RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — After a bill aimed to stop public school boards from imposing mask mandates passed both houses of the state legislature Monday, Governor Glenn Youngkin said he would amend the measure in order to give it immediate effect.
Youngkin, now one month on the job, told Republican leadership he looked forward to signing the bill after passing the GOP-controlled House of Delegates on party lines.
But in order for the bill to go into effect immediately, the governor must first add an emergency clause and send the measure back to the General Assembly. If both houses of the legislature approve the amended bill, Youngkin’s signature must follow.
Hours after the bill progressed to Youngkin’s desk 8News asked the governor when he planned to add this emergency clause.
“We will work on that this evening and tomorrow morning, and send it back to the general assembly tomorrow morning with an emergency clause, and then the house and senate have to do their thing and send it back to me,” Youngkin said during an appearance outside of Richmond’s Fox Elementary School.
The governor added he is hopeful to sign the bill to end school mask mandates some time this week. If the house and senate give approval to the bill with the emergency clause, it is entirely possible that Youngkin could make the bill law as soon as Tuesday.
Democrats remained defiant Monday before their caucus lost to the Republican majority in the House of Delegates.
“We are not in a position now or ever to predict the future or to take tools away from local communities,” Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) said.
Despite the rift in the House of Delegates, the measure received bipartisan support in the Democrat-controlled Senate last week.
Some parents remain skeptical of an end to school mask mandates, particularly those of immunocompromised students — 8News also pressed the governor on this.
“What I encourage everyone to do is, if you would like to wear a mask, please wear one. And, In fact, I think there’s masks available, and if there’s not then we’re happy to help. And, I think this is a moment for parents making the best decision for each one of their children,” Youngkin said.
While the governor encouraged anyone to wear a mask, face coverings help prevent the spread of disease and not just protect people from getting sick.
Questions linger on the legality of whether the bill can go into effect right away. Virginia Code says a bill needs a four fifths majority vote before an emergency amendment can be added, and sent back to the legislature for immediate effect.
The votes in the House and Senate failed to reach this threshold. However, recent precedent in 2020 undercut this process.