NORFOLK, Va. - With Democrats now in the majority in the General Assembly and in the Governor's Mansion, party leaders laid out their agenda on Tuesday morning inside the State Capitol in Richmond. Wednesday marks the start of the session.
The issue continuing to get the most attention is guns. On Monday night, Virginia Beach City Council members voted 6-4 to become a Second Amendment constitutional city. Second Amendment advocates continue to be worried about legislation introduced in Richmond.
Gov. Ralph Northam said all laws passed will be constitutional. "We have no intention of calling out the National Guard. We're not going to cut off people's electricity. We're not going to go door-to-door and confiscate individual's weapons," Northam said Tuesday.
Other policy goals for Democrats include passing the Equal Rights Amendment, raising the minimum wage and overturning women's health laws passed when Republicans held majorities. "We will overturn laws that restrict women's rights to decide their own healthcare," said Northam.
While not laid out in their policy goals, casino gaming is also a key issue that will be debated during the session. Both Norfolk and Portsmouth have their eyes set on building casinos in their cities, but lawmakers need to pass legislation allowing casino gambling. The proposed legislation would require local voters to approve casinos in their cities in referendums.
Several issues have to be worked out for casino gaming to happen, including deciding on the tax rate for casinos and determining who would oversee the casino industry.
In addition, Attorney General Mark Herring hopes lawmakers will pass his hate crime legislation.