Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Busy Morning in House Ed and Delegate Helsel Is Still a Champion!

This morning the full House Education Committee took up a long docket of bills that included the VEA's Teacher Diversity bill (HB2037, the Senate version of the bill SB1397 passed 40-0 yesterday). For some reason the bill has been referred to the House Appropriations Committee even though there is no state or local fiscal impact of the bill. Not sure what is going on here, but Chief Patron Delegate Carroll-Foy and Chief Co-Patron Delegate Lee Ware are talking with the members of the Appropriations committee to make sure the bill is in good shape.

Also today Delegate VanValkenburg's bill that will codify teacher planning time for all teachers was passed by for the day. He is trying to get the bill to a place where there is no fiscal impact. If he can't do that, the bill will die in Appropriations. He assures me he has a plan and the bill will come to the full committee on Monday, which happens to be VEA Lobby Day. You might want to stop by the  House Education at 8:30am to hear that bill. Just so you know why it is important to have educators in the legislature, like Delegates VanValkenburg and Turpin, while the planning time bill was in subcommittee, Delegate Glenn Davis commented how important planning time was because everyone needs a "break" at work where they can sit and clear the heads or even take a jog if they like. Delegate VanValkenburg very diplomatically explained what teachers actually do during planning time and that leaving school property was not on the list.

Also today in House Education we had the annual presentation of the bill that would allow home schooled students to participate in public school (VHSL) sports. Once again Delegate Helsel broke with his caucus and voted with the 9 Democrats to kill the bill on a 10-10 tie. We were worried right before the vote as we were missing a good friend who always stands with us on the bill, but with Helsel voting with us and another member who typically votes against us on this bill being absent today, the bill died on a 10-10 vote. Just like last year, Delegate Helsel was the key vote in killing this legislation. As he told me last year, "if the school boards, superintendents, and VEA is against an education bill, how can I be for it." That's what we mean when we say we have friends on both sides of the aisle.

The VEA bill that allow the Board of Education to reprimand a teacher facing license action rather than only suspend or revoke a license was on the docket today, but time got the best of the Chair, and that bill will be up on Friday afternoon. Delegate Bob Thomas has been a great patron to work with and he is working with the members of the Committee to help them understand the simple nature of the bill. Hopefully his ground work and our ground work on this bill will lead to a good outcome.

At 4pm today the House Appropriations Subcommittee on K-12 will hear from every House member who has submitted a budget amendment. There is a very long list, and this is always a very long day because of that. This year is especially tricky as the General Assembly has yet to act on tax conformity or any tax policy that will determine the revenues that my or may not be available to the budget crafters. Last year I was a black widow. Every time I got up to support a budget amendment, the amendment was killed. I am not certain they will kill everything since they don't have a budget plan right now. Today if a bill is "laid on the table" that is a win. That means it is still in consideration by the money committees. Maybe this year, the black widow will leave the committee at the end of the night with a whole lot of budget amendments still on the table.