RICHMOND, Va. — Less than a day into his tenure, Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-Va.) signed 11 executive actions - most of which have to do with controlling what's taught in schools and easing COVID-19 safety measures.
Two of the executive orders signed by Youngkin allow Attorney General Jason Miyares to open investigations into Loudoun County Public Schools and the Virginia Parole Board.
And a directive from the new governor also rescinds the COVID-19 requirements for state employees, citing what he called a promised return to individual freedoms and personal privacy.
Here's a look at the actions Youngkin took:
YOUNGKIN EXECUTIVE ORDERS
- The first order aims to stop schools from teaching "divisive concepts" and it bans critical race theory, which there is no evidence is taught in Virginia Public Schools. Critical race theory is a way of thinking about America’s history through the lens of racism. Scholars developed it during the 1970s and 1980s in response to what they viewed as a lack of racial progress following the civil rights legislation of the 1960s. It centers on the idea that racism is systemic in the nation's institutions and that they function to maintain the dominance of white people in society. | Read the full text of the order here.
- The second order makes mask-wearing optional in schools - empowering parents to decide whether children should wear masks. This also orders the superintendent of Virginia's public schools to issue new COVID-19 guidance consistent with the order. Several Northern Virginia districts, including Arlington, Fairfax and Prince William County, said they will continue on with mask requirements. | Read the full text here.
- The third order - which revealed the entire current state parole board was fired - pledges to restore "integrity and confidence" in the board. Youngkin's order cites an investigation into the parole board and states that the parole board "violated victims’ rights and broke Virginia law by releasing multiple violent offenders without complying with the legally required notification to the victim or the prosecutor." | Read the full text here.
- Order Four pledges an attorney general investigation into "wrongdoing in Loudoun County." On Wednesday, a 15-year-old was sentenced to "supervised probation" until he turns 18 after he was found guilty on four charges connected to two sexual assaults that occurred at two public schools in Loudoun County. The order states, "Neither the Loudoun County School Board, nor the administrators of the Loudoun County school system, have been held accountable for deceiving the very Virginians they serve." | Read the full text here.
- Youngkin also established the Commonwealth Chief Transformation Officer, who will review all government agencies with the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Virginia Employment Commission. | Read the full text here.
- Executive Order Six declares Virginia "Open For Business" and seeks to evaluate COVID-19 safety measures that Youngkin calls impediments to conducting business. Youngkin directed the Safety and Health Codes Board to convene an emergency meeting of their membership to discuss whether there is a continued need for certain measures and report findings in 30 days. | Read the full text here.
- Order Seven aims to combat and prevent human trafficking and provide support to survivors by establishing the Human Trafficking Prevention and Survivor Support Commission. | Read the full text here.
- With Order Eight, Youngkin also pledges to start another commission, this one to combat antisemitism. | Read the full text here.
- Order Nine seeks to re-evaluate Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and "immediately begin regulatory processes to end it. Youngkin has described RGGI as "a carbon tax that is fully passed on to ratepayers." Earlier in January, however, former Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring issued an opinion that stated Youngkin cannot unilaterally suspend laws, citing the Constitution of Virginia and its separation of powers doctrine. | Read the full text here.
YOUNGKIN EXECUTIVE DIRECTIVES
In addition to the executive orders the new governor signed, Youngkin also issued two executive directives.
The first directive further seeks to ease regulatory burdens on businesses and citizens by reducing by 25% the number of regulations not mandated by federal or state statute, in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General. | Read the full text here.
The second directive rescinds the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all state employees, stating that requiring employees to "receive the COVID-19 vaccination and disclose their vaccination status or engage in mandatory testing is harmful to their individual freedoms and personal privacy." | Read the full text here.