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

Charlottesville, Virginia (WVIR) – As legislative action in Richmond moves at a rapid pace, Del. Sally Hudson, a Democrat representing Charlottesville and part of Albemarle County, held a virtual town hall to discuss key issues.

Hudson said it was a pretty “crazy sprint” in Richmond. In the middle of the meeting, she answered questions from voters.

City Hall appeared the same day that Republican Gov. Glen Yangkin won by signing a bill that would terminate mask mandates in public schools.

“We reaffirm the right of all parents,” he said, “to have fundamental rights to make decisions for their children.”

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

“I hoped that the ability to curb the spread of infections would remain the responsibility of local school boards,” she said.

During the town hall there were many questions about education and the new law, which, she said, could face legal problems. She said she had heard appeals to potential plaintiffs, possibly from “particularly vulnerable children.”

“If a school cannot remain open in a way that is healthy and safe for all children, it potentially violates their rights to free public education,” she said.

Meanwhile, Hudson discussed another important legislative priority: a bill that would allow cities and counties to adopt a special sales tax to raise money to build schools. This bill was killed in a subcommittee of the House of Representatives, but now it has another chance as the Senate adopts the version.

“Because this measure was due to tax increases, it really didn’t have much of an appetite on the part of some members who currently control the house,” Hudson said.

The delegate said she looked at his fate with cautious optimism and shared a message for her Republican counterparts.

“Republicans have other priorities in what they want to do with the state budget besides funding school construction,” Hudson said. “If they are not going to invest big public money in the construction and reconstruction of schools, then they kind of need to get off the road to settlements that are ready to raise them themselves.”

Hudson said some education bills passed in the house, such as banning teaching concepts that separate or requiring school officers to be “dead on arrival” to the Democratic Senate. But she said some measures, such as cutting some environmental rules of the Ralph Nortem era, could persuade Democrats to block.

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