Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Elections Subcommittee of the House Committee on Privileges and Elections continues to be very hostile territory to those trying to bring Virginia to adopt a transparent, bipartisan redistricting process.  Senator Miller’s SB824 and Senator Lewis’ SB1000 were tabled at a 7 a.m. meeting this morning.  Both bills were tabled on a voice vote, making it impossible to make delegates accountable for their votes.  No fingerprints!

The resurrected school calendar bills, ending the post-Labor day opening requirement, met a similar fate in the Senate Education and Health Committee, only the votes were recorded.  Greason’s HB1550 and Robinson’s HB1538 both failed to report on a 5-9 votes.  Later Stolle’s  HB1585 met a similar fate on a 8-6 vote to pass by indefinitely.  The Stolle bill was much more narrow, allowing calendar flexibility only for low-performing schools.  When debating the Stolle bill, Senator Howell lamented that, “We do a lot of hand-wringing about under-performing schools, but we do very little to help them.”  Truer words were never spoken.  For those of you who have been following the fate of these bills, you know they were killed, revived, and know they have been killed again.  I'm thinking that if something can be refried, something can be redied. 
The “Tebo Bill,” Rob Bell’s HB1636, a bill to allow home-schooled students to participate in interscholastic programs, reported on an 8-6 vote.  Elections have consequences.

An oddity of the current session is that there is little gap between what is proposed by the House and by the Senate in terms of per-pupil funding.  Usually the Senate is higher, sometime substantially, than the House.  As you can see from the chart below, the gap this year is $3.