Virginia Democrats Get to Work After Taking Control of Statehouse

Virginia Democrats are already working on their agenda after gaining control of the General Assembly in Tuesday’s election. Legislation blocked by Republicans in the past might now move forward.

In February, the General Assembly refused to take a vote on the Equal Rights Amendment to the disgust of Air Force veteran and ERA supporter Daphne Portis.

“As an ERA supporter, I am just ecstatic about the results from tonight’s election,” Portis said at the Democrats’ victory party Tuesday night.

She is convinced the new Democratic majority will be able to pass the ERA next session. Gov. Ralph Northam promised that much as he talked about the agenda the Democrats will pursue.

“That’s something that never really made it to the floor for a vote, and I think it’s one of those things, like a lot of these pieces of legislation, if we get it to the floor and let people vote, then it will become law, and so Virginia will be next in line to pass the ERA,” he said.

Democrats say the issue of gun violence in particular drove voter turnout and led to their success. They say voters were angered in July when Republicans shut down a special session called after the Virginia Beach Massacre.

Northam promises gun legislation will be top priority when the General Assembly reconvenes in January. Democrats will seek passage of universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and a return to a one gun per month purchase limit.

Democrats also hope to raise the minimum wage and work toward marijuana decriminalization.

“Just very excited, and I think the Virginians have spoken, and we’re looking forward to begin governing starting immediately,” said Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax County), who is running for House speaker.

Del. Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) is also seeking a top spot.

“We’re ready to move forward so that in January, when that gavel falls, we’re ready to govern,” she said.

House Democrats will elect their new leaders Saturday.

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