Tuesday, February 19, 2013

OEI - It ain't over 'till it's over.

I hate to inform you that the Senate rejected Delegate Marshall’s HJR 590, which would have studied the feasibility of Virginia creating a monetary unit based on a metallic standard.  Metallic standard – no wooden nickels in the Commonwealth!  The Senate killed this measure on a voice vote, denying us knowledge of who the nuttiest of the nuts who would have voted for this are.

On a more serious note – the bathrooms in the GA Building are still not working.  Can you offer any colorful metaphors?

The budget and transportation conferees are having difficulty in reaching agreement (The plumbing is not the only problem.), so the deadline for the work of both conference committees has been extended from tonight until tomorrow night. 

House Education Committee action engendered a bit of press coverage in this morning’s Virginian-Pilot.  As was reported yesterday, the committee refused to set the goal of offering a nationally competitive salary to Virginia’s teachers.

The Roanoke Times ran an excellent piece on the Governor’s plan to takeover underperforming schools.  This is a must read!

The Senate accepted the House amendments to SB 1185, so the Strategic Compensation bill is on its way to the Governor's desk.  VEA supported this bill as an acceptable alternative to merit pay.

The Senate rejected the House amendments to SB 1207, the grade-the-schools bill, so that bill now heads to a committee of conference.  This House rejected the Senate amendments to HB 1999, the grade-the-school bill, so that bill, too, heads to conference.

The Senate accepted the House amendments to SJR 328, the study resolution calling for a Joint Legislative and Audit Review Commission study of the Standards of Quality, so that measure, which was initiated by VEA and sponsored by Senator Saslaw, now goes to the Governor's desk.  Should the Governor sign the resolution, we will have achieved a significant victory in this session.

Yet again, the Senate passed by Delegate Habeeb's HB 2096, the Governor's bill to takeover underperforming schools.  By our count, the bill would have failed had the vote been taken today.  The House passed the companion bill, SB 1324, to third reading, and the final vote in that chamber may be on tomorrow.  These bills seem to be developing a serious fever.  Rumor has it that a floor amendment is being developed to make it so that the local revenues taken by the state from the localities will be used in the locality of origin.  Rumor has it too, that the Auditor of Public Accounts has indicated that insufficient oversight of the Opportunity Educational Institution is prescribed in the bills.

Even if both of these takeover bills pass, the final work may well be with the budget conferees, as the Senate amended both bill by attaching "the clause, " which reads, "That the provisions of this act shall not become effective unless an appropriation effectuating the purposes of this act is included in a general appropriation act passed during the 2013 Regular or Special Session of the General Assembly that becomes law." So, if the money isn't in the budget to enact the bills, they will not go into effect. Action on this issue is far from over!