Is it another sign that after the better part of 1,000 days, COVID fatigue is a bipartisan phenomenon?
Or is common sense returning to the General Assembly? Either way, Gov. Glenn Youngkin is on the cusp of a decisive victory, provided state Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) stays true to his word, regarding Youngkin’s executive order allowing parents to opt their children out of school mask mandates. (Hot Air)
But there’s a problem. Last year Virginia passed a law requiring schools to follow CDC guidance on COVID control to the maximum extent practicable. The CDC currently recommends masking in schools, of course. And insofar as a duly enacted statute and an executive order conflict, the statute should control legally. That presents a question for the state supreme court: Does Youngkin’s order conflict with the statute, which would nullify it, or can it be reconciled with it? If schools are obliged by law to set rules in accordance with CDC recommendations, is there any room for parental choice in that framework?
As of now, the uncertainty has led to a burgeoning rebellion by public school officials who believe Youngkin’s order is illegal.
But there’s a way to resolve that ambiguity that doesn’t involve the courts. The Virginia legislature could simply repeal or amend last year’s law to make masking optional — if it can find the votes, which, it appeared, it couldn’t. Republicans hold the governor’s office, of course, and a majority in the lower house of the state legislature. But Democrats enjoy a 21-19 advantage in the state senate. That means the GOP is blocked…
However, if Petersen sides with Republicans that would produce a 20-20 tie that Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears could break.
And there are promising signs, as the Daily Wire explains:
On Monday, Chap Petersen, a moderate Democrat who joined with Republicans to force school re-opening last year, said in an email to the Fairfax County Parents Association that Fairfax’s school board “must define an ‘off ramp’ for mandatory masking. That means plainly stated metrics as well as a final deadline (e.g. Valentine’s Day). They should announce that immediately. The forced masking policy is going to end very soon, i.e. in a few weeks. Otherwise, the General Assembly will again step in. IT IS NOT AN ACCEPTABLE LONG-TERM SOLUTION.”
Bottom line: if Petersen holds firm then the governor is on the verge of asserting his authority without having to make any compromises.