Wednesday, February 7, 2018

House Education Committee Completes Work on House Bill, Senate Ed Will Finish Up Tomorrow

We are approaching crossover here at the General Assembly. That is the day where each chamber must complete work on all of their bills so that they can "cross over" bills to the other chamber. The only bills to which this rule doesn't apply are the Budget Bills in each chamber. So with only 4 more floor sessions after today, and with each bill needing three reads on the floor, they are running our of time to get bills through subcommittees, to full committee, and to the floor. The floor sessions always get very long leading into crossover, and I anticipate many hours of floor action over the next few days.

The House Education Committee wrapped up their work today with final reports from all three subcommittees. There was some lengthy testimony on one bill and the chair reminded the committee members that they needs to stay on task as any bills not heard in the full committee today would be dead since they wouldn't be reported to the floor. And that is exactly what happens. Bills that are still sitting in subcommittees as of today, will have a tough road to passage. It is interesting to see some of the "tricks" used to kill bills before crossover. This is usually done by referring a bill to a subcommittee with no time to go through sub and full, or by referring bills to committees that have no additional meetings scheduled.

The House passed HB1125 from Delegate Landes. That is the omnibus teacher licensure bill. I am glad to report that ALL of our recommendations on that bill were heard. The House bill does not include the most concerning section from the original bill that would allow a school division to annually waive a teaching license for those they wish to hire with significant "content knowledge". Our concerns on this are explained in another post. We are very grateful to the work of Delegate Steve Landes, Delegate David Bulova, and Delegate Jeoin Ward on this bill.

The VEA initiated HB1119 also passed the full committee today and is headed to the floor. This is the bill that would require a state-wide school climate survey. We are feeling very hopeful that this bill will pass  the House and head to the Senate where their version of the bill already passed 38-0.

In the Senate, SB261 that would make the SOQ staffing ratio for High School Librarians permissive and flexible, went by for the day again. That is usually a sign the patron doesn't have the votes needed to pass the bill. We will continue to follow.

Tomorrow the Senate Education and Health Committee will met for the last time. They will take up SB349 which is Senator Peake's teacher licensure omnibus bill. It's not as good as the House version, but better than it was this time last week. We will see what happens when it gets into committee tomorrow.