Del. Sally Hudson addresses education legislation in mid-legislative session town hall

Published: Feb. 16, 2022 at 9:40 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - As legislative action in Richmond is moving along at a rapid pace, Del. Sally Hudson, a Democrat who represents Charlottesville and part of Albemarle County, held a virtual town hall to discuss key issues.

Hudson said it’s been quite a “breakneck sprint” in Richmond. At the midway point of the session, she answered questions from constituents.

The town hall came on the same day Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin got a win, as he signed into law a bill that would end mask mandates in public schools.

“We are reaffirming the right all parents have,” he said, “the fundamental rights to make decisions for your children.”

School districts have two weeks to comply, and while both Charlottesville and Albemarle County have said they will, their delegate, Hudson, is disappointed with the law.

“I had hoped that ability to try to contain the spread of the infections would continue to be the authority of those local school boards,” she said.

During the town hall, there were plenty of questions about education and that new law, one she said may face legal challenges. She said she’s heard calls for potential plaintiffs, possibly from “especially vulnerable children.”

“If a school can’t stay open in a way that is healthy and safe for all the kids, then it is a potentially a violation of their rights to a free public education,” she said.

Meanwhile, Hudson discussed another major legislative priority: a bill that would allow cities and counties to pass a special sales tax to raise money for school construction. That bill was killed in a House subcommittee, but now has another chance since the Senate passed a version.

“Because that measure had to do with raising taxes, it really didn’t have much appetite from some of the members who currently control the house,” Hudson said.

The delegate said she’s cautiously optimistic about its fate and shared a message for her Republican colleagues.

“Republicans have other priorities for what they want to do with the state budget besides funding school construction,” Hudson said. “If they’re not going to put a lot of state money into school construction and renovation, then they kind of need to get out of the way of localities who are willing to raise it themselves.”

Hudson said that some education bills passed in the house, like the ones about banning divisive teaching concepts or requiring school resource officers, are “dead on arrival” in the Democratic Senate. But she did say that some measures, like the scaling back of some Ralph Northam-era environmental regulations, may take some convincing for Democrats to block.

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