Physicians need to think more innovatively about the ways we treat acute and chronic pain. [One] high school football [athlete broke his leg and] was rushed to the hospital and started on dilaudid for his pain. He was prescribed other narcotics and became addicted. When his prescriptions ran out, he turned to heroin, and then fentanyl. To support his addiction and to avoid the symptoms of being dopesick, he took actions that led to run-ins with the law. Eventually he spent 18 months in jail.
With medically assisted treatment and counseling, the support of his family, and a strong faith in God, he has been clean for over a year. He and his father have put their family's story together in a powerful video. Please welcome Ryan Hall and his father, Sheriff Kevin Hall, to the gallery.
We want to keep people safe. But we shouldn't use valuable law enforcement time, or costly prison space, on laws that don't enhance public safety. So I'm proposing that we decriminalize simple possession of marijuana.
Current law imposes a maximum 30 days in jail for a first offense of marijuana possession. Making simple possession a civil penalty will ease overcrowding in our jails and prisons, and free up our law enforcement and court resources for offenses that are a true threat to public safety.
Moving forward on this front will have the same significance as our work together to increase the felony larceny threshold: one mistake won't define Virginians for the rest of their lives.
Raising teacher pay is only part of the puzzle when it comes to making sure that every Virginia student is able to reach their full potential. Schools, educational leaders, and parents across the Commonwealth have been clear that students need a variety of services to succeed in the classroom.
That's why I've proposed to fund more positions for school counselors statewide, and additional flexible funding so that school divisions can make their own decisions about which services will most benefit their students.
We're working with the Virginia Community College System to reframe their programming, so that students can get the skills they need on the front end for 21st century jobs. Our training certificate programs and our higher education system need to work hand in hand. And they need to be affordable.
Expensive tuition and high student debt can close the door to opportunity for too many people. My budget would offer more tuition assistance, and requires our institutions to create tuition predictability plans.
It is high time we began regulating the companies that service our student loans. While people may not be able to avoid taking on debt to get an education, they should be able to count on basic consumer protections.
In comparison, that's more deaths due to gun violence than the 956 Virginians who died due to vehicle accidents in 2017.
We have recognized that we have a problem with road safety and vehicle deaths--and we have acted together to prevent future ones [such as] the Executive Leadership Team on Highway Safety, and efforts to strengthen our Move Over law, aimed at protecting our first responders.
If we are able to agree that we need to act when we have a problem with highway safety and preventable deaths, then surely we can agree to work together to keep more Virginians alive by improving gun safety. This has to be a dialogue--that's a two-way exchange of ideas.
This year I'm proposing we act to approve an "extreme risk law." It creates a legal way for law enforcement and the courts to temporarily remove firearms from someone who has shown dangerous behavior, and who poses a risk to themselves or others.
As we've learned from economic development projects, including the Amazon headquarters, good jobs come to states and communities whose workers are ready for high tech jobs.
That is why our administration is proud to partner with legislative leaders of both parties in proposing a Tech Talent Investment Fund, which will offer grants to our higher education institutions to help them provide more computer science degrees. Our goal is to produce up to 17,500 more bachelor's degrees in computer science over the next 20 years. This is an investment in our people and our future.
Until we come together to ensure universal broadband access, we are keeping opportunity out of reach for entire communities in Virginia.
When a community doesn't have reliable Internet access, it can't attract businesses, support its home-grown entrepreneurs, keep its students up to date, or use telehealth to keep people healthy.
The ability to get online anywhere--that's what makes a Commonwealth of opportunity.
Weeks ago, I shared an ambitious budget proposal to speed up our progress and achieve universal broadband access within the next few years. This is probably the number one issue I hear from Virginians as I travel around the state, and the number one issue I hear from legislators--both Republicans and Democrats.
The above quotations are from 2019 Governor's State of the State speeches.
Click here for other excerpts from 2019 Governor's State of the State speeches.
Click here for other excerpts by Ralph Northam.
Click here for other excerpts by other Governors.
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