In my farewell speech to the House of Delegates last week I reflected on the changes that had occurred in Virginia during the 44 years I was honored to be a member. In addition I thought it important to share my thoughts about much that remains to be achieved. Following are excerpts from my speech stating my priorities as to what still needs to be done.
When we as Democrats reformed Virginia’s voting laws, making them some of the best in the country, Republicans under those new laws won the governorship and a majority in the House of Delegates. Why now do you seek to turn back the clock and make it harder to vote? Do you fear that you need to limit the electorate when you cannot win on the merits of your positions?
You railed for decades against Roe v Wade that was settled law on the difficult issue of abortion. You appear to be like the dog that chased cars until he caught one and then did not know what to do with it. Ducking, bobbing, and moving past the issue will not save you. Women’s reproductive rights need to be fully restored. Let me remind you that Virginia elected the first Black governor in the country not simply because he was the most capable of the candidates but because he was prochoice and the man he defeated was not.
How much longer can you as Republicans stay with the pro-gun advocates when the death toll from gun violence continues to escalate? More children die from gun violence than any other reason. I must tell you that it is a little pathetic to witness when well-researched commonsense bills to end gun violence are presented and there is no discussion but rather kowtowing to what the NRA and the Virginia Citizens Defense League lobbyists have to say. What do you say to your children and grandchildren to explain your vote against common sense gun safety laws? Do not try to put it off on the Second Amendment as if the Founding Fathers intended to protect this kind of gun violence in the Constitution.
These are especially challenging times in our schools. The number of children who need mental health assistance and the need to reduce anxiety among our youth is only getting worse. At the same time we are talking about taking more than a billion dollars in available revenue and dividing it up among the people who need it least. I think that kind of action is unconscionable!
We have ministers, rabbis, and religious leaders come in to give a prayer each day at the start of the session. Uniformly without reference to any particular religious doctrine they offer us direction on caring for the most vulnerable and needy in our society. Do we act any differently because of what they have to say? We have separation of church and state, but we should never separate legislating from morality and ethics.
The good old days were never as good as we sometimes make them out to have been. I am honored to have been part of making the days in Virginia ever better for all. I know that you as members of the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere will work to overcome prejudices, conspiracy theories, misinformation and lies to make Virginia a leader among the states.
To listen to my entire speech, go to https://www.facebook.com/kenneth.plum/videos/670005431487255