Monday, February 10, 2014

Defensive Victories: Bad Bills Amended or Killed

As we approach Crossover, the halfway point of the General Assembly session, when bills leave their chamber of origin to be considered in the other end of the Capitol, we can celebrate a few defensive victories.  We killed some bad bills and amended others to reduce their negative consequences.  The efforts frequently involved a little help from our friends.  Often, the patrons helped once they saw the possibility of unintended consequences.
The two diabetes bills, Delegate Cole’s HB 134 and Delegate Stuart’s SB532, have been amended extensively.  For background, see the January 17th posting on this blog.  Cole’s bill does not harm at this point, and it make an important step forward by allowing diabetic students to carry and use supplies, including a reasonable and appropriate short-term supply of carbohydrates and equipment for immediate treatment of high and low blood glucose levels, and to self-check blood glucose levels on a school bus, on school property, and at a school-sponsored activity.  Most of the problematic sections of SB 532 have been removed.

These bills may be headed for a committee of conference, as they are now in conflict.  I thank both Delegate Cole and Senator Stuart for working with us on these bills.  VSBA has been immensely helpful in this effort.

Delegate Bacote’s HB 993 addressed an extremely important issue, human trafficking.  However, the solution she sought was a licensure requirement for those seeking or renewing teachings licenses in Virginia.  In service training can be required without making certification of training a prerequisite of licensure.   HB 993 was tabled in the House Appropriations Committee.

Delegate LaRock’s HB 950 would have allowed the parents of a child receiving home instruction or a child attending an accredited private school to claim a credit against the individual income tax for amounts paid for such child’s (i) instruction-related materials, including textbooks, workbooks, and supplies; (ii) courses or programs used in the home instruction; or (iii) private school tuition.  HB 950 was tabled in the House Finance Committee.

Senator Newman’s SB 89 would have allowed school divisions to reduce the level of disability insurance offered to school employees in the VRS Hybrid Plan (employees hired after 1/1/14 or who opt-in to the hybrid).   This bill was killed by a 6-11 vote in the Senate Finance Committee.

 We came to call Senator Reeve’s SB 385 the “Dead Peasant” bill.  Please see the January 23rdposting on this blog for background.  This one was just too strange to be true.  I’ll never forget the line from the Fiscal Impact statement, ““Doubts as to whether profiting from the deaths of VRS members is good public policy.”   I thank Senator Reeves for striking this bill.

Unfortunately, Senator Obenshain’s SB 457 is a perennial.  It’s the one that allows school boards to deny charter school VRS retirement benefits.  I hope the senator will spare us this one next year.  Once again, it died – this time on a 6-11 vote.