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April 9, 2021

Just a reminder that this will be our final Lobbyline! Our final Legislative Update will be posted next week once all bills are complete.

In the Senate today, HJR 1 was on third reading with the right to amend. This is the resolution that would put a proposed amendment to the WV Constitution on the ballot for the 2022 general election. The amendment would state that any rules put into effect by the State Board of Education must be submitted to the Legislature for its review and approval/rejection. The resolution was laid over to tomorrow.

HB 2029 was also on third reading today. The purpose of this bill is to remove a potential naming conflict between the statutory teacher in residence program enacted in 2012 and a senior year resident teacher program approved by the State Board more recently. Both programs are clinical experience programs within teacher education at institutions of higher education and are under the direction of the State Board. The bill passed by a vote of 34-0 and now goes back to the House.

Also on third reading was HB 2145. This bill would add four student aide titles to the class titles for school personnel. The county board of education can decide whether they want to add these titles. These titles would be:

  • “Aide V (Special Education Assistant Teacher) – Temporary Authorization” means a person who does not possess minimum requirements for the permanent authorization requirements, but is enrolled in and pursuing requirements;
  • “Aide V (Special Education Assistant Teacher)” means a service person referred to in the “Aide I” classification who holds a high school diploma or a general educational development certificate and who has elected to complete three e-learning classes provided through the WVDE Department of Special Education.
  • “Aide VI (Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher – Temporary Authorization)” means a person who does not possess minimum requirements for the permanent authorization requirements, but is enrolled in and pursuing requirements;
  • “Aide VI (Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher)” means a person who works with a student or students who have identified behavior difficulties and meets standards and experiences to be determined by the state board. A person who has achieved the Aide III classification, and has a specialized training in behavioral supports for students. 

The bill passed by a vote of 34-0 and will now go back to the House.

HB 3266 was on reading. This bill would require teachers and service personnel with extracurricular assignments prior to retirement to re-apply for extracurricular assignments if they wish to keep them after retirement. This would apply to those who retire on July 1, 2021 or after. The bill passed by a vote of 33-0 and now goes to the governor.

Over in the House, SB 7 was on third reading. This bill says that an employee may not engage in political activity while on duty or while using an vehicle owned by the state. Political activity is defined as advocating for others to vote for or against a candidate or political party. For example, educators would be unable to put any kind of political material in teacher mailboxes. The bill was moved to the inactive calendar today.

Also on third reading, SB 657 would create the Open and Robust University Minds Act. The bill would prohibit “free speech zones” on public college campuses outside of which expressive activities are prohibited. It allows any person to engage in expressive activities anywhere on campus at any time. The bill also says a public college may not deny a religious, political or ideological student organization any benefit or privilege available to any other student organization. The bill passed by a vote of 98-0 and will now be sent to the governor.

The income tax reduction plan was sent back to the House today after being drastically changed in the Senate. After two amendments in the Senate, HB 3300 would create an initial 40% reduction in income tax statewide. This is done with a dollar for dollar reduction in income tax for any increase in general revenue over the previous year’s actual collections (due to an increase to revenue sources). This would happen immediately due to an increase in tobacco taxes and a new tax on contingency based legal agreements. The funds from these taxes would be deposited into a new Stabilization and Future Economic Reform (SAFER) Fund. When the SAFER fund hits $100 million, $50 million would be deposited into the General Revenue fund and the personal income tax would be reduced by 12.5%. The sales tax would also be increased in this bill from 6% to 8%, making it the highest in the country.

The House unanimously rejected the Senate’s new version of the bill. Multiple members from both sides of the aisle said they would not be part of raising taxes on West Virginians. With just one day left in the session, it is unclear what will happen to the bill now.


April 8, 2021

Governor Justice signed an executive order yesterday extending the Legislative Session for one day. This means the session will continue Monday. However, this day can only be used for the budget bill, all other bills must be completed by midnight on Saturday. We will post this week’s final Legislative Update on Monday once all bills are completed.

In the Senate today, HB 3293 was on third reading. This bill, as it was changed in the Senate Education Committee, says sports designated for females cannot be open to anyone of the male sex. It would allow someone who is aggrieved to challenge a female’s sex to the county board of education. This means if a girl gets second place in a track event, she could allege that the winner was transgender and in violation of this bill. That person would then have to prove their sex with a doctor’s exam. The bill passed by a vote of 18-15 and will now go back to the House for them to vote on whether to accept the changes made in the Senate.

HJR 1 was also on third reading today. This is the resolution that would put a proposed amendment to the WV Constitution on the ballot for the 2022 general election. The amendment would state that any rules put into effect by the State Board of Education must be submitted to the Legislature for its review and approval/rejection. The bill was laid over on day. It will continue to be on third reading tomorrow with the right to amend.

HB 2029 was on second reading in the Senate. The purpose of this bill is to remove a potential naming conflict between the statutory teacher in residence program enacted in 2012 and a senior year resident teacher program approved by the State Board more recently. Both programs are clinical experience programs within teacher education at institutions of higher education and are under the direction of the State Board. No amendments were made and the bill was moved to third reading.

Also on second reading was HB 2145. This bill would add four student aide titles to the class titles for school personnel. The county board of education can decide whether they want to add these titles. These titles would be:

  • “Aide V (Special Education Assistant Teacher) – Temporary Authorization” means a person who does not possess minimum requirements for the permanent authorization requirements, but is enrolled in and pursuing requirements;
  • “Aide V (Special Education Assistant Teacher)” means a service person referred to in the “Aide I” classification who holds a high school diploma or a general educational development certificate and who has elected to complete three e-learning classes provided through the WVDE Department of Special Education.
  • “Aide VI (Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher – Temporary Authorization)” means a person who does not possess minimum requirements for the permanent authorization requirements, but is enrolled in and pursuing requirements;
  • “Aide VI (Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher)” means a person who works with a student or students who have identified behavior difficulties and meets standards and experiences to be determined by the state board. A person who has achieved the Aide III classification, and has a specialized training in behavioral supports for students. 

No amendments were made and it will be on third reading tomorrow.

HB 3266 was also on second reading. This bill would require teachers and service personnel with extracurricular assignments prior to retirement to re-apply for extracurricular assignments if they wish to keep them after retirement. This would apply to those who retire on July 1, 2021 or after. There were no amendments and the bill will be on third reading tomorrow.

Over in the House, SB 636 was on third reading today. This bill would require all public, private, parochial and denominational schools to teach the institutions and structure of American government and politics. The bill also requires one credit course in personal finance must be completed in place of an economics class in order to graduate. It also says that the treatment of historic minorities such as African Americans, Native Americans and women must be taught. The bill passed by a vote of 91-8 and will now go back to the Senate for them to vote on whether to accept changes made to the bill in the House.

There were also several bills on second reading in the House today. SB 7 says that an employee may not engage in political activity while on duty or while using an vehicle owned by the state. Political activity is defined as advocating for others to vote for or against a candidate or political party. For example, educators would be unable to put any kind of political material in teacher mailboxes. No amendments were made and the bill will be on third reading tomorrow.

SB 610 would provide tuition and fee waivers to state colleges and universities for volunteers who have completed service in West Virginia in AmeriCorps Programs. One semester of waivers will be provided for every 600 hours completed in AmeriCorps service, with a total of eight semesters (4800 hours) allowed. The bill was moved to the inactive calendar.  

Also on second reading, SB 657 would create the Open and Robust University Minds Act. The bill would prohibit “free speech zones” on public college campuses outside of which expressive activities are prohibited. It allows any person to engage in expressive activities anywhere on campus at any time. The bill also says a public college may not deny a religious, political or ideological student organization any benefit or privilege available to any other student organization. There were no amendments and it will be on third reading tomorrow.


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Yesterday in House Judiciary SB 601 was on the agenda. The bill that would make it harder for all public workers to file a grievance.  SB 601 was another attempt to silence the voice of educators by requiring the employee to get a notary to sign the grievances they file.  It also required administrative law judges to postpone all proceedings if the employer filed a motion to dismiss the grievance and that whoever wins the grievance at the third and final level could make the loser pay legal costs, including attorney fees.

This was a horrible bill and it died in committee on a 9-15 vote.  A big 'thank you' to Delegates Lovejoy, Brown, Nestor and Burkhammer for speaking against the bill during the debate in committee.

Those voting against the bill were Brown, Bruce, Burkhammer, Fluharty, Garcia, Haynes, Lovejoy, McGeehan, Nestor, Phillips, Pinson, Pritt, Pushkin, B. Ward, and Zukoff. A big Thank You to all the delegates who voted against SB 601.

A study resolution was originated in the House Education Committee and is charged with looking at Chapters 18 and 18A of code. These sections contain most of the rights school employees enjoy. The study group will meet throughout the year and report back to the legislature at the end of the year. Legislation may be introduced next session from the study’s findings.

In the Senate today, the Senate concurred with the House and passed the following:

SB 375 - Relating to county boards of education policies for open enrollment

HB 2529 - Prohibiting West Virginia institutions of higher education from discriminating against graduates of private, nonpublic or home schools by requiring them to submit to alternative testing

SB 651 - Allowing county boards of education to publish financial statements on website.

Advancing to third reading with the right to amend was HCR 1 – designed to limit the powers of the WVBE and make them accountable to the legislature.