Youngkin tells the AP that he sees momentum on the legislative agenda

Democrats in the Virginia Senate voted against about 20 priorities of Gov. Glen Yangkin at this year’s General Assembly, but the recently inaugurated Republican remains optimistic about his difficult agenda.

Richmond, Virginia (AP) – Democrats in the Virginia Senate voted against about 20 priorities of Gov. Glen Yangkin at this year’s General Assembly, but the recently inaugurated Republican remains optimistic about his significant agenda.

Yangkin won a major victory this week with bipartisan legislation to abolish school mask requirements, and in an interview with he stressed that because bills on education, tax cuts and labor laws released the Republican-controlled House to the legislative medium term, there is still time to find compromises.

“I think we’ve got a lot of momentum on our agenda,” he said.

A political newcomer and former head of private equity who took office just over a month ago, Yangkin appealed to lawmakers on both sides through phone calls, dinners, receptions and other meetings, while developing a very specific legislative program that included his key campaign promises. .

Youngkin won one of his biggest victories to date when several Senate Democrats joined Republicans to allow students to relinquish seats in school masks beginning March 1. .

The measure was finally taken on Wednesday, at a time when COVID-19 cases are declining, but the federal government continues to recommend universal camouflage in schools.

“We have been working on this for a year and give parents the opportunity to make decisions for their children. And it’s a big win for Virginia, ”said Youngkin, whose victory has been widely attributed to his ability to take advantage of parental frustration over curricula and school closures.

The Senate looked less favorably on other key items on its agenda, including an attempt to eradicate what Republicans called a critical theory of race in public schools. The Senate committee has repealed legislation that would codify the ban on “essentially divisive concepts” that portray one race, gender, or religious denomination as inherently superior or teach that a person is inherently racist because of skin color.

Yangkin has issued an order instructing the Department of Education to study critical race theory at the administrative level, and the version of the House of Representatives legislation on CRT is still alive. But after returning to the Senate, he faces poor prospects, where Democratic leaders have said they are not very interested in revising the governor’s priorities, which they have already won in this session.

Senator Louise Lucas, who heads the Education Committee, which has rejected many of Yangkin’s bills on schools and often throws them at the governor on Twitter, told the AP: “We will do the same if the bills come from the House of Representatives. This is normal for the course. “

“They will be voted for here,” agreed Caucasus Chair Mamie Locke.

In a press release Tuesday, the Senate highlighted the defeat of Yangkin’s priorities, including efforts to build more statutory schools. But the chamber has passed compromise legislation on the concept – Yangkin’s proposals for “laboratory schools” in which colleges and universities cooperate with K-12 school systems.

The Chamber also agreed with the requirement for schools to develop parental notification plans when students are assigned sexual materials. A similar law was also passed by the Chamber.

On other topics, the Senate rejected legislation that would provide for the placement of law enforcement officers in each school.

Yangkin’s other priority – ending collective bargaining for some public sector workers – was rejected by one committee and another by a 20-week ban on abortion. The measure was not on the governor’s official priority list, but Republican Sen. Amanda Chase, her sponsor, said the administration had told her that Youngkin would sign it if it was adopted.

Yangkin also wants a wide range of tax cuts, he said, to benefit working people. So far, senators have agreed on a bipartisan basis with a more limited set, including a partial abolition of the product sales tax. The committee also decided not to promote its proposal to double the standard deduction, instead sending it for further study.

Youngkin also seems to have lost the fight to the Senate to get confirmation from Andrew Wheeler, a former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of the Trump administration, in the cabinet.

Democrats asked Youngkin to move on after the House rejected Wheeler, whose appointment provoked an unfriendly reaction from environmental groups and former EPA staff, in a party vote. Fallout, meanwhile, has spread to other destinations.

Youngkin did not name names, but said in an interview that some Democrats told him they could not vote for Wheeler for political reasons, despite his qualifications.

“I think I was chosen precisely because people feel they can’t do what’s right.

The governor, who could ask Wheeler to serve in his administration in another position that does not require legislative approval, said he still hopes the Senate will reconsider.

The regular part-time session of the Virginia legislature will run until March 12 this year. In April, friends will meet again to consider any amendments proposed by Yangkin.

For the rest of his time, Yangkin – who also has a veto – said his administration would meet with leadership from the House of Representatives and the Senate to “see what we can do together.”

“This legislative process is what I find incredibly encouraging,” he said. “I’m inspired by that.”

Locke, who has served in the Senate since 2004, laughed, welcoming the governor’s sunny look.

“I’m glad he’s optimistic,” she said.

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Associated Press writer Denise Lavoie contributed to this report from Richmond.

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