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Dem Govs Get It Done: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam Enacts Sweeping Progressive Reforms

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Over the weekend, Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam used his Democratic majority to sign into law sweeping progressive measures to improve Virginians’ quality of life. The new laws include increased access to voting, a commitment to renewable energy, criminal justice reform, improved gun safety, a ban on discriminatory practices against LGBTQ individuals, and the removal of barriers to reproductive health.
Gov. Northam’s historic reforms make Virginia the first southern state to have a 100 percent clean energy standard and to enact comprehensive protections for LGBTQ individuals.
Read more about Gov. Northam’s new legislation below:
The Guardian: Virginia governor’s slew of bills heralds progressive new direction for state
Virginia governor Ralph Northam has signed into law new measures on gun control and abortion rights and outlawing discrimination on grounds of sexuality and gender identity, establishing a progressive new direction for a traditionally conservative state where Democrats won the legislature in November for the first time in almost 25 years.
In a Good Friday signing spree, Northam swept away a requirement for those seeking abortions to wait 24 hours, and tightened firearms restrictions to include background checks and limits on purchases.
“We lose too many Virginians to gun violence, and it is past time we took bold, meaningful action to keep our communities safer,” the governor said in a statement. “These common sense laws will save lives.”
HuffPost: Virginia Makes Election Day A Holiday In Wave Of New Voting Rights Laws
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced Sunday that he has signed into law several measures meant to expand voting rights, including making Election Day a state holiday.
In addition to the holiday law, legislation Northam signed expands access to early voting, repeals Virginia’s strict voter ID law and adopts automatic voter registration.
“Voting is a fundamental right, and these new laws strengthen our democracy by making it easier to cast a ballot, not harder,” Northam said in a statement. “No matter who you are or where you live in Virginia, your voice deserves to be heard. I’m proud to sign these bills into law.”
CNN: Virginia governor makes Election Day a holiday and expands early voting
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Sunday that he signed a series of new measures into law aimed at expanding access to voting in the commonwealth.
The new legislation will establish Election Day as a holiday, remove the requirement that voters show a photo ID prior to casting a ballot and, expand early voting to be allowed 45 days before an election without a stated reason.
“Voting is a fundamental right, and these new laws strengthen our democracy by making it easier to cast a ballot, not harder,” Northam said in a statement. “No matter who you are or where you live in Virginia, your voice deserves to be heard. I’m proud to sign these bills into law.”
USA Today: Virginia Gov. Northam signs host of gun control bills into law months after Richmond rally
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed a slate of gun control measures into law Friday that will increase background checks, limit handgun purchases and establish a so-called “red flag” law.
The signing comes almost three months after more than 20,000 gun owners descended on the state capitol in Richmond to protest the measures. It’s also been almost a year since the deadly Virginia Beach shooting left 12 people dead plus the shooter at a municipal building.
“We lose too many Virginians to gun violence, and it is past time we took bold, meaningful action to make our communities safer,” Northam said in a statement Friday. “I was proud to work with legislators and advocates on these measures, and I am proud to sign them into law. These common-sense laws will save lives.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch: Northam signs sweeping measures on environment, voting, criminal justice
Gov. Ralph Northam announced Sunday that he has signed far-reaching legislation to spur renewable energy, ease access to voting and to enact criminal justice reforms.
Northam’s actions on the Virginia Clean Economy Act, the voting bills and criminal justice measures underscore the political transformation in Virginia since Democrats won control of the General Assembly in the 2019 legislative elections. Northam signed a number of bills that Democrats had proposed for years but that were defeated when Republicans controlled the legislature.
For example, Northam said he has signed measures to repeal the photo ID requirement for voting, to make Election Day a state holiday — canceling the century-old holiday honoring Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson — and to allow no-excuse absentee voting.
Richmond Times-Dispatch: Northam signs bills to roll back abortion restrictions
Gov. Ralph Northam has signed bills to roll back restrictions on abortion.
“No more will legislators in Richmond — most of whom are men — be telling women what they should and should not be doing with their bodies,” Northam said in a statement. “The Reproductive Health Protection Act will make women and families safer, and I’m proud to sign it into law.”
The measures repeal the state’s mandatory ultrasound law and 24-hour waiting period prior to abortion. They also roll back regulations signed in 2012 by then-Gov. Bob McDonnell, which opponents called TRAP legislation — or “targeted regulation of abortion providers.”
WAVY: Northam signs energy efficiency law, Virginia first southern state with 100% clean energy standard
Governor Northam is continuing efforts to make Virginia an energy-efficient state as he signed a bill Sunday making the Commonwealth the first southern state to transition to clean energy by 2050.
The governor signed the Virginia Clean Economy Act that commits to providing 100% carbon-free electricity by removing harmful carbon emissions and obtaining clean energy from renewable sources such as solar or wind generation. 
Northam announced he is also amending the Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act that requires Virginia to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative which is the first U.S. mandatory market-based program to limit carbon dioxide from power plants.  
WRIC: Gov. Northam signs Virginia Values Act, providing anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people
Governor Ralph Northam put pen to paper in making Virginia the first state in the South to enact comprehensive protections for the LGBTQ community.
Today, Governor Northam announced he has signed the Virginia Values Act, protecting the LGBTQ community against discrimination in housing, employment, public spaces, and credit applications.
“This legislation sends a strong, clear message—Virginia is a place where all people are welcome to live, work, visit, and raise a family,” said Governor Northam. “We are building an inclusive Commonwealth where there is opportunity for everyone, and everyone is treated fairly. No longer will LGBTQ Virginians have to fear being fired, evicted, or denied service in public places because of who they are.”
WJLA: Governor Northam signs criminal justice reform bills, proposes decriminalizing marijuana
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed several bills Sunday that included criminal justice reform legislation and a proposed amendment which would decriminalize the simple possession of marijuana, according to his website.
The decriminalization of marijuana is included as an amendment in House Bill 972. It proposes the decriminalizing of the simple possession of marijuana, creating a $25 civil penalty fee. The bill would also seal the records and convictions and prohibits employers from looking into past convictions. It also sets out to include a workgroup to study the overall impact of the legalization of marijuana, which Northam says he would require a report from by November 30, 2021.