Friday, February 17, 2017

Fast Paced Day: VEA Bill Passes, Read Across America Commended, Many Bills Still

The VEA initiated bill, HB2332, carried and championed by Delegate Roslyn Tyler passed the Senate today 40-0, and was engrossed and sent to the Governor’s desk to sign! The bill passed the House 100-0 earlier in session. In case you think this was a no-brainer bill, the VEA has tried many sessions, and in many ways, to get this type of bill through the General Assembly, and we have not been successful. Here is the language in the bill:

It is a goal of the Commonwealth that its public school teachers be compensated at a rate that is competitive with the national average teacher salary in order to attract and keep highly qualified teachers. As used in this section, "competitive" means, at a minimum, at or above the national average teacher salary. The Director of Human Resource Management shall conduct a biennial review of the compensation of teachers and other occupations requiring similar education and training and shall consider the Commonwealth's compensation for teachers relative to member states in the Southern Regional Education Board. The results of these reviews shall be reported to the Governor, the General Assembly, and the Board of Education by June 1 of each odd-numbered year.

This is big news for us and a big victory to our organizing efforts on salary. This bill doesn’t fix anything, but it gives us leverage. It also forces Virginia to take a hard look at where we stand as they review their efforts on compensation.

Today the Senate also passed a Resolution commending VEA and NEA on the 20th Anniversary of Read Across America. And in more good news, the Senate passed by HB2251, the Defined Contribution VRS plan, today. Our cyber lobbyists have put the pressure on the Senate to kill that bad bill. Here’s hoping they just keep passing it by until session ends. That kills the bill. So, overall, a good day.

Please don’t think, though, that public education is sailing through this session. The Senate and House will each take up Charter School bills on Monday. Delegate Landes’ HB2342 will be on the Senate floor Monday and SB1283 from Senator Obenshain, will be on the House floor. We have an active cyber lobbyist alert on those bills. Urge you legislators to vote NO. Click on the link below to send an email to your member of the House and Senate.

HB1605, Delegate LaRock’s voucher bill will also be on the Senate floor on Monday.

Next week is the last week of this short session. Budget conferees are working well together and, all reports indicate that Teacher Salary will be included. The devil will be in the details. Next week we will know what happens with some really big bills including the optional defined contribution retirement plan, vouchers, charters, and long-term suspension bills. As is usually the case, big public school bills wait until the last week, and there is always nail biting and heartburn involved.  

No to Charter School Bills