House Republican Leadership Statement on Conclusion of the 2021 Legislative Session

gshipley2021 General Assembly, Press Releases, Uncategorized

House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert, Caucus Chair Kathy Byron, and Caucus Whip Jay Leftwich issued the following statement upon the conclusion of the 2021 General Assembly Session:

“One of the most important issues facing Virginians over the past year was and continues to be the education of their children.

“When schools were closed and various learning options were implemented, it was evident that virtual education was going to present numerous challenges for students, their parents and teachers. As the pandemic dragged on from ‘two weeks to stop the spread’ to an indefinite lockdown, it became clear that our kids were losing more than just extra-curricular activities. They were losing academic and social progress. Depression and anxiety became more prevalent. Kids who were thriving gave up on learning and began going through the motions.

“That’s why we’ve been fighting to get our kids help since last summer. We offered legislation and budget amendments time and time again to get parents the help they needed to make virtual learning work — tutoring, technology, assistance for learning “pods,” or even the curriculum to teach their children themselves.

“When it became clear that not only could schools open safely, but it was more dangerous to keep schools closed, Republicans fought hard to give parents a real choice — an immediate return to five-day a week, in person education, or virtual education if they weren’t ready to come back yet.

“Democrats, unfortunately, disagreed. They blocked our efforts to help parents make education better for their children. They chose to stand with teachers’ unions and push back school re-openings to the fall at the earliest for some systems. It was only when the public outcry became too much for them to ignore — nearly a year after our schools closed in the first place — that they decided to take steps toward helping our children.

“Republicans have, and will continue to, put our children first. But education is nothing if our communities aren’t safe. Republicans have always stood with police and victims, and we’re proud of that.

“House Republicans held the majority for twenty years, and in that time Virginia’s neighborhoods became safer. Our cities, once feared for their random acts of violence and sky-high murder rates, became safer. Richmond was no longer the murder capital of the nation, but rather an urban oasis for young entrepreneurs to start new businesses with new technologies. Virginia’s crime rate plummeted, making our Commonwealth one of the safest places to live in the nation. In fact, until recently, Virginia boasted the 4th lowest violent crime rate in the nation.

“Yet Democrats in the past two years have done all they can to reverse that progress. They worked to defund our law enforcement officers until the politics became too daunting. They voted time and time again to make police officers choose between bringing in dangerous criminals, or losing their homes in frivolous lawsuits.

“They prioritized reducing sentences for violent felons, doing away with safeguards that keep rapists, human traffickers, and killers behind bars. They prioritized making it easier for those charged with these crimes to get out on bail and back into our communities.

“And when Republicans pointed out that our Parole Board was letting truly heinous convicted murderers back into communities — including those who had been sentenced to life in prison — they blocked efforts to bring greater transparency to these important decisions.

“Democrats don’t seem to remember the bad old days of the 1970s. Crime was high, and jobs were hard to come by. Energy prices were crippling for hard working families, and government was incompetent to handle its most basic functions.

“Yet they’ve enacted law after law that will reverse the gains we’ve made. New rules and regulations will cripple businesses who have managed to hang on during the pandemic, and new laws that expose employers to significant litigation. Policies allegedly designed to make our Commonwealth “greener” will instead impact the poorest Virginians who can least afford higher energy costs.

“While all of this was being pushed onto Virginians, we witnessed multiple failures related to the pandemic. Unemployment claims are six months behind while people suffer. Critical programs like COVID testing and vaccine distribution were unmitigated disasters for months as Virginians desperately sought information from the government tasked with these responsibilities.

“That’s the road Democrats are taking Virginia. A path that takes us right back to harder, less prosperous times. But voters will have a choice. A choice that reverses the damage done by school closures that have gone on too long, and keeps our neighborhoods safe. A choice that leads to a growing economy and plenty of good, high-paying jobs.

“We look forward to sharing our vision for Virginia’s future with the voters between now and November.”