Guns, minimum wage among priorities outlined in Gov. Northam’s State of the Commonwealth address

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam delivered his second State of the Commonwealth address on Wednesday night, outlining what he would like to see during the new General Assembly session.

Among priorities were stricter gun laws with a focus on safety.

“If you have demonstrated extreme risk of violence or there is a protective order against you, you shouldn’t have a firearm,” Northam said.

He said, during the address, that he wants future laws regarding gun legislation to include “common-sense” gun safety that he says “does not violate the Second Amendment” with input from both sides of the aisle.

“No one is calling out the National Guard. No one is cutting off your electricity, or turning off the internet. No one is going door-to-door to confiscate guns. These laws are intended to keep Virginians safe. Period. It’s time to act,” Northam said.

Another focus was unemployment and the minimum wage.

Northam noted that Virginia has one of the country’s lowest unemployment rates at 2.6%. He cited Amazon coming to Northern Virginia with the goal of eventually employing 25,000 people and Morgan Olsen creating 700 manufacturing jobs in Danvill-Pittsylania County in helping create area jobs.

However, he said that a low unemployment rate doesn’t always mean that workers with jobs can necessarily survive on the wages they earn, which leads to a focus on raising the minimum wage in the next legislative session.

“The people who are building our economy should benefit from it too. The companies that recognize this will get ahead. So let’s work together to raise the minimum wage,” Northam said.

Additional focuses during the address included making Election Day a holiday by getting rid of Lee-Jackson Day, which he says commemorates a lost cause.

He also wants to push for decriminalizing marijuana possession and increase spending on public schools.

Additionally, during his address, Northam took time to make a historic change in the legislature.

“Tonight, after 400 years, the first women are leading this joint assembly. Let’s all congratulate them.”

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Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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