Critics challenge Youngkin’s executive actions

Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 7:40 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - With a divided General Assembly, Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin is taking action to advance many of his policy goals. But some of his moves are generating pushback from Democrats, who say he is overstepping his authority and defying state law.

During recent rallies in Roanoke and other cities, protesters said the Governor does not have the authority to pull out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) without the approval of the General Assembly.

And that’s not the only issue, says Democratic State Senator Scott Surovell (District 36), in which Youngkin is defying existing laws.

There is a number of recent examples, Democrats argue, including the governor’s decision to pull out of RGGI, the administration’s plan to allow private colleges to receive funding for laboratory schools and the policy on transgender students released late last week.

“The Governor is not the CEO. He’s not the CEO of Virginia,” Surovell told WDBJ7 in an interview. “He’s the head of one branch of government, and if you want to change the rules, you have to put in a bill. It has to pass both chambers and then you get to sign it, and then it becomes the law, but you don’t just get to ignore laws you don’t like or interpret laws in ways that are completely inconsistent with how the law is written.”

Representatives of the Youngkin administration maintain that with RGGI, and the other issues in dispute, the Governor and his aides are acting within their authority.

Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter issued the following statement on the policy that will apply to transgender students:

“The 2022 model policy posted delivers on the governor’s commitment to preserving parental rights and upholding the dignity and respect of all public school students. It is not under a school’s or the government’s purview to impose a set of particular ideological beliefs on all students. Key decisions rest, first and foremost, with the parents. The previous policies implemented under the Northam Administration did not uphold constitutional principles and parental rights, and will be replaced.”

We hoped to hear from the Governor or another representative of his administration, but were unable to arrange an interview Monday.