Republicans Respond to Northam’s State of the Commonwealth Address

On the first day of the legislative session, Republican and Democratic leaders laid out dramatically different visions for Virginia, offering a glimpse into some of the highest-profile policy debates likely to dominate the agenda for the General Assembly, as it enters its 400th year. During the annual State of the Commonwealth address, Democratic Governor Ralph Northam laid out a list of liberal priorities, urging lawmakers to back his proposals for higher spending, strict gun control, repealing Virginia’s voter ID law, and establishing what he called a “fundamental right” to abortion. Republicans, however, took a different approach. In a joint response from the House and Senate GOP, Delegate Bob Thomas (R-Stafford) and Senator Steve Newman (R-Bedford) emphasized tax relief, bringing down high health care costs, and implementing the recommendations of the House Select Committee on School Safety. “ We plan to reduce the cost of health care for Virginia families struggling to afford higher insurance premiums,” said Newman, who chairs the Senate’s committee on Education and Health. “Virginians have endured skyrocketing skyrocketing out-of-pocket expenses that have accompanied the Affordable Care Act passed during the Obama administration. Too many Virginians find they simply can’t afford the premiums today.” Newman said Republicans planned to introduce legislation aimed at lowering health care costs, including legislation expanding affordable group coverage, as well as bills allowing patients to purchase catastrophic or short-term coverage with more affordable premiums. A number of these measures passed the General Assembly last year, only to be vetoed by Governor Northam, […]

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