VPM News: Photo Year-in-Review Day One
As this momentous year comes to a close, VPM News is looking back at our top stories and photos of 2020 for our first ‘year in review’ series. Please check back every day this week to see some of our best photos from Crixell Matthews, Craig Carper and Alex Scribner.
It may be hard to recall it as 2020 comes to a close, but last year at this time we were all preparing for a historic legislative session. For the first time since 1994, Democrats had control of the state legislature, and were proposing action on gun safety, education spending, the Equal Rights Amendment, and other progressive policies.
Just as citizens were preparing to lobby legislators and advocate for - or against - these shifts, the VPM News team was preparing for long days covering the legislature. It was hard to whittle down the list, but here are the photos we took that stood out as the most memorable.
Democrats assembled for a group photo celebrating their big election wins in 2019, which included a record number of women. Ben Paviour reported on the diverse group's big promises to act on climate change, gun control, and worker protections.
Del. Eileen Filler-Corn became the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House for Virginia's legislature.
The Equal Rights Amendment was passed in January, ending a decades-long effort to guarantee women equal protections in the U.S. Constitution. Del. Jennifer Caroll Foy (D-Prince William), who sponsored the effort, hugged supporters after her legislative victory. Sara McCloskey, Whittney Evans, and Megan Pauly reported on the historic moment.
Chambers were packed with supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Democrats had significant traction on one of their top priorities: Gun control and safety legislation. On bills mandating background checks for everyone who buys a gun to laws that would let localities set their own gun measures, Republicans offered strong push back. Craig Carper reported on the party-line passage of the new measures last January. Here, Todd Pillion (R-Abingdon) covers his face as Democratic gun control bills pass.
Anxieties were high in advance of “Lobby Day,” when citizens come to the capitol to lobby their elected officials. Although the Virginia Citizens Defense League typically organizes a rally that day, tensions were higher after threats were issued against Democratic lawmakers over new gun regulations passed. The grounds were partially closed with fencing leading up to the event, which saw over 20,000 in attendance.
Gov. Ralph Northam gave his state of the commonwealth address to kick-off the 2020 legislative session. At the time, he was optimistic; the state economy was strong, his party was in control of the legislature, and there was no pandemic.