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Friday, March 8, 2019

With just one day remaining in the regular legislative session, several bills were on third reading in both the House and Senate today.

We will start with the House and SB 329, which would allow county boards to request an agricultural program. If funding is an issue, the Department of Education can report that to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability. This bill passed and will be sent to the governor.

SB 632 would require cameras be placed in all special education classrooms if funding is provided. It also would create a “Safe Schools Fund” and add a finding of abuse by the DHHR to be cause for revocation of a teaching certificate. An amendment was made on the floor last night that adds language that says a teacher certificate will be revoked if they are convicted of a crime that requires them to register as a sex offender. The amended bill will now have to go back to the Senate for a vote.

SB 605 made a comeback and passed the House on 3rd reading today. This bill would allow the SSAC to sanction schools for not following protocols surrounding concussions and head injuries. It would also allow licensed physical therapists and athletic trainers to give return to play clearance after a head injury. The bill had been put on the inactive calendar but was moved back yesterday. It is now completed legislation and will be sent to the governor.

In the Senate, HB 2004 was one of the bills on third reading today. This bill would require the State Board to develop a program to help secondary students with workforce preparedness. This amended bill will now go back to the House for a vote.

HB 2378 would allow the state superintendent to revoke a teaching certificate if the person has been convicted of a criminal offense that requires them to register as a sex offender. The certificate can also be revoked if the teacher is convicted of a crime relating to the delivery or distribution of a controlled substance. An amendment had been made that would revoke a certificate if there is a finding of abuse by the DHHR. This amendment was removed on the floor today because the house has already passed a bill that did this. 2378 is now completed legislation and will be sent to the governor.

HB 2662 is the companion bill to 2378 and does all of the same things, just for service personnel. This bill also had the DHHR finding of abuse amendment and was removed on the floor today. This bill is also now completed legislation and will be sent to the governor.

HB 2422 makes changes to how “Celebrate Freedom Week” is taught. Currently, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence must be taught during the week of September 11. This bill would add the Emancipation Proclamation and allow these things to be taught at anytime during the school year as selected by the county board. This completed bill will now be sent to the governor.

HB 2541 aims to improve school safety by doing things such as providing updated floor maps to first responders each year, providing first aid training and active shooter to all school personnel and students each year. This amended bill will go back to the House for a vote.

The two PEIA bills, HB 2665 and HB 3139, that passed out of committee yesterday are on second reading in the Senate today. With so many bills on the agenda, the Senate probably won’t get to those until much later this evening. However, there are currently no amendments pending for 2665 and only a title amendment for 3139.


Thursday March 7, 2019

Some of today’s biggest news actually began last night. Around 9 PM Governor Justice released a statement saying he would be calling a special session to focus on education. He said the purpose of the special session would be to follow through on the promise of a 5% pay raise for education employees. However, he also said there were education reforms worth consideration. You can find a statement from WVEA President Dale Lee on the Dedicated Teachers Facebook page.

The governor said the special session would begin immediately but then recess to hear from constituents. We are unsure of how long that recess will last and when they will begin working on these issues. We will continue to keep you updated.

The Senate Finance Committee met this morning to discuss the two PEIA bills: 3139 and 2665. HB 3139 creates a PEIA Rainy Day Fee that would be paid by employers participating in PEIA. In the committee concerns were raised about the portion of the fee that public colleges and universities would have to pay. An amendment was offered and passed that removed the section that required employers to pay the fee. The amended bill passed out of committee and on to the floor.

The committee also discussed HB 2665 which put the supplemental appropriation of $105 million into the Rainy Day Fund. 2665 passed out of committee and on to the floor.

Senators were very busy in their floor session today. SB 1 made its way back to the Senate today. The House had made changes to the bill, the biggest of those being an expansion to include baccalaureate public colleges and universities that offer associate degrees. The Senate concurred with the House changes and will be sent to the governor.  

HB 2001 was on third reading and passed. This bill would eliminate the state’s personal income tax on Social Security benefits. The Senate’s amended version now must go back to the House for a vote.

HB 2363 also passed in the Senate today. This bill would broaden was is considered the Upper Kanawha Valley to the Charleston city limits to Gauley Bridge. It would also allow Kanawha and Fayette Counties to create and maintain schools that serve the Upper Kanawha Valley. The Senate had made amendments to the bill and the House must vote on those changes.

Finally, HB 2853 which requires the Library Commission to create the West Virginia Program for Open Education Resources passed on third reading. This would be a public domain for educators in both higher education and K-12 to upload teaching and learning materials of any medium. The bill will be sent to the governor.

The Senate also had several bills on second reading. HB 2004 would require the State Board to develop a program to help secondary students with workforce preparedness. The bill would also make changes to the community and technical colleges consortium by having them focus on high-demand jobs and create programs of study in those fields. An amendment was offered that encompassed the education committee amendment as well as a technical change. The amendment passed and the bill was sent on to third reading tomorrow.

HB 2378 would allow the state superintendent to revoke a teaching certificate if the person has been convicted of a criminal offense that requires them to register as a sex offender. The certificate can also be revoked if the teacher is convicted of a crime relating to the delivery or distribution of a controlled substance. An amendment was made that adds language that says the state board can revoke a teaching license if there is a finding of abuse by the DHHR. The bill will be on third reading tomorrow.

Also on second reading was HB 2662 which is the same exact bill as 2378, except this one applies to service personnel. An amendment was also made to this bill that says the state board can revoke a contract or a bus driver’s certificate if there is a finding of abuse by the DHHR.

HB 2541 aims to improve school safety by doing things such as providing updated floor maps to first responders each year, providing first aid training and active shooter to teachers and students each year. An amendment was made that says all school employees instead of just teachers along with students will receive first aid and active shooter training each year. The bill will be on third reading tomorrow.

In the House, SB 238 was on third reading. This bill will increase the penalties for illegally passing a stopped school bus and require forward and rear facing exterior cameras on all county school buses purchases after July 1, 2019. It will now be sent to the governor.

The House also has several bills on second reading/amendment stage when they reconvene later this this evening. We will keep up on those and fill you in in tomorrow’s Lobbyline.


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Just three days remain in the regular legislative session but things seemed to slow down some today. In the House, they passed an amended version of SB 1 on third reading. Remember this is the bill that would pay the remainder of an in-state student’s tuition at community and technical colleges after all other forms of financial aid have been exhausted. This version now allows students at four year public colleges and universities that offer associate degrees to be eligible to receive money. The bill will now go back to the Senate for them to vote on the changes.

SB 154 also passed in the House today. This bill would allow school facilities to be used for funerals of military members, veterans and first responders. One change was made to the bill on the House floor today. The bill’s name was changed to the Specialist Nicholas Caleb Jividen Act to honor a soldier killed in November. The bill now must go back to the Senate for a vote on the name change.

SB 605 was supposed to be on second reading today. This bill  would allow the SSAC to sanction schools for not following protocols surrounding concussions and head injuries. It would also allow licensed physical therapists and athletic trainers to give return to play clearance after a head injury. The bill was taken off the active calendar today. We have not heard why or if the bill may be put back on the active calendar before the end of the session.

Over in the Senate, HB 2001 was on second reading today. This bill would eliminate the state’s personal income tax on Social Security benefits. An amendment was made to the bill today that makes two changes. The first change is a new section that would eliminate the tax on retirement income for the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, Public Health Service, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, reserves, and National Guard. This would be for all retirement income after December 31, 2018.

The second change concerns the social security tax. Instead of eliminating it all at once, it would be done in stages. The amendment says beginning January 1, 2020 you won’t pay taxes on 35% of your social security income, on January 1, 2021 you won’t pay taxes on 65% of that income and by January 1, 2022 the social security tax will be eliminated completely. This deduction would have a means test of $50,000 for singles and $100,000 for married couples. The amendment that comprised of both of these changes passed the Senate and now the bill will be on third reading tomorrow.  

It is also important to note another victory was made last night. Senate Judiciary met to discuss HB 2519, the campus carry bill. Within 20 minutes they took a vote to pass the bill out of committee and failed 9-7. Two republicans, Senators Clements and Weld, voted with democrats to defeat the bill. There are still ways to revive the bill, but it would still need to go through the Finance Committee and be read three separate times on the floor all before Saturday.


Tuesday, March 5, 2019

As the last week of the regular legislative session continues, more bills continue to move in the Legislature. However, one bill that is not currently moving is HB 2730, the pay raise bill. Senator Prezioso made a motion on the Senate floor today to discharge the bill from the Education Committee. That motion failed on a 16-18 vote. All democrats and republicans Hamilton and Sypolt voted in favor of the motion. So for now at least, that bill remains in the Senate Education Committee where they have yet to put the bill on their agenda.

The Senate Education Committee did meet this afternoon and discussed several bills. First up was HB 2378. This bill would allow the state superintendent to revoke a teaching certificate if the person has been convicted of a criminal offense that requires them to register as a sex offender. The certificate can also be revoked if the teacher is convicted of a crime relating to the delivery or distribution of a controlled substance. An amendment was made that adds language that says the state board can revoke a teaching license if there is a finding of abuse by the DHHR. The amended bill passed and was sent to the floor.

They also discussed HB 2662 which is the same exact bill as 2378, except this one applies to service personnel. An amendment was also made to this bill that says the state board can revoke a contract or a bus driver’s certificate if there is a finding of abuse by the DHHR. The amended bill passed and was sent to the floor.

HB 2422 makes changes to how “Celebrate Freedom Week” is taught. Currently, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence must be taught during the week of September 11. This bill would add the Emancipation Proclamation and allow these things to be taught at anytime during the school year as selected by the county board. The bill passed out of committee and was sent to the floor.

HB 2541 aims to improve school safety by doing things such as providing updated floor maps to first responders each year, providing first aid training and active shooter to teachers and students each year. An amendment was made that says all school employees instead of just teachers along with students will receive first aid and active shooter training each year. The amended bill passed and was sent to the floor.  

Finally, the committee considered HB 2004. This bill would require the State Board to develop a program to help secondary students with workforce preparedness. The program would include preparing a resume, interviewing skills, workplace expectations and more. The bill would also make changes to the community and technical colleges consortium by having them focus on high-demand jobs and create programs of study in those fields.

Two amendments were made to the bill. One would ensure that all students as a part of this program would be treated the same as all other students when graduating. The other amended multiple parts of the bill. We will be able to describe those more fully once an updated version of the bill is made available. The amended version of the bill passed out of committee and was sent to the floor.

On the Senate floor, HB 3095 was passed on third reading and sent to the Governor. This bill will raise the minimum monthly pensions for retired teachers, service personnel and state employees with 25 or more years of service from $500 to $750.

In the House, a motion was made for SB 632 to bypass the Finance Committee. This is the bill that would require cameras be installed in special education classrooms. The reasoning for bypassing Finance was that the bill had been amended to say the cameras would be required “if it is funded” and subject to legislative appropriation. This motion failed and the bill was sent to Finance. However, the motion was later reconsidered and passed meaning the bill will now bypass the Finance Committee and be read a first time tomorrow.

Also in the House, SB 1 was on second reading today. This is the bill that would pay the remainder of an in-state student’s tuition at community and technical colleges after all other forms of financial aid have been exhausted. The House Finance Committee provided their own strike and insert version of the bill and two more amendments were made to that. This version of the bill passed the House on second reading and will be on third reading tomorrow.


Monday, March 4, 2019

The House Education Committee met this morning and discussed several bills. First up was SB 329 which aims to make agricultural programs available to more high school students. This bill would allow county boards to request an agricultural program. If funding is an issue, the Department of Education can report that to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability. The bill passed out of committee and was sent to Finance, but it was suggested that the reference to Finance be waived and the bill be sent directly to the floor.

The committee also discussed SB 605. This bill would allow the SSAC to sanction schools for not following protocols surrounding concussions and head injuries. It would also allow licensed physical therapists and athletic trainers to give return to play clearance after a head injury. This bill passed out of committee and was sent to the floor.

They also took up SB 632. You may remember that this is the bill that creates the safe schools fund and requires cameras be put in special education classrooms. The bill also allows a person to be fired for a finding of abuse by the DHHR, conviction of a misdemeanor or a guilty plea/plea of nolo contendere to a misdemeanor charge that has a rational nexus. An amendment was made in the committee that would remove the section that allows parents to view the video from a camera in the instance of a potential issue. The amended version of the bill passed out of the committee and was sent to Finance with the suggestion that the second reference be waived and the bill be sent to the floor.

HB 2519, the campus carry bill was set to be brought up in the Senate Judiciary Committee this afternoon but was taken off the agenda at the last minute. There has been no word yet on the reason for the sudden change.


Friday, March 1, 2019

Both the House and Senate Education Committees met today and took up several bills. In House Education there was quite a bit of discussion about SB 624. This bill would allow county boards to use the ACT for assessments for the Every Student Succeeds Act. Currently, the SAT is what is being used and there was debate on whether it was too early to switch the assessment tool being used. In the end, all but Delegate Doyle agreed that this bill just allows for the ACT option and does not require it. The bill passed out of committee with no amendments and was sent to the floor.

They also discussed SB 154 which would allow school facilities to be used for funerals of military members, veterans and first responders. This bill also passed out of committee with no amendments and was sent to the floor.

In the Senate Education Committee, they discussed HB 2363. This bill would broaden was is considered the Upper Kanawha Valley to the Charleston city limits to Gauley Bridge. It would also allow Kanawha and Fayette Counties to create and maintain schools that serve the Upper Kanawha Valley. The bill passed out of committee and was sent to the Government Organization Committee.

They also talked about HB 2853 which requires the Library Commission to create the West Virginia Program for Open Education Resources. This would be a public domain for educators in both higher education and K-12 to upload teaching and learning materials of any medium. The bill passed out of committee and was sent to the Finance Committee.

The Senate has announced that they will meet again tomorrow but there has not yet been an announcement from the House. No word on if committees will be meeting tomorrow as well.


Thursday, February 28, 2019

Legislators in the House worked late last night as they debated HB 2519, the campus carry bill for over four hours. All amendments offered on the bill were rejected. When they finally took a final vote on passage of the bill, it passed by a vote of 59-41. Although that is the number of Republicans and Democrats in the House, the vote was not along party lines. The two parties traded nine votes. You can see the roll call here.

After a busy day yesterday, today was fairly quiet and slow moving. No education bills were on third reading in the House or Senate today as both had a shortened schedule compared to the rest of the week. Senate Education was set to meet at 2 PM, but canceled that meeting with no explanation. The pay raise bill has yet to make it onto their schedule.