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RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today released the following statement upon the conclusion of the 2019 reconvened session.
The 2019 reconvened session was marked by historic legislative breakthroughs on issues including finalizing a dedicated source of revenue for Interstate 81 improvements, criminal justice reform to end the practice of suspending driver’s licenses over unpaid court costs and fees, a bond package to replace Central State Hospital, and increased support for the Housing Trust Fund.
“When Virginians send their leaders to Richmond, they expect us to deliver results that will make this Commonwealth work better for them and their families, no matter who they are or where they live. Before this session began, I called on legislators to look for areas of agreement in order to achieve those results. As my team and I prepare for our final review of the General Assembly’s actions, it is abundantly clear that we found common ground and made historic progress on many of the issues that have long demanded our attention.
“Our investment in transportation will mean stronger connections to opportunity for every Virginian. For too long, we have discussed action to make Interstate 81, a major transportation artery, safer and more reliable for all who travel on it and I am pleased we have finally arrived at a solution. This historic package will ensure $2 billion in improvements to this important corridor are implemented, while also generating critical revenue for interstates across the Commonwealth.
“We have taken another great step forward on criminal justice reform by eliminating the counterproductive practice of suspending driver’s licenses over unpaid court costs and fees, which currently impacts the daily lives of over 627,000 Virginians. This inequitable policy criminalizes poverty and a change was long overdue.
“We have acknowledged for years that Central State Hospital should be replaced with the kind of modern facility we want to have in the Commonwealth—I am pleased that this year, we decided to find the solution. Our efforts to increase the availability of affordable housing across the Commonwealth will be buoyed by the restoration of proposed funding to the Housing Trust Fund.
“At the start of this session, I laid out a vision for Virginia’s long-term success and I want to thank my colleagues in the General Assembly for their work to make progress on those priorities. Our focus on the areas where we can agree has yielded meaningful results for the people we serve.”
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