’s said in my church or whether it’s said in my medical clinic or whether it’s said before the Senate, it’s on me and it’s what I believe in.” That summer, when the United States Defense Department began offering marriage benefits to military personnel in same-sex relationships, Northam and Jackson disagreed with each other on the issue. Jackson said that because gay marriage was illegal in Virginia at the time, the state should withhold benefits from gay couples serving in its National Guard, while Northam supported the federal policy. Northam said that equalizing benefits for gay couples in the United States military is about “being fair with those who have served our country.”

During the 2013 campaign, Northam said that opposition to LGBT rights would create an unwelcoming business environment in Virginia. In 2015, he used his tie-breaking abilities as lieutenant governor to defeat a bill in the state Senate that would have forced Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring to defend the state’s gay marriage ban; Herring had argued that the ban was unconstitutional.

In 2017, while running for governor, Northam spoke against the Physical Privacy Act, a bill proposed that year in Virginia, which if passed, would have required people in government facilities to use restrooms corresponding to the gender specified on their original birth certificates. Northam called the Physical Privacy Act a “job-killing, prejudicial bill”.[198] Later that same year, before Northam was elected governor, the Physical Privacy Act was defeated in the state legislature.

Northam condemned the decision by President Donald Trump to ban transgender service members from the United States military. Shortly after Trump announced this policy, Northam tweeted, “Anyone who wants to serve our country in the military should be welcomed. They’re patriots and should be treated as such.”

Northam’s first official action as governor was to sign an executive order banning the executive branch of the state government from discriminating against LGBTQ employees. The state of Virginia currently does not have any legislation protecting LGBTQ employees from employment discrimination. Protections on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity that had been established through an executive order issued by Northam’s gubernatorial predecessor, Terry McAuliffe,[f] were maintained by Northam’s own executive order, which went further, introducing, for the first time in Virginia, protection on the basis of gender expression.

While serving as lieutenant governor, Northam broke a tie in the state Senate, supporting a bill that would have codified into state law the protections included in McAuliffe’s aforementioned executive order. This bill was defeated in the House of Delegates. If passed, it would have applied to all state and local government employees in Virginia; each anti-discrimination executive order issued by a Virginia governor has only applied to employees under the governor’s personal authority.[208][219]Legislation that would have codified Northam’s own executive order into state law passed the state Senate in 2018 and 2019, but failed both years to pass in the House of Delegates.

Marijuana

Northam favors decriminalizing marijuana.

Democracy

Redistricting

During his 2017 campaign for governor, Northam said that if elected, he would approve a map of new Virginia legislative and congressional boundaries in the post-2020 redistricting only if it is drawn by a nonpartisan commission.

Campaign and voting legislation

n January 2019, Northam introduced legislation including bills to end Virginia’s photo ID law and a bill to allow absentee “no-excuse” voting to replace the current law which contains limits. He is also proposing new campaign finance limits that would block direct donations from corporations, cap donations at $10,000, and prohibit the personal use of campaign funds by lawmakers.[

Economy

Northam supports increasing Virginia’s minimum wage, which at $7.25 an hour, has not surpassed the federally mandated level set in 2009.[152][153] While serving as lieutenant governor in 2014, Northam broke a tie in the Virginia state Senate, passing a bill that would have increased the state’s minimum wage by increments.[152][154][155]Under the bill, the state’s minimum wage would have settled at $9.25 an hour, after two years.[156] The measure was never enacted due to failing in the Virginia House of Delegates.[152][155][156] Three years later, as a gubernatorial candidate, Northam proposed that Virginia set its minimum wage at $15 an hour.[152][c] As governor, Northam plans to campaign against Republican state legislators who oppose a higher minimum wage.[152] Northam has pointed to the costliness of transportation in rural parts of the state to dispute the notion that a $15 minimum wage is too high for those areas.[157] During Northam’s first year as governor, he vetoed a bill passed by the Republican-controlled legislature that would have banned localized minimum wages for government contractors.[158]

During his 2017 campaign for governor, Northam was endorsed by the Laborers’ International Union of North America; the union praised Northam for his opposition to a “right-to-work” amendment to the Virginia state constitution.[159] Northam criticized the repeal of the car tax under former Governor Jim Gilmore because of its impact on both K-12 and higher education, saying Virginia still has not recovered.[160]

Northam “has called for phasing out the grocery tax on low-income people and ending business taxes in struggling rural areas.”[161] He has called for a bipartisan reform commission to make recommendations on state tax policy.

Education

Northam has proposed making it free for students to pursue a community college education or apprenticeship in a high-demand field (such as cybersecurity and early-childhood education) under the condition that they commit to a year of paid public service.[67]

Northam opposes public funding for private schools.

Environment

Environment and energy

Northam accepts the scientific consensus on climate change and as a candidate for governor vowed to lead efforts to fight climate change. He pledged, if elected, to bring Virginia into the United States Climate Alliance, a multi-state agreement to uphold greenhouse gas emissions standards. Northam has emphasized the negative effects of climate-change-induced sea level rise on Virginia’s Tidewater region.

During his 2017 campaign for governor, Northam pledged if elected to continue implementing the total maximum daily load limits for nitrogen and phosphorus discharges into Chesapeake Bay, a policy that had reduced harmful algal blooms. Northam said he would continue this policy even if the federal government under Donald Trump cut or eliminated funding for the program. During his campaign, Northam was endorsed by the Virginia League of Conservation Voters and the Virginia Sierra Club.

Northam has offered conditional support for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, provided that the pipeline’s construction is deemed to be environmentally safe.[164][165] He has avoided taking a firm stance on other pipelines such as the Mountain Valley Pipeline.[166] He opposes both offshore drilling and fracking.

Northam has supported the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). In 2019, he vetoed a bill that would have prohibited Virginia from entering into the initiative, but in May 2019, he chose not to veto language in the state budget that prohibits spending related to the initiative, because under Virginia law, governors are generally not allowed to issue line-item vetoes of the state budget. According to The Washington Post, had Northam issued the veto, it could have been challenged in court by the Republican-controlled legislature, and Northam wanted to avoid a long legal confrontation. Northam has said that he will seek to implement RGGI spending in future budgets.

Health Care

Northam supports the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), although he has argued that it is in need of improvement. After Republican attempts to repeal the law, Northam called for members of Congress to “put a stop to the uncertainty and work on stabilizing and building on the Affordable Care Act’s progress.”

Northam opposes a single-payer healthcare system in Virginia, preferring that such a plan be run by the federal government, but supports the creation of a state-run public health insurance option.[67]

On June 7, 2018, Northam signed a bipartisan bill expanding Medicaid in Virginia. This fulfilled one of his central campaign promises.[174][175] Northam’s gubernatorial predecessor, Terry McAuliffe, had tried throughout all four years of his own term in office to enact Medicaid expansion, but McAuliffe was never able to secure enough support from Republicans, who controlled the state legislature at the time. Following the 2017 election, which brought significant gains for Democrats in the Virginia House of Delegates, Republicans still held a narrow legislative majority; during this time however, opposition to Medicaid expansion diminished among Republicans, several of whom were willing to crossover in support of the bill. Once the bill was enacted on January 1, 2019, Virginia became the 33rd state to expand Medicaid and the first to do so since Louisiana in 2016. Enrollment in the expanded program began on November 1, 2018. By the beginning of 2019, more than 200,000 Virginians had enrolled in Medicaid as part of the expansion.

On February 21, 2019, Northam signed a bipartisan bill raising the smoking age in Virginia from eighteen to twenty-one.

Family leave and child care

When Northam was inaugurated as governor, the family leave policy for executive branch employees in the state of Virginia applied exclusively to employees who had given birth and offered only partial pay. In June 2018, Northam signed an executive order extending the policy to apply to both mothers and fathers, including not only biological parents but also adoptive and foster parents. Under the new policy, employees receive eight weeks off at full pay.[168] Earlier in the year, Republican Speaker of the House of Delegates Kirk Cox had established a similar policy offering legislative branch employees twelve weeks of paid leave.

With regards to private sector employees, Northam has said that he wants to implement tax credits for small businesses that offer paid family leave.

In 2018, Northam formed a commission to study the possibility of offering child care to state employees in Richmond. Northam’s wife, Pam, serves on the panel.[

Immigration

In his 2007 campaign for state Senate, Northam “advocated for Virginia being ‘even more stringent than we are now in fighting illegal immigration,’ and said the state should act as ‘strong partners’ with federal law enforcement.” Northam’s rhetoric shifted in his 2017 gubernatorial campaign. In 2017 Northam pledged to “stand up against ICE” so that “people, especially immigrants, in Virginia aren’t living in fear,” saying: “Something that we are very proud of in Virginia is that we are inclusive.” He continued by saying “We will do everything we can to make sure immigrants are comfortable living here.” Northam opposed President Trump’s decision to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which offered temporary stay for unauthorized immigrants who came to the United States as minors. Northam said Trump’s “decision lacks compassion, lacks moral sense, and lacks economic sense.” Northam supports granting state driver’s licenses and in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants.

In February 2017, Northam cast a tie-breaking vote in the state Senate against a bill to ban sanctuary cities in Virginia. Northam said he was “proud to break a tie when Republicans tried to scapegoat immigrants for political gain” and that he was “glad to put a stop to” the bill. In an October 2017 debate, Northam said he did not support sanctuary cities, stating that there currently were none in Virginia, but Northam declined to say whether he would sign a bill as governor that was similar to the one he voted against in the Senate. In November 2017, Northam clarified that while he would veto any bill pre-emptively banning sanctuary cities in Virginia, he would support a ban, if sanctuary cities began appearing in the state. In April 2018, as governor, Northam vetoed a law that would have pre-emptively banned sanctuary cities in Virginia. He vetoed the same legislation again the following year.

Safety

Criminal justice

During Virginia’s 2017 gubernatorial campaign, both Northam and his opponent, Ed Gillespie, called for the state’s felony threshold on theft to be raised, which at $200, was then tied with New Jersey for lowest in the nation.[140][141] Set in 1980, the threshold’s value would have been equal to around $600 in 2017, if it had kept pace with inflation.[142] Outgoing governor Terry McAuliffe had attempted, during his final year in office, to raise the threshold to $500, but was unable to advance such a proposal through the legislature.[143][144] Both McAuliffe and Northam supported raising the threshold even further to $1,000,[141] which would have been more closely aligned with those found in a majority of other states,[142] while Gillespie approved of a $500 threshold.[145] Following Northam’s election to the governorship, The Washington Postidentified this issue as an opportunity for bipartisan legislation.[146]

In early February 2018, about a month after his inauguration as governor, Northam struck a deal with the Republican-controlled legislature to raise the felony threshold to $500; in exchange, Northam gave support to Republican-sponsored legislation that would require criminal defendants seeking parole to first pay full restitution to victims.[142][147] McAuliffe had vetoed a comparable restitution bill the previous year. The Washington Post’s editorial board called Northam’s compromise “a small step toward fairer justice in Virginia”, but voiced concern that the restitution bill would place an onerous burden on poor defendants; the editorial board also noted that the $500 threshold is still one of the country’s lowest and still, when adjusted for inflation, under the level that had been set in 1980.[147]

As governor, Northam signed into law a bill imposing a new mandatory minimum sentence for those who are convicted of murdering a police officer. Later during his term, in May 2019, he vowed against signing any further legislation imposing mandatory minimum sentences. In an op-ed for The Washington Post, he argued that such legislation is racially discriminatory and leads to over-incarceration.

Death penalty

Ralph Northam opposes the death penalty.

Guns

According to The Washington Post, Northam favors the “reinstatement of Virginia’s ‘one-gun-a-month’ law limiting purchases, as well as a ban on high-capacity magazines and assault weapons.

Confederate monuments

On the controversies over public monuments to the Confederacy, in June 2017 Northam stated that the statues in the state Capitol that the General Assembly has jurisdiction over “should be taken down and moved into museums”, and that the decision on other statues “belongs to local communities.” He has said that there should be more public memorials to historical Virginia civil rights leaders such as Barbara Rose Johns, Oliver Hill, and Samuel Wilbert Tucker. In August 2017, Northam took a firmer stance, saying, “I believe these statues should be taken down and moved into museums. As governor, I am going to be a vocal advocate for that approach and work with localities on this issue.”[137] Northam later reverted to his original stance that decisions on the monuments should be made locally.

Donald Trump

In a political commercial called “Listening”, run during the Virginia Democratic primary, Northam described the importance to him of listening – as a doctor, to his patients and as lieutenant governor, to his constituents. He ended with, “I’ve been listening carefully to Donald Trump, and I think he’s a narcissistic maniac.” As the general election drew near Northam said, “[I]f Donald Trump is helping Virginia, I’ll work with him.” Northam explained the “softer tone”: “I think people already know [their opinions of Trump] and they are judging for themselves. What we are talking about as we move forward are the policies that are coming out of Washington that are so detrimental to Virginia”

X
2020 State of the Commonwealth Address 32020 State of the Commonwealth Address

Who: Governor Ralph Northam
What: Annual address to Virginia senators, delegates, and supreme court justices
When: Jan. 8, 2020 – 7 to 8 pm (EST)
Where: Richmond State Capitol

Content from the original Virginia House of Delegates recording has not been edited in any way.

To view Governor Northam’s 2019 State of the Commonwealth Address, go this post. This post also has a transcript of the Governor’s address and articles about the address. Go to Ralph Northam’s post to learn more about the Governor.

https://vimeo.com/384863950 

Summary

Who: Governor Ralph Northam
What: Annual address to Virginia senators, delegates, and supreme court justices
When: Jan. 8, 2020 – 7 to 8 pm (EST)
Where: Richmond State Capitol

Content from the original Virginia House of Delegates recording has not been edited in any way.

To view Governor Northam’s 2019 State of the Commonwealth Address, go this post. This post also has a transcript of the Governor’s address and articles about the address. Go to Ralph Northam’s post to learn more about the Governor.

https://vimeo.com/384863950 

X
Governor Northam Videos 12019 State of the Commonwealth Address

Who:  Governor Ralph Northam

When:  Jan. 8,, 2019 

Where:  Richmond State Capitol

What:  Annual address to Virginia senators, delegates, and supreme court justices

How long:  59:42

Summary

Who:  Governor Ralph Northam

When:  Jan. 8,, 2019 

Where:  Richmond State Capitol

What:  Annual address to Virginia senators, delegates, and supreme court justices

How long:  59:42

Articles

CBS19 NEWS

RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) — Governor Ralph Northam delivered the State of the Commonwealth Address on Wednesday evening, kicking off this year’s General Assembly session.

Northam reassured Virginia that things are looking up: Virginia’s economy is growing with the lowest unemployment rate in 17 years and more jobs are coming with Amazon moving to Northern Virginia and Microsoft expanding in Mecklenburg County.

“We can say with certainty, that the state of our beloved Commonwealth is as strong as ever,” said Northam.

VA Dems

Governor Northam urges cooperation, action, progress in state of commonwealth address

Va. Gov. Northam urges Republicans to embrace ambitious budget in annualaddress (Washington Post)

Invoking the “Virginia Way” of political compromise, Northam catalogued the accomplishments of his first year in office — including expanding Medicaid to hundreds of thousands of low-income Virginians, raising the larceny threshold and securing funding for Metro — and he urged both parties to cooperate.

“The successes in this past year have come about not because I, or you legislators, did something individually — but because we worked together,” he said. “When we work together and help provide a strong foundation for Virginians, our families and businesses thrive.”

In era of national gridlock and division, Northam urges Virginia lawmakers to find ‘a different path forward’ (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

In his first official State of the Commonwealth address, Northam urged the legislature to “offer a different path forward” in a national political climate dominated by partisan fights and gridlock.

Pointing to the partial federal government shutdown that has affected thousands of Virginia workers, Northam said that in Washington “some politicians have a way of making even the simplest things look difficult.”

“I believe that most of the time, people find what they’re looking for. If they’re looking for division, they’ll find it,” Northam said. “But if they — if we — look for areas where we can agree, we’ll find them.” 

Northam pitches policy plan, urges cooperation (Associated Press)

Still, Northam repeatedly called on lawmakers of both parties to work together, a word he repeated throughout his speech.

“It can be tempting to retreat to our corners and shout at each other. But I believe we all have that internal moral compass, the one that guides us toward the right thing to do. I hope we all follow it this session,” Northam said.

“In Virginia, we can work together to restore balance and fairness on the state level,” Northam said.

Northam also used his speech to take a victory lap as he completes his first year in office. The governor has scored two legacy-making wins in his first year: expanding Medicaid and landing a new Amazon headquarters with 25,000 new jobs.

Governor Northam urges bipartisanship in State Of Commonwealth Address (CBS 6 NEWS)

“Putting politics aside for the good of the people shouldn’t be hard, but as we are seeing up the road in Washington, some politicians have a way of making even the simplest things look difficult,” Northam said.  “Virginia can offer a different path forward.”

Northam celebrated several achievements by his administration and state lawmakers over the course of his first year in office, touting legislative compromises in 2018 that expanded Medicaid in Virginia and decreased the grand larceny threshold.

The Governor also took aim at several pieces of legislation he plans to back in 2019.  They include decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, an “extreme risk law” to allow police and courts to take a person’s firearm if they pose a danger to themselves or others, and codifying a woman’s “fundamental right to make her own health care decisions.”

Governor Ralph Northam gives State of the Commonwealth Address (CBS 19 NEWS)

Northam reassured Virginia that things are looking up: Virginia’s economy is growing with the lowest unemployment rate in seventeen years and more jobs are coming with Amazon coming to Northern Virginia and Microsoft expanding in Mecklenburg County.

“We can say with certainty, that the state of our beloved commonwealth is as strong as ever,” said Northam.

One of Northam’s biggest successes in 2018 was expanding Medicaid.

“No longer will these Virginians have to worry about whether they can afford to see a doctor,” said Northam, referring to the over 200,000 adults now enrolled in the expanded Medicaid program.

Virginia Mercury

Gov. Northam renews calls to decriminalize marijuana in speech to General Assembly

By Ned Oliver, Jan. 9, 2019

Gov. Ralph Northam is proposing decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana during his State of the Commonwealth address Wednesday night:

We want to keep people safe. But we shouldn’t use valuable law enforcement time, or costly prison space, on laws that don’t enhance public safety.

So I’m proposing that we decriminalize simple possession of marijuana.

Transcript

RICHMOND—Tonight, Governor Ralph Northam will deliver the annual State of the Commonwealth address. He will reflect on the progress made during his first year in office and outline his plans to keep the Commonwealth moving forward.

AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY:

My fellow Virginians, ladies and gentlemen—good evening.

Speaker Cox, Senator Newman, Justices of the Supreme Court, Lieutenant Governor Fairfax, Attorney General Herring, distinguished members of the Virginia General Assembly—thank you for inviting me to be with you tonight.

Please join me in welcoming my wife, Virginia’s First Lady Pamela Northam. I want to thank Pam for her focus on ensuring that every child in the Commonwealth is able to benefit from access to quality, early childhood education.

Before I begin, I want to acknowledge a moment of history we are sharing together. This is the first time in the 400-year history of the Virginia General Assembly that a woman has led a legislative caucus.

Please join me in congratulating Leader Eileen Filler-Corn on her historic achievement.

And thank you, Delegate Toscano, for your years of service.

Finally, I want to recognize my cabinet and the thousands of Virginia state employees they represent for their committed service to our people. I’m often asked what has most impressed me as governor, and it’s the hard work and talent of our thousands of state workers, from game wardens, to VDOT road crews, to state police.

Each of you works diligently to ensure that every corner of this Commonwealth is a place of opportunity for all.

It is an honor to serve as the 73rd Governor of this great Commonwealth. It’s hard to believe that a year has already come and gone since I last addressed the General Assembly.

We’ve had a very successful year together, and Virginians are better for it.

In fact, we’ve been so successful together that I’ve already started thinking about the future, about 2020. And so tonight, I am proud to announce I am going to seriously explore a run for President …

… of the Eastern Shore Antique Car Club.

In all seriousness, I am grateful for all that we have been able to accomplish, working together.

This last year has taught me a great deal, and I know that while it can often be difficult to serve in elected office, the work we do together is as important now as it ever has been.

We’re a state that supports our veterans, embraces diversity and inclusion, and attracts visitors from around the world. We work every day to make sure that Virginia is a place of opportunity, where everyone can build the life they want to live.

With unemployment at the lowest levels in decades, a growing economy, expanding access to health coverage to 400,000 working Virginians, and investing record amounts in public schools and environmental protection, we can say with certainty that the State of our beloved Commonwealth is as strong as ever.

I believe Virginians select their leaders for one reason: to make this Commonwealth work better for them and their families, no matter who they are or where they live.

Putting politics aside for the good of the people shouldn’t be hard. But as we are seeing up the road in Washington, some politicians have a way of making even the simplest things look difficult.

In recent weeks, our federal government has shut down, and thousands of Virginia’s federal workers, as well as all of those Americans whom they serve, have paid the price.

Over the course of this 46-day session, Virginia can offer a different path forward.

I believe that most of the time, people find what they’re looking for. If they’re looking for division, they’ll find it.

But if they—if we—look for areas where we can agree, we’ll find them.

Throughout our history, Virginia has led the nation by example. The Virginia Way charges us to put people ahead of politics, and to leave this place better than we found it.

I am proud to say we’re off to a good start.

In our first year working together, we have achieved major accomplishments that fulfilled our mandate to improve Virginians’ lives.

We passed an historic budget that means 400,000 more Virginians will be able to see a doctor when they are sick.

We strengthened our Commonwealth’s finances by shoring up our reserves and preserving our valuable Triple-A bond rating.

We broke down decades of gridlock on criminal justice reform by finally raising the felony larceny threshold.

We led the region in securing a dedicated source of revenue for Metro for the first time in the system’s history.

We agreed to boost pay for our educators and retool our workforce development efforts.

We worked together to make government more efficient through regulatory reform, and to be a better steward of taxpayers’ dollars.

We created a parental leave plan for state employees, and the House of Delegates and Senate did the same, providing parents an important opportunity to be with their new children.

And in the midst of a growing economy, and the lowest unemployment rate in seventeen years, we have built on our momentum and announced many new jobs and investments in every single corner of our Commonwealth.

The successes in this past year have come about not because I, or you legislators, did something individually—but because we worked together. When we work together and help provide a strong foundation for Virginians, our families and businesses thrive.

And while we’ve had a successful year, we can’t rest on that. Every year we must make more progress toward a Commonwealth of opportunity for everyone.

When we invest in Virginians and their future in a fiscally responsible way, no one can stop us. We can again be the best state in the nation for business.

We can make sure the economy works well for everyone not just those at the top.

We have always been a national leader. Let us never abandon that mantle.

I spent my career as a child neurologist, seeing young patients. Over the span of those years, I saw thousands of children and their parents.

And I can’t name a single instance when any of them asked me whether I was a Democrat or a Republican—nor did I ask them. They just wanted me to help them.

And that’s what the people of Virginia want from us.

Last year, I promised that I would govern to get things done. I said that my goal would always be to do what was best for the people of Virginia. I promised I’d work with anyone to make our Commonwealth work better for all Virginians.

I believe there is no better place in this great country of ours to live, work, and raise a family than Virginia.

Let’s renew that commitment to working together to build a Commonwealth where every person, particularly every child, has the same shot at a healthy, safe, and successful life.

I’m here tonight to tell you that the state of the Commonwealth is strong, and we are poised to make it even stronger.

Since I took office, we’ve announced more than 41,000 new jobs, with more than $8 billion in new capital investment.

That means 41,000 more Virginians who can pay rent or mortgages, buy groceries and school supplies, and put paychecks to work in local businesses.

These new jobs represent people who can live in their hometowns, instead of leaving for a job somewhere else.

Growing up on the Eastern Shore, I know how young people leave our rural areas for jobs and don’t come back.

That is why our Administration has made it a priority to ensure that every region of Virginia is part of our economic success—so that people can build their lives in the place of their choosing.

We still have work to do, but I’m pleased by the progress we have made so far.

This year, I’ve made nearly 100 visits to rural parts of Virginia to announce more than $1.25 billion in new capital expenditures.

Tonight, I’m proud to make another one of these announcements.

Microsoft will inject significant capital investment to expand its datacenter campus in Mecklenburg County which will create more than 100 new jobs. This will be Microsoft’s sixth expansion at that facility since 2010, which is great news for that area.

This is a huge win for rural Virginia and we should all be proud. I want to thank Senator Frank Ruff, Delegate Tommy Wright, and all the members who played a part in this.

I also want to welcome Jeremy Satterfield, the Virginia manager of TechSpark at Microsoft, who is in the gallery tonight. Microsoft’s TechSpark program works to create more job opportunities in economically stressed areas, and southern Virginia is one of the regions where they’re working.

With this Microsoft news, Amazon’s decision to select Virginia for a new corporate headquarters, and Micron’s expansion, it’s clear that our efforts to bring new jobs and investments to our Commonwealth are paying off.

These companies are attracted to Virginia for our exceptional education system, our skilled workforce, and our strong business climate.

Virginia was once ranked as the number one state in the country in which to do business.

This year, we climbed in the rankings, from fifth to fourth. But we can’t get back to number one if we aren’t supporting our small business owners, the backbone of our economy.

As a small business owner myself, I’ll never lose sight of that.

This partial government shutdown illustrates why, with some urgency, we need to continue to diversify our economy. No one region in Virginia should be reliant on one industry.

That’s why I’m so encouraged to see the ingenuity of our small business owners as I travel across the state.

When businesses large and small want to call Virginia home, that’s a one-two punch for our economy that can’t be beat.

These businesses all need workers, and preparing Virginia’s workforce for the jobs of the 21st century begins earlier than we think.

We cannot afford to wait until students enter kindergarten to begin preparing them for successful futures.

I want to thank our First Lady Pam Northam for leading a new version of the Children’s Cabinet that is placing an unprecedented focus on early childhood development.

Thanks to their work, last week Virginia was awarded a $10 million federal grant to improve our statewide early education system – and that’s just the beginning.

With the help of Virginia’s first-ever Chief School Readiness Officer, we are working with leaders across the state and with many of the people here tonight, to ensure that every child has access to quality early childhood programs.

Just a few short weeks ago, I shared my proposed budget amendments with the Joint Money Committees.

These amendments reflect the unique opportunity we have this session: to make forward-looking investments in our success, to further strengthen our reserves, and meet our existing obligations.

We have a world-class education system—but we need to make long-term investments to sustain that quality for our students and to ensure we remain competitive in a 21st century economy.

That’s why I am eager to work with you to give our teachers the largest single-year pay raise in 15 years.

This isn’t just about the educators who deserve to be paid more. It’s about improving the education we offer our children by ensuring that we can attract and retain the best and brightest educators to classrooms in every corner of our Commonwealth.

Raising teacher pay is only part of the puzzle when it comes to making sure that every Virginia student is able to reach their full potential. Schools, educational leaders, and parents across the Commonwealth have been clear that students need a variety of services to succeed in the classroom.

That’s why I’ve proposed to fund more positions for school counselors statewide, and additional flexible funding so that school divisions can make their own decisions about which services will most benefit their students.

Early childhood and K-12 education are the backbone of our efforts to prepare students for successful lives, bringing skills to jobs—but in a modern economy we can’t stop there.

The good jobs of the future will almost always require some form of training after high school. However, at a time when college costs threaten to price many students out of the market, the good news is that some of the many rewarding jobs in the most exciting fields don’t require a four-year degree.

If Virginia is going to succeed in the economy of the future, we must expand our advantage in higher education and continue to reform our approach to workforce training.

That effort should begin with better aligning our four-year universities, community colleges and skills training programs with the needs of modern day students and the employers who are waiting to hire them.

And we need to work even harder to make postsecondary education more affordable and accessible to all students.

We’re working with the Virginia Community College System to reframe their programming, so that students can get the skills they need on the front end for 21st century jobs.

Our training certificate programs and our higher education system need to work hand in hand. And they need to be affordable.

Expensive tuition and high student debt can close the door to opportunity for too many people.

My budget would offer more tuition assistance, and requires our institutions to create tuition predictability plans.

It is high time we began regulating the companies that service our student loans. While people may not be able to avoid taking on debt to get an education, they should be able to count on basic consumer protections.

I’m also proposing specific tuition assistance for National Guard members so that the men and women who step forward to keep us safe in times of need can advance in their civilian careers as well.

Our National Guard members offer critical help, responding during and after disasters or other missions.

As we’ve learned from economic development projects, including the Amazon headquarters, good jobs come to states and communities whose workers are ready for high tech jobs.

That is why our administration is proud to partner with legislative leaders of both parties in proposing a Tech Talent Investment Fund, which will offer grants to our higher education institutions to help them provide more computer science degrees. Our goal is to produce up to 17,500 more bachelor’s degrees in computer science over the next 20 years. This is an investment in our people and our future.

Tonight, I’m laying out the roadmap to a competitive, brilliant future for all Virginians.

Until we come together to ensure universal broadband access, we are keeping opportunity out of reach for entire communities in Virginia.

When a community doesn’t have reliable Internet access, it can’t attract businesses, support its home-grown entrepreneurs, keep its students up to date, or use telehealth to keep people healthy.

The ability to get online anywhere—that’s what makes a Commonwealth of opportunity.

Weeks ago, I shared an ambitious budget proposal to speed up our progress and achieve universal broadband access within the next few years.

This is probably the number one issue I hear from Virginians as I travel around the state, and the number one issue I hear from legislators—both Republicans and Democrats.

Virginia can be a national leader in providing access to its residents if we work together and take advantage of this opportunity.

We’ve talked a lot about jobs and economic opportunity. But we know that a strong workforce has to be a healthy workforce.

Last year we joined together to expand Medicaid coverage to more working Virginians.

We knew people wanted and needed this.

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.

She has had numerous surgeries and complications, and has been uninsured since she was dropped from her parents’ insurance when she turned 26.

Kara knew what Medicaid expansion could mean for her. So on Halloween night, Kara camped out so that she could be the first in line to apply for health coverage under the new eligibility rules.

Kara is here with us tonight. Please give her a warm welcome.

Kara, thank you for being here and letting me share your story, so that we can appreciate the impact of our work together on Medicaid expansion last year.

Kara wasn’t the only one who knew what this care would mean. On the first day of enrollment, our call center had a flood of 6,000 calls.

To date, more than 200,000 Virginia adults have already enrolled through our expanded Medicaid program. Their coverage began at the start of this new year.

No longer will these Virginians have to worry about whether they can afford to see a doctor, or get worrisome symptoms checked out. No longer will they fear that one illness will drive them to bankruptcy.

Now if they need it, they can get treatment for mental illness or substance abuse disorder.

There are thousands of Virginians with stories like Kara’s. This new coverage will help them stay healthy, work, and lead more productive lives.

It will also serve as a reminder of what we in this room can achieve when we put politics aside and do what we know is right.

Virginians are counting on us to bring that same approach to our work this year. Few issues are more deserving of our intense focus than the opioid crisis.

Last year, we lost 1,227 Virginians to opioid overdose. We lost 1,534 Virginians to overdoses from all drugs.

It is my belief that an overdose death is a preventable one, and I want to do everything that I can as governor and as a doctor to bring awareness to this epidemic.

That’s why I traveled to all six of Virginia’s medical schools last year, to teach our future and current doctors about their role in fighting the opioid crisis. As physicians, we need to think more innovatively about the ways we treat acute and chronic pain.

At each of my stops on this lecture tour, I was accompanied by a young man from Allegheny County who is recovering from addiction. I first met him and his father at a law enforcement event on the Eastern Shore.

An honor roll student and son of a well-respected sheriff, his journey started after fracturing his leg in a high school football game. He was rushed to the hospital and started on dilaudid for his pain. He was prescribed other narcotics and became addicted.

When his prescriptions ran out, he turned to heroin, and then fentanyl. To support his addiction and to avoid the symptoms of being dopesick, he took actions that led to run-ins with the law. Eventually he spent 18 months in jail.

With medically assisted treatment and counseling, the support of his family, and a strong faith in God, he has been clean for over a year.

He and his father have put their family’s story together in a powerful video. Please welcome Ryan Hall and his father, Sheriff Kevin Hall, to the gallery.

Their story inspired my Grand Rounds lecture, but it also drove an important point home.

This crisis does not discriminate—it can affect anyone from your family members, to your friends, to your neighbors, even yourself. If you need help, or know someone who needs help, please know that we are here for you.

We’ve seen a slight drop in overdose deaths due to opioids, but we’ve also seen an increase in deaths from other drugs.

So we must continue the fight with this in mind: our real adversary is addiction, and addiction will always find another drug.

We still have work to do to make sure everyone has access to health care.

That means all health care, including reproductive care. I’m proposing that we put into the Code of Virginia that a woman has the fundamental right to make her own health care decisions.

By working together, we can do so much more to improve access and cost for all Virginians. It doesn’t matter what type of healthcare plan you have—healthcare costs are rising across the nation.

I am committed to working with you to address the root causes of these increasing costs. We can emphasize prevention, and work to evolve toward an outcome-based system, rather than a quantity-based system.

And we can use innovation and data collection and analysis to help us become a world leader in individualized health care, right here in Virginia.

We have already demonstrated that we have the capacity to act together to improve the health and wellbeing of our fellow Virginians—I am confident we can do it again this year.

I’m a parent. Many of us in here are parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. I think we can agree that we all want our children to grow up to be healthy, happy adults. That’s what every parent wants for their child.

Every child in Virginia should have the same chance to lead a safe, healthy, and successful adult life.

And if we agree that every child should have the chance to reach adulthood, then we need to consider what we can do to make our Commonwealth a safer place for our children to grow up.

We want to be sure that all school resource officers are well-trained, so I’m proposing that we ensure all school resource officers go through training approved by our Department of Criminal Justice Services.

Right now, only grant-funded resource officers go through that training.

I want to take a moment to recognize the Student Safety Work Group of the Children’s Cabinet for their hard work to develop recommendations on this important topic.  I would also like to acknowledge the hard work of leaders in both chambers, and in both parties, to address the many challenges our children face in their schools.

If we want every Virginian to have a chance at a healthy, safe, successful life then we need to have a conversation about responsible gun ownership.

I recognize that this is a topic where it has been difficult to have meaningful dialogue.

Dialogue, by its definition, is an exchange of ideas and opinions in order to resolve a problem. I hope we can all agree that we have a problem.

In 2017, 1,028 Virginians died of gun-related causes.

In comparison, that’s more deaths due to gun violence than the 956 Virginians who died due to vehicle accidents in 2017.

We have recognized that we have a problem with road safety and vehicle deaths—and we have acted together to prevent future ones.

My administration has launched the Executive Leadership Team on Highway Safety, and I know there is legislation this session, including efforts to strengthen our Move Over law, aimed at protecting our first responders.

If we are able to agree that we need to act when we have a problem with highway safety and preventable deaths, then surely we can agree to work together to keep more Virginians alive by improving gun safety.

As I said earlier, this has to be a dialogue—that’s a two-way exchange of ideas.

This year I’m proposing we act to approve an “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.

This idea has passed Republican legislatures in other states and been signed by Republican governors.

It shouldn’t be a partisan issue to make sure that weapons are not in the hands of people who pose a threat, especially when the threat is to their own safety or their family’s safety.

As we work to make our roads safer by focusing on driver behavior, we also need to be sure our roads themselves are as safe as possible.

Along I-81, from Winchester to Bristol, it’s becoming more difficult for traffic to flow steadily and safely.

While 81 is a major corridor for interstate travel, it’s also a heavily used local road.

Stretches of I-81 have become safety hazards, and accidents and delays also impact local commerce.

Businesses, residents, and officials along the corridor agree that I-81 needs significant improvements.

So I’m proposing to establish the I-81 Corridor Improvement Program.

This legislation will provide a dedicated funding source for I-81.

We all know that current resources are not adequate to the task of making I-81 a better, safer road. I’m happy to say that we’re working across the aisle, with legislators from both parties whose districts include I-81, to make this happen.

If we want to ensure that every Virginian has the same shot at economic opportunity, we need to position ourselves to respond to the growing reality of climate change.

These changes are having an impact on our communities and our economies, whether you are facing coastal flooding in Hampton Roads or storm effects in the Southside and the Southwest.

I have shared my budget proposals to make historic investments in the protection of our environment and our water quality. These proposals will lead to cleaner water and air for all Virginians, and they will also position us to create the next generation of energy jobs in solar, wind and other emerging technologies. Time is of the essence—the time to address these challenges is now.

Our farmers are working to do their part to support agricultural best practices and reduce runoff from their farms into the creeks nearby.

With us tonight in the gallery is Kendall Tyree, executive director of the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts and vice-chair of Virginia Forever.

Kendall, we thank you and the groups you work with for all the work you do on agricultural best management practices and natural resources issues.

We’re glad to support them in those efforts by doing our part to support pollution reduction efforts across the board. That’s why I proposed increased funding for programs to help reduce runoff and for our Stormwater Local Assistance Fund.

And this should be the session where we come together and require clean closure of coal ash ponds throughout our Bay watershed. These ponds are in Republican and Democratic districts, and Virginians don’t view them through political lenses—they want them closed cleanly and their waterways protected.

The environmental damage that Hurricane Florence caused in North Carolina showed us what will happen to these ponds if we don’t act now.

Tonight we have some good news from our criminal justice system to announce—for the third year in a row, our prison recidivism rate is the lowest in the country.

This is due to our re-entry programs and treatment offered by the Virginia Department of Corrections. Tonight our director of the Department of Corrections, Harold Clarke, is with us in the gallery.

I want to thank Harold for his department’s work to make sure that we do as much as possible to prepare people to leave our corrections system and rebuild their lives.

We want to keep people safe. But we shouldn’t use valuable law enforcement time, or costly prison space, on laws that don’t enhance public safety.

So I’m proposing that we decriminalize simple possession of marijuana.

Current law imposes a maximum 30 days in jail for a first offense of marijuana possession.

Making simple possession a civil penalty will ease overcrowding in our jails and prisons, and free up our law enforcement and court resources for offenses that are a true threat to public safety.

Moving forward on this front will have the same significance as our work together to increase the felony larceny threshold: one mistake won’t define Virginians for the rest of their lives.

We can continue our progress on criminal justice reform by ending the practice of suspending driver’s licenses over failure to pay court costs and fees, and by ending the suspension of licenses for non-driving offenses.

When we take away people’s driver’s licenses, we make it harder for them to get to work, and thus make it even more difficult for them to pay their court costs.

We shouldn’t be punishing people for being poor.

These simple reforms to our criminal justice system will make our Commonwealth a more fair and just place without threatening the safety of our communities. Let’s work together to pass them this session.

We have a chance this session to provide targeted tax relief to Virginians who aren’t seeing much help from the federal tax changes.

Our tax code should work for everyone—not just the highest earners. That’s only fair. But Washington is actually making these disparities worse.

In Virginia, we can work together to restore balance and fairness on the state level.

I’ve put a proposal on the table to respond to the federal tax changes by making our existing Earned Income Tax Credit refundable.

This credit already exists in our law, and it benefits middle-class workers—our teachers and law enforcement officers, our veterans, the folks working at restaurants and department stores and small businesses. Republicans and Democrats alike have supported this credit, because it works.

Over the course of the last year, we have had conversations about incentivizing Virginians to get back into the workforce—my proposal does exactly that, because you only get this credit if you work and pay taxes.

This is a chance for us to have a dialogue about making sure the system is fair for every Virginian. When corporate stockholders benefit but a teacher does not, that isn’t what I call a fair system.

That’s why I made this proposal—because I want our response to these tax changes to be fair to Virginians in every district, every community.

It’s clear that we need to conform our tax code to the federal code, because Virginians deserve a simplified process. After that, I’m open to a discussion about how we respond to these tax changes in a fair way. I’ve put my ideas on the table. My priorities remain ensuring that our tax changes are fair, that we put money into reserves and pay our bills, and that we invest in our priorities. I know others have ideas, and I look forward to having a dialogue about our priorities.

We must make sure that one good job is enough for a person to live on, and that hard-working Virginians in every locality and region benefit from our tax proposals.

This year, we will mark a significant anniversary of Virginia’s long history of representative democracy. This tradition stretches back 400 years, well before the birth of this nation.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on that long and complex history. The story of Virginia is rooted in the simultaneous pursuit of both liberty and enslavement.

As we approach the anniversary of the first representative General Assembly in the New World, we have a responsibility to confront this truth.

It obligates us to the full and true exercise of democracy. In this day and age, that means ensuring the elimination of unnecessary and prohibitive barriers to voting.

I’m proposing we finally allow no-excuse absentee voting.

If we are going to work together to ensure that every Virginian has equal opportunity for a successful life, that means enshrining equal rights for women and legal protections against discrimination in our laws. This is not a partisan issue, and legislators from both parties have long championed this idea. Virginia can be the 38th and final state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment this year—it’s time we do so.

A few weeks ago, I came before your money committees to talk about budget proposals.

I said then, and I’ll say to you all tonight, Virginia is in a good place.

Our economy is strong. Our unemployment is low.

We’re in a position to put money in savings, invest in priorities, and provide targeted tax relief to the middle-class Virginians who need it most.

I’m not going to pretend that there won’t be 140 campaigns to run after we adjourn here. But this isn’t Washington—we come to Richmond to do the people’s work, the way they expect us to do it.

And there’s a lot we can accomplish together.

I know that not everyone will agree with the ideas I’ve outlined tonight.

But I don’t believe the people of Virginia elected me to sit on the sidelines. They didn’t elect any of us for that.

But they did elect us to work together, to do the best we can for them.

And they elected us to be thoughtful about our work here. They want us to give true consideration to a variety of ideas. That’s the Virginia Way.

I hope that as we go through the next 46 days together, we give consideration to each other, and to our ideas. It can be tempting to retreat to our corners and shout at each other. But I believe we all have that internal moral compass, the one that guides us toward the right thing to do. I hope we all follow it this session.

We can come together, to ensure that we keep our economy strong in every corner of Virginia.

We can come together, to make sure that our children have the best chance possible to grow into healthy adults.

We can come together, to make sensible criminal justice reforms that will keep people who shouldn’t be in jail, out of jail.

We can come together, to ensure that Virginia, the home of the oldest representative body in the new world, is also the home of voting laws that put the voters’ needs first.

And we can come together to make sure that we’re building a Commonwealth of opportunity, where everyone has the tools they need to build good lives.

We can do all of this and a lot more.

I believe strongly that we often find what we’re looking for.

If we come here looking for gridlock and partisan battles, we will likely find those.

But if we look for what unites us, what gives us the best opportunity to get things done, we will find that.

We’re not going to agree on everything, but if we look for what we have in common, we’ll do better work for the people of Virginia.

I look forward to working with all of you to find our common ground.

Thank you for your willingness to serve our great Commonwealth.

May God bless all of you, and may God bless Virginia.

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