Thursday, February 16, 2017

An Interesting Day

This morning in Senate Education and Health, they took action on HB1400, the Virtual School Bill, and HB1605, the Parental Choice Education Savings Plan bill. They had already passed Senate versions of these bills, so they took no comments and simply conformed the bills and sent them to Senate Finance. The House has a $380,000 line in their budget for the cost to the state to implement the Savings Accounts, so they are expecting it to pass. The Senate version of the bill died on the Senate floor in a 20-20 vote, but we are hearing that Senator DeSteph will vote in favor of the bill this time around. The administration is opposed to both bills, so we will urge Governor McAuliffe to take veto action on them if they pass. 

Today on the House floor debate continued on the school discipline bills (HB1534 and 1536/SB995 and 997). I don’t understand why some legislators believe that teachers want kids out of their classrooms. Some comments on these bills this session have been really offensive to educators. Comments like, “This is a classroom management issue. Teachers should use every tool in their toolbox but instead they suspend kids” and today Delegate Albo kept up that argument. He said, “some teachers just don’t want to deal with these kids.” These arguments are 100% not the case. Today we were grateful to Delegates Ware and Orrock who defended teachers and school administrators. These bills will go to conference and we are hopeful we will end up with a bill that will address the real issue of long-term suspensions in VA while allowing school boards the flexibility to keep the 99.8% of our public school students who are not long-term suspended and the school staffs safe.

If you are a cyber lobbyist you should have received an action alert today asking you to email your Senator and ask they to vote NO on HB2251, Delegate Chris Jones’ VRS Optional Defined Contribution Plan. This plan is bad for school employees. There is not a lot of appitite for this bill in the Senate, but Speaker Howell loves this bill, so rather than just kill the bill, Senate Finance added a reenactment clause to the bill that requires that, if it passes this year, it must also past next year in order to go to the Governor’s desk. Read the action alert to learn more and please take action today.

Urge your Senator to Please vote NO on HB2251