Thursday, February 27, 2014

SOL Reform Advances, Stand Alone Virtual School Bill Dies, VRS FIS Bill Tabled, Diabetes Bill A Work In Progess, Special Session?

The SOL reform bill, Delegate Greason's HB 930, was amended and reported by the Senate and Education and Health Committee this morning.  This bill, which names VEA as one of the organizations represented on the SOL Innovation Committee, now heads to the Senate floor where final passage appears to be likely.

The committee carried over Delegate "Dickie" Bell's HB 324, the bill which would have created a "stand alone" virtual school students could enroll in as an alternate to attending their public school.  Chairman Lucas will write to the Senate Finance Committee requesting that they examine the funding provisions in the bill, which VEA pointed out as being problematic.  The vote to carry over was unanimous.

Senator Emmett Hanger's SB 420, which had passed the Senate on a 38  to 0 vote, was tabled by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Compensation and Retirement.  Delegate Joannou moved that the bill be carried over, but there was no second.  This bill would have provided that the fiscal impact statements (FIS) given to legislators as they consider retirement bills would include the impact of the policy change on present and future retirees.  The VRS did not object to the bill.  Senator Hanger asserted that such information "should have a bearing on how legislators vote."  This outcome is most disappointing and reflective of a callous lack of concern for VRS members.

Work continues on the diabetes bills.  The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education conformed Senator Stuart’s SB 532 to Delegate Cole’s HB 134.  The Cole language is much less problematic.  These bills appear to be headed for a committee of conference where the differences between the two will be ironed out.

The scuttlebutt in the Capital's halls is that the General Assembly will adjournSine Die on March 8, without having completed a budget, and that the Governor will call a special session to continue work on the budget.