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Youngkin calls on lawmakers to enact 'vision of change'

Glenn Youngkin
Posted at 8:08 PM, Jan 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-17 23:28:15-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Gov. Glenn Youngkin is asking the divided Virginia General Assembly to work with him to enact his “sweeping vision of change” for the state.

“From the perspective of everyday Virginia families, times are tough, and the state of our Commonwealth is not what it should be,” Youngkin said during his first joint address to the General Assembly, which is similar to a state of the Commonwealth speech.

In his first joint address Monday to the Democrat-controlled Senate and GOP-controlled House, the governor reiterated many of his campaign pledges while offering some new specifics. He avoided certain issues such as firearms and abortion policy altogether.

The Governor called this moment a “tipping point” and said Virginians more than ever feel distrust and disconnect with their government in Richmond.

“They see declining schools, they see violent crime reports dominating the news, they see record low labor participation, they see small businesses struggling, and they see government failures and encroachments on their liberties,” Youngkin, the first Republican Governor in Virginia in eight years, said Monday.

Included in his remarks, which lasted nearly an hour, were references to his first actions while in power following the inauguration. Youngkin signed 11 executive orders and directives Saturday afternoon.

Among them, orders that launch an investigation into actions taken by the past parole board, who have been fired or resigned, another that aim to give parents the ability to “opt-out” their children from public school mask requirements, and yet another that works to block certain topics from public school curricula.

“An executive order formalizing that we should not use inherently divisive concepts like critical race theory in Virginia. And why we should not be teaching our children to see everything through the lens of race,” Youngkin said.

Critical race theory is defined as an academic study that analyzes how race has influenced societal, economic, and judicial policy throughout American history. It became a hotly debated issue during the campaign last year.

Senate Democrats signaled continued disagreement with many of the governor’s priorities and said the political newcomer was not showing the type of bipartisanship he was asking for.

They specifically pointed to a slew of first-day executive orders Youngkin issued that many Democrats have criticized as excessively partisan.

“Critical Race Theory is not taught in any public school in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It’s taught in colleges,” said Sen. Mamie Locke (D-Hampton). “If you’re going to stand there and say we’re going to teach the good the bad and ugly of Virginia history, and then sign an executive order saying we’re going to ban critical race theory, you’re being a hypocrite.”

Senate Democrats hold a slim majority and said they do think they can find common ground with Youngkin on issues like raising teacher or law enforcement pay, items they said they addressed in past sessions.

“Wherever there is common ground, we’re going to do it,” Locke said.

During his address, Youngkin did receive cheers from both sides of the aisle when promising to stop the dumping of sewage into the James River and protect Virginia’s natural beauty. The Governor also spoke directly to the 1.6 million Virginians who are still not vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Speaking to you as your Governor, I’ll never tell you what you must do. But speaking to you as a friend and a neighbor I strongly encourage you to get the vaccine,” Youngkin said.

You can read Yougnkin’s remarks as prepared here.

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