Northam maps out priorities with Democrats in control

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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ7) Governor Ralph Northam says the landscape has changed, after Democrats won the majority in both chambers of the General Assembly.

Wednesday morning, he talked about next steps, starting with gun legislation.

"I really believe we have a unique opportunity in the next two years. The landscape has changed."

On the morning after a decisive victory for Virginia Democrats, Northam sat down with members of his cabinet to discuss the administration's priorities in a new political era.

At the top of the list, what the governor described as common-sense gun legislation, eight measures including universal background checks and a ban on high capacity magazines.

The special session he called to consider those proposals ended abruptly in July, when Republicans voted to adjourn, but Northam expects a different result when the new majority takes over in January.

"They are pieces of legislation that will save lives in Virginia," Northam said. "They are also pieces of legislation that Virginians agree with, the great majority of them. And so we will at least start with those."

And gun legislation is likely just the beginning of a progressive agenda that could touch on many other high-profile issues.

"The bills will come out of committees," said Virginia Tech Professor and WDBJ7 Political Analyst Bob Denton. "They will absolutely be voted on, whether it's about abortions or guns or education or minimum wage, whatever the issue is."

"And it will be interesting to see which issues they prioritize," said Roanoke College Professor and WDBJ7 Political Analyst Harry Wilson, "what they really move forward with first or where they really put their energies."

The Speaker of the House, Republican Kirk Cox, acknowledged the Democrats' victory, but said voters will soon have the opportunity to judge elected leaders on their policies and results not just promises and campaign rhetoric.

He said Republicans will work with Democrats where they can, speak out against overreaching policies when they must and always seek to guard the best interests of the Commonwealth.

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