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February 27, 2020

Now that crossover day is over, things slowed down at the capitol today. There were no education-related bills on the Senate Floor. Two bills were on second reading in the House. SB 241 requires the State Board of Education to propose revisions to the calculation of the allowance for service personnel in step 2 of the funding formula. This would provide additional funded bus driver positions for counties with lower population-density covering large geographic areas. The Board must report the proposal to the Legislature before September 1, 2020. No amendments were made and it will be on third reading tomorrow.

There were also no amendments made to SB 652. This bill would allow the School Building Authority to look at a contractor’s experience, past performance, violations and other things before granting a contract. It would also allow them to suspend a contract if they feel a contractor is not meeting their requirements. It will be on third reading tomorrow.

The Senate Education Committee met this afternoon. They discussed HB 4398. The purpose of this bill is to incorporate into currently required coursework the original texts of the Mayflower Compact, Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States and its amendments, the Bill of Rights, Federalist Papers and the Constitution of West Virginia. The bill passed out of the committee and will now go to the Senate Floor.


February 26, 2020

It was crossover day for the Legislature which means there were many bills on third reading in both the Senate and the House. 

 

We will start with bills in the Senate. SB 38 passed by a vote of 34-0 and will now be sent to the House. This bill says that county boards may offer students in grades 9 and up a social studies elective in sacred texts or comparative religions.

 

SB 616 passed by a vote of 27-7 and will now be sent to the House. Senators Stollings, Facemire, Prezioso, Baldwin, Hardesty, Lindsay and Romano were the no votes. This is the grievance process bill and contains a number of provisions that are of concern to WVEA. They include:

  • Language allowing the prevailing party in an appeal to the Circuit or Supreme Court to recover court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees from the opposing party for the appeal to the court.
  • Proposed language stating that “When the grievant has been discharged, suspended without pay, or demoted or reclassified resulting in a loss of compensation or benefits, he or she may proceed directly to level two.” Currently the grievant can go directly to level three and waive levels one and two in those situations. This delays the decision for the grievant and extends the process unnecessarily.

SB 661 passed by a vote of 34-0 and will now be sent to the House. This bill would replace the minimum minutes of instructional time required per day with a requirement for an average of five hours per day throughout the instructional term. It would also require that public notice for hearings about a county’s school calendar be posted in the newspaper and on the county board’s website.

SB 750 passed by a vote of 34-0 and will now head to the House. This bill would require the county boards of education to develop and adopt an Extended Learning Opportunities policy that includes alternative educational opportunities for elective course credit that recognizes learning opportunities outside of the traditional classroom. Non-profits, businesses, parents and teachers may apply and submit proposals for these opportunities.

 

SB 842 passed by a vote of 34-0. This bill would require the State Superintendent to create the Behavior Interventionalist Program. The program would run for five years in two counties. The state superintendent would use the following criteria when choosing the two counties: counties with a high number of students with an IEP, high number of students with behavior issues and the resources available to hire and train someone for this position. The chosen counties then may create a new position titled Behavior Interventionalist. A committee consisting of principals, teachers, classroom aids and teacher organizations will convene to decide on the requirements for the position.

 

There were also several bills on third reading in the House. SB 725 was on third reading today but was taken off the House calendar and placed on the inactive calendar. This bill requires money remaining unappropriated from fiscal year ending June 30, 2020 will be given to the State Board of Education, the Vocational Division and the Aid for Exceptional Children.

 

HB 2897 passed by a vote of 97-0 and will now be sent to the Senate. It would make it optional for school zone flashing beacons to be active when students are present at a school for student activities occurring outside of a school’s regular hours.

 

HB 4497 passed by a vote of 100-0 and will now be sent to the Senate. This bill would require an automated defibrillator device and a trained device operator be present at all secondary school athletic events and practices. The bill also requires action plans to be posted and defibrillators to be present on school or event grounds. The devices must be as close to the events and practices as practical. Once enacted, it will be called the Alex Miller Law in memory of the Roane High School football player who died during a game last year.

 

HB 4535 passed by a vote of 94-0. This bill would add four student aide titles to the class titles for school service personnel. Those new titles are:

  • AIDE V: Special Education Assistant Teacher- Temporary Authorization
  • AIDE V: Special Education Assistant Teacher
  • AIDE VI: Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher- Temporary Authorization
  • AIDE VI: Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher

HB 4804 passed by a vote of 96-0. This bill would allow county boards to develop teacher leader programs to help with teacher induction and professional growth. The county board may adopt a salary supplement to provide additional compensation to teachers who are teacher leaders. The bill would require the Department of Education to allocate $100,000 over five years to assist county boards with the design and implementation of a teacher leader program.

 

HB 4925 passed by a vote of 97-0. This bill would require the West Virginia Secondary Schools Athletic Commission to recognize private, parochial or church schools or schools of a religious order or other nonpublic schools that meet the requirements of the WVSSAC for nonparticipating school or team members. This bill does not allow non-member schools to compete in WV, but is needed to allow them to compete in certain national events.


February 25, 2020

It was another busy day at the capitol. All eyes were on SJR 9 again today as it was still on third reading after being laid over yesterday. SJR 9 is the proposed constitutional amendment that would give the Legislature the ability to lower personal property taxes. Personal property taxes account for over $380 million for county schools through the counties’ regular and excess levies. An amendment to the constitution requires a 2/3 majority vote which means 23 votes would have been needed to pass. The resolution failed with a vote of 18-16. You can find WVEA's statement on the resolution's failure on our Dedicated Teachers Facebook page. 

There were several other bills in the Senate today.

  • SB 38: This bill would allow county boards to offer students in grades 9 and up a social studies elective in sacred texts or comparative religions. It was on third reading and laid over one day. It will continue to be on third reading tomorrow.
  • SB 614: This is a follow-up to a bill passed last year. During the 2019 session, legislators passed a bill that created the Safe School Fund and required that all special education classrooms have cameras. Although that bill was signed into law last year, there was not enough funding for every school in the state to install the cameras. SB 614 would require the WV Department of Education to allocate funding for the Safe Schools Fund based on the remaining need for video cameras in each district until all districts are in compliance. It was also on third reading and passed by a vote of 33-0 and will now be sent to the House.
  • SB 775: This bill would require at least two water bottle filling stations be included in newly built and renovated schools. It was on second reading with no amendments. It will be on third reading tomorrow.
  • SB 842: This bill would require the State Superintendent to create the Behavior Interventionalist Program. The program would run for five years in two counties. The state superintendent would use the following criteria when choosing the two counties: counties with a high number of students with an IEP, high number of students with behavior issues and the resources available to hire and train someone for this position. The chosen counties then may create a new position titled Behavior Interventionalist. A committee consisting of principals, teachers, classroom aids and teacher organizations will convene to decide on the requirements for the position. It was on second reading and will be on third reading tomorrow.
  • SB 616: This is the grievance process bill and contains a number of provisions that are of concern to WVEA. They include:
    • Language allowing the prevailing party in an appeal to the Circuit or Supreme Court to recover court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees from the opposing party for the appeal to the court.
    • Proposed language stating that “When the grievant has been discharged, suspended without pay, or demoted or reclassified resulting in a loss of compensation or benefits, he or she may proceed directly to level two.” Currently the grievant can go directly to level three and waive levels one and two in those situations. This delays the decision for the grievant and extends the process unnecessarily.

It was on second reading today with no amendments made. It will be on third reading tomorrow.

 

There were also several bills in the House today.

  • HB 4780: This bill would allow the county boards of education to offer students in grades 9 and up the following classes:
    • An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament of the Bible;
    • An elective social studies course on the New Testament of the Bible; or
    • An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament of the Bible.

The bill requires the State Board of Education to include course standards in the program of studies for West Virginia schools, including the teacher qualifications and required professional development. The bill was on third reading today and passed by a vote of 73-26. I will now be sent to the Senate.

  • SB 725: This bill would require money remaining unappropriated from fiscal year ending June 30, 2020 be given to the State Board of Education, the Vocational Division and the Aid for Exceptional Children. It was on second reading with no amendments offered and will be on third reading tomorrow.
  • HB 2897: It would make it optional for school zone flashing beacons to be active when students are present at a school for student activities occurring outside of a school’s regular hours. This bill was also on second reading today.
  • HB 4497: This bill would require an automated defibrillator device and a trained device operator be present at all secondary school athletic events and practices. The bill also requires action plans to be posted and defibrillators to be present on school or event grounds. The devices must be as close to the events and practices as practical. Once enacted, it will be called the Alex Miller Law in memory of the Roane High School football player who died during a game last year. It will be on third reading tomorrow.
  • HB 4535: This bill would add four student aide titles to the class titles for school service personnel. Those new titles are:
    • AIDE V: Special Education Assistant Teacher- Temporary Authorization
    • AIDE V: Special Education Assistant Teacher
    • AIDE VI: Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher- Temporary Authorization
    • AIDE VI: Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher

This bill was on second reading and will be on third reading tomorrow.

  • HB 4804: This bill would allow county boards to develop teacher leader programs to help with teacher induction and professional growth. The county board may adopt a salary supplement to provide additional compensation to teachers who are teacher leaders. The bill would require the Department of Education to allocate $100,000 over five years to assist county boards with the design and implementation of a teacher leader program. It will also be on third reading tomorrow.
  • HB 4925: This bill would require the West Virginia Secondary Schools Athletic Commission to recognize private, parochial or church schools or schools of a religious order or other nonpublic schools that meet the requirements of the WVSSAC for nonparticipating school or team members. This bill does not allow non-member schools to compete in WV, but is needed to allow them to compete in certain national events. It was on second reading and will be on third reading tomorrow. 

February 24, 2020

There are just two weeks left in the Legislative Session and crossover day is on Wednesday. This means you can expect the next several days to be very busy. Today began in the House with a public hearing on HB 4780. This bill would allow the county boards of education to offer students in grades 9 and up the following classes:

  1. An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament of the Bible;
  2. An elective social studies course on the New Testament of the Bible; or
  3. An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament of the Bible.

The bill requires the State Board of Education to include course standards in the program of studies for West Virginia schools, including the teacher qualifications and required professional development. This bill was also on second reading today. No amendments were offered and it will be on third reading/passage tomorrow.

HB 3127 was on third reading in the House today and passed by a vote of 61-38. This is the House version of the Tim Tebow bill. The bill would allow home-schooled students to participate in secondary extracurricular and interscholastic activities. There are some requirements of the Tebow student written in the bill including: demonstrating satisfactory evidence of academic progress for one year; be enrolled in at least one virtual course; comply with the disciplinary rules of the SSAC and the county board; and agrees to obey all rules of the SSAC parental consents, physical exams and vaccinations. The bill will now be sent to the Senate.

There were several bills on first reading in the House. SB 725 would require money remaining unappropriated from fiscal year ending June 30, 2020 be given to the State Board of Education, the Vocational Division and the Aid for Exceptional Children. The bill will be on second reading/amendment stage tomorrow.

HB 2897 was also on first reading and will be on second reading tomorrow. It would make it optional for school zone flashing beacons to be active when students are present at a school for student activities occurring outside of a school’s regular hours.

HB 4497 would require an automated defibrillator device and a trained device operator be present at all secondary school athletic events and practices. The bill also requires action plans to be posted and defibrillators to be present on school or event grounds. The devices must be as close to the events and practices as practical. Once enacted, it will be called the Alex Miller Law in memory of the Roane High School football player who died during a game last year. It will be on second reading tomorrow.

Also on first reading was HB 4535. This bill would add four student aide titles to the class titles for school service personnel. Those new titles are:

  • AIDE V: Special Education Assistant Teacher- Temporary Authorization
  • AIDE V: Special Education Assistant Teacher
  • AIDE VI: Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher- Temporary Authorization
  • AIDE VI: Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher

This bill will be on second reading tomorrow.

HB 4804 will also be on second reading tomorrow. This bill would allow county boards to develop teacher leader programs to help with teacher induction and professional growth. The county board may adopt a salary supplement to provide additional compensation to teachers who are teacher leaders. The bill would require the Department of Education to allocate $100,000 over five years to assist county boards with the design and implementation of a teacher leader program.

Finally HB 4925 would require the West Virginia Secondary Schools Athletic Commission to recognize private, parochial or church schools or schools of a religious order or other nonpublic schools that meet the requirements of the WVSSAC for nonparticipating school or team members. This bill does not allow non-member schools to compete in WV, but is needed to allow them to compete in certain national events. It will be on second reading tomorrow.

There were also a multitude of education-related bills on the Senate Floor today. The biggest of those were SJR 9 and SB 837 which were both on third reading. SJR 9 is the proposed constitutional amendment that would give the Legislature the ability to lower personal property taxes. Personal property taxes account for over $380 million for county schools through the counties’ regular and excess levies.

SB 837 would be dependent on the passage of SJR 9 as it will eliminate the manufacturing and inventory taxes and automobile personal property tax over six years. This bill also establishes the replacement fund to replace the money lost in SJR 9. This would include a .5% sales tax increase, raising the tax on cigarettes from $1.20 per 20 cigarettes to $2.00, raising the tax on other tobacco products from 12% of the wholesale price to 50%, and raising the tax on vaping products from 7.5 cents per milliliter to 50% of the wholesale price.

After hours of debate, SB 837 passed by a vote of 17-16 with Republican Senators Hamilton and Pitsenbarger joining Democrats in a “no” vote and Senator Mann absent. However, without the passage the of SJR 9 this bill is irrelevant. SJR requires a 2/3 majority vote to pass. Republican senators obviously believe they do not have the votes as SJR 9 was laid over one day and will be on third reading tomorrow.

SB 723 passed by a vote of 33-0 and will now be sent to the House. This bill would require the Department of Education to analyze data collected statewide on school disciplinary actions. Based on this data, they are then required to develop a program to address the number of disciplinary actions taken against students. The Department must also report their findings to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability every two years beginning in 2022.

SB 691 was on third reading and passed by a vote of 33-0. This bill says alternative programs to prepare teachers adopted or established by the State Board of Education are separate from programs already established in code. It will now be sent to the House.

SB 38 was on second reading. This bill would allow county boards to offer students in grades 9 and up a social studies elective in sacred texts or comparative religions. No amendments were offered and it will be on third reading tomorrow.

SB 614 was also on second reading today. This is a follow-up to a bill passed last year. During the 2019 session, legislators passed a bill that created the Safe School Fund and required that all special education classrooms have cameras. Although that bill was signed into law last year, there was not enough funding for every school in the state to install the cameras. SB 614 would require the WV Department of Education to allocate funding for the Safe Schools Fund based on the remaining need for video cameras in each district until all districts are in compliance. Once all districts have cameras in every special education classroom, then the distribution of funds will go back to normal (dividing total amount of appropriation by total number of public schools). No amendments were offered and it will be on third reading tomorrow.

SB 775 was on first reading and will be on second reading tomorrow. This bill would require at least two water bottle filling stations be included in newly built and renovated schools.

SB 842 was also on first reading. This was an originating bill in the Senate Education Committee last week. It would require the State Superintendent to create the Behavior Interventionalist Program. The program would run for five years in two counties. The state superintendent would use the following criteria when choosing the two counties: counties with a high number of students with an IEP, high number of students with behavior issues and the resources available to hire and train someone for this position. The chosen counties then may create a new position titled Behavior Interventionalist. A committee consisting of principals, teachers, classroom aids and teacher organizations will convene to decide on the requirements for the position. The county board would designate this position as either professional or service personnel.

SB 616, the grievance process bill, was reported to the floor from the Senate Judiciary Committee. Since crossover day is Wednesday, unanimous consent was given for the bill to be read a first time today as well. This bill contains a number of provisions that are of concern to WVEA. They include:

  • Language allowing the prevailing party in an appeal to the Circuit or Supreme Court to recover court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees from the opposing party for the appeal to the court.
  • Proposed language stating that “When the grievant has been discharged, suspended without pay, or demoted or reclassified resulting in a loss of compensation or benefits, he or she may proceed directly to level two.” Currently the grievant can go directly to level three and waive levels one and two in those situations. This delays the decision for the grievant and extends the process unnecessarily.

This bill will now be on second reading/ amendment stage tomorrow.

The House Education Committee met this afternoon to discuss several bills. First up was SB 241. The committee discussed a committee substitute version of this bill that is very different from the version that passed the Senate. This version of the bill requires the State Board of Education to propose revisions to the calculation of the allowance for service personnel in step 2 of the funding formula. This would provide additional funded service personnel positions for counties with lower population-density covering large geographic areas. The Board must report the proposal to the Legislature before September 1, 2020. This committee substitute passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the House Floor.

They also discussed SB 652. This bill would allow the School Building Authority to look at a contractor’s experience, past performance, violations and other things before granting a contract. It would also allow them to suspend a contract if they feel a contractor is not meeting their requirements. The bill passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the floor.


February 21, 2020

It was an unusually busy Friday at the Capitol. The morning began with a House Finance Committee meeting to discuss HB 4497. The purpose of this bill is to require an automated defibrillator device and a trained device operator be present at all secondary school athletic events. The bill also requires action plans to be posted and defibrillators to be present on school or event grounds. Once enacted, it will be called the Alex Miller Law in memory of the Roane High School football player who died during a game last year.

An amendment was proposed that would require the device also be present at practices and make the device as close to the event or practice as practical. The amendment passed and the amended bill passed out of the committee. It will now be sent to the House Floor.

The House Education Committee also met this morning. First on their agenda was HB 4925. The purpose of this bill is to require the West Virginia Secondary Schools Athletic Commission to recognize private, parochial or church schools or schools of a religious order or other nonpublic schools that meet the requirements of the WVSSAC for nonparticipating school or team members. This bill does allow non-member schools to compete in WV, but is needed to allow them to compete in certain national events. The bill passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the House Floor.

The committee also discussed HB 4535. This bill would add four student aide titles to the class titles for school personnel. Those new titles are:

  • AIDE V: Special Education Assistant Teacher- Temporary Authorization
  • AIDE V: Special Education Assistant Teacher
  • AIDE VI: Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher- Temporary Authorization
  • AIDE VI: Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher

The bill passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the House Floor.

The Senate Education Committee also met today to discuss SB 661. This bill would replace the minimum minutes of instructional time required per day with a requirement for an average of five hours per day throughout the instructional term. It would also require that public notice for hearings about a county’s school calendar be posted in the newspaper and on the county board’s website. The bill passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the floor.

The Senate Judiciary Committee met today and took up SB 616. This bill contains a number of provisions that are of concern to WVEA. They include:

  • New language allows the prevailing party in an appeal to the Circuit or Supreme Court to recover court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees from the opposing party for the appeal to the court. Previously this was limited to the grievant recovering charges.
  • The proposed language states that “When the grievant has been discharged, suspended without pay, or demoted or reclassified resulting in a loss of compensation or benefits, he or she may proceed directly to level two.” Currently the grievant can go directly to level three and waive levels one and two in those situations. This delays the decision for the grievant and extends the process unnecessarily.

The bill passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the Senate Floor.

There were several education-related bills on the Senate Floor today. SB 723 was on second reading/amendment stage. This bill would require the Department of Education to analyze data collected statewide on school disciplinary actions. Based on this data, they are then required to develop a program to address the number of disciplinary actions taken against students. The Department must also report their findings to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability every two years beginning in 2022. No amendments were offered and it will be on third reading next week.

SB 691 was also on second reading today. This bill says alternative programs to prepare teachers adopted or established by the State Board of Education are separate from programs already established in code. No amendments were offered and it will be on third reading next week.

SJR 9 was on second reading. This is the proposed constitutional amendment that would give the Legislature the ability to lower personal property taxes. Personal property taxes account for over $380 million for county schools through the counties’ regular and excess levies. The Democrats tried to amend the bill so that only the Motor Vehicle tax could be changed but the amendment failed. It will be on third reading next week.

SB 837 would be dependent on the passage of SJR 9 as it will eliminate the manufacturing and inventory taxes and automobile personal property tax over six years. This bill also establishes the replacement fund to replace the money lost in SJR 9. This would include a .5% sales tax increase, raising the tax on cigarettes from $1.20 per 20 cigarettes to $2.00, raising the tax on other tobacco products from 12% of the wholesale price to 50%, and raising the tax on vaping products from 7.5 cents per milliliter to $1.00 per milliliter.

One amendment was proposed for this bill. Senator Takubo amended the bill to change the vaping tax increase from $1.00 per milliliter to 50% of the wholesale price. The amendment was adopted and the bill will be on third reading/passage next week.

On first reading today was SB 38. This bill says that county boards may offer students in grades 9 and up a social studies elective in sacred texts or comparative religions. It will be on second reading next week.

SB 614 was also on first reading. This is a follow-up to a bill passed last year. During the 2019 session, legislators passed a bill that created the Safe School Fund and required that all special education classrooms have cameras. Although that bill was signed into law last year, there was not enough funding for every school in the state to install the cameras. SB 614 would require the WV Department of Education to allocate funding for the Safe Schools Fund based on the remaining need for video cameras in each district until all districts are in compliance. Once all districts have cameras in every special education classroom, then the distribution of funds will go back to normal (dividing total amount of appropriation by total number of public schools). It will be on second reading next week.

The House also had several bills on the floor today. SB 623 was on third reading and passed by a vote of 98-0. This bill allows noncitizens of the U.S. to be eligible for a certificate to teach or an alternative program teacher certificate. The bill will is effective from passage.

HB 4408 was on third reading and passed by a vote of 98-0. The purpose of this bill is to require the State Board of Education to develop and implement an online database for the employment of school principals, administrators and central office staff. It will now be sent to the Senate.

HB 4737 was also on third reading and passed by a vote of 96-0. The bill says that if a student is unable to complete the FAFSA due to extenuating family circumstances, as determined by the vice chancellor for administration in consultation with the student’s high school, will not affect the student’s eligibility for state financial aid. It will now be sent to the Senate.

HB 3127 was on second reading. This is the House version of the Tim Tebow bill. The bill would allow home-schooled students to participate in secondary extracurricular and interscholastic activities. There are some requirements of the Tebow student written in the bill including: demonstrating satisfactory evidence of academic progress for one year; be enrolled in at least one virtual course; comply with the disciplinary rules of the SSAC and the county board; and agrees to obey all rules of the SSAC parental consents, physical exams and vaccinations. No amendments were made and it will be on third reading next week.

On first reading today was HB 4780. This bill would allow the county boards of education to offer students in grades 9 and up the following classes:

  1. An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament of the Bible;
  2. An elective social studies course on the New Testament of the Bible; or
  3. An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament of the Bible.

The bill requires the State Board of Education to include course standards in the program of studies for West Virginia schools, including the teacher qualifications and required professional development. The bill will be on second reading next week. A public hearing has been scheduled for this bill on Monday February 24 at 9 AM.


February 20, 2020

As the end of the session gets closer, more and more bills are moving each day. Several bills were on the floor of the Senate today. SB 291 was on third reading and passed by a vote of 34-0. It would require PEIA to treat behavioral/mental health and substance abuse treatment equally to medical and surgical treatment. The bill will now be sent to the House.

SB 691 was on first reading. This bill says alternative programs to prepare teachers adopted or established by the State Board of Education are separate from programs already established in code. It will be on second reading/amendment stage tomorrow.

SB 723 was also on first reading. This bill would require the Department of Education to analyze data collected statewide on school disciplinary actions. Based on this data, they are then required to develop a program to address the number of disciplinary actions taken against students. The Department must also report their findings to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability every two years beginning in 2022. It will be on second reading tomorrow.

SJR 9 was on first reading today. This is the proposed constitutional amendment that would give the Legislature the ability to lower personal property taxes. Personal property taxes account for over $380 million for county schools through the counties’ regular and excess levies. An amendment to the state constitution requires a 2/3 vote in both the Senate and House and a majority vote by the public. It will be on second reading tomorrow.

SB 837 was also on first reading. This is the bill that originated in the Senate Finance Committee  on Monday. This bill would be dependent on the passage of SJR 9 as it will eliminate the manufacturing and inventory taxes and automobile personal property tax over six years. This bill also establishes the replacement fund to replace the money lost in SJR 9. This would include a .5% sales tax increase, raising the tax on cigarettes from $1.20 per 20 cigarettes to $2.00, raising the tax on other tobacco products from 12% of the wholesale price to 50%, and raising the tax on vaping products from 7.5 cents per milliliter to $1.00 per milliliter. The bill will be on second reading tomorrow.

Over in the House, SB 623 was on second reading/amendment stage. This bill allows noncitizens of the U.S. to be eligible for a certificate to teach or an alternative program teacher certificate. No amendments were offered and it will be on third reading tomorrow.

HB 4408 was on second reading and also had no amendments. The purpose of this bill is to require the State Board of Education to develop and implement an online database for the employment of school principals, administrators and central office staff. It will be on third reading tomorrow.

Also on second reading today was HB 4737. The bill says that if a student is unable to complete the FAFSA due to extenuating family circumstances, as determined by the vice chancellor for administration in consultation with the student’s high school, will not affect the student’s eligibility for state financial aid. No amendments were made and it will be on third reading tomorrow.

HB 3127 was on first reading today. This is the House version of the Tim Tebow bill. The bill would allow home-schooled students to participate in secondary extracurricular and interscholastic activities. There are some requirements of the Tebow student written in the bill including: demonstrating satisfactory evidence of academic progress for one year; be enrolled in at least one virtual course; comply with the disciplinary rules of the SSAC and the county board; and agrees to obey all rules of the SSAC parental consents, physical exams and vaccinations. It will be on second reading tomorrow.

The Senate Education Committee met this afternoon with a full agenda. First up was SB 750. This bill would require the county boards of education to develop and adopt an Extended Learning Opportunities policy that includes alternative educational opportunities for elective course credit that recognizes learning opportunities outside of the traditional classroom. Non-profits, businesses, parents and teachers may apply and submit proposals for these opportunities. The bill passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the Senate Floor.

SB 775 would require at least two water bottle filling stations be included in newly built and renovated schools. The bill passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the floor.

There were also two originating bills discussed in the Senate Education Committee today. The first originating bill would allow county boards of education to use alternative assessments such as the ACT. This bill was laid over to a future date.

The second originating bill would require the State Superintendent to create the Behavior Interventionalist Program. The program would run for five years in two counties. The state superintendent would use the following criteria when choosing the two counties: counties with a high number of students with an IEP, high number of students with behavior issues and the resources available to hire and train someone for this position. The chosen counties then may create a new position titled Behavior Interventionalist that would be an at-will employee. The county board would designate this position as either professional or service personnel.

An amendment was made to the bill that struck the language that made the position at-will. It also said that a committee consisting of principals, teachers, classroom aids and teacher organizations will convene to decide on the requirements for the position. The amended bill passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the floor.

The House Education Committee also met today to discuss an originating bill there. Their originating bill deals with calculating the net enrollment for homeschool students who participate in public school extracurricular events (per the Tim Tebow bill). The bill says those students who are enrolled in at least one virtual class will count at .30% in the funding formula which equals about $700 per student. It passed out of the committee and will now go to the House Finance Committee. 


February 19, 2020

Today started in the Senate Floor session where SB 291 was still on second reading today after being laid over yesterday. It would require PEIA to treat behavioral/mental health and substance abuse treatment equally to medical and surgical treatment. No amendments were made and it will be on third reading/passage tomorrow.

SB 652 was on third reading today and passed by a vote of 34-0. This bill would allow the School Building Authority to look at a contractor’s experience, past performance, violations and other things before granting a contract. It would also allow them to suspend a contract if they feel a contractor is not meeting their requirements. It will now be sent to the House.

In the House SB 623 was on first reading. This bill allows noncitizens of the U.S. to be eligible for a certificate to teach or an alternative program teacher certificate. It will be on second reading/amendment stage tomorrow.

HB 4408 was on first reading today.  The purpose of this bill is to require the State Board of Education to develop and implement an online database for the employment of school principals, administrators and central office staff. It will be on second reading tomorrow.

HB 4737 was also on first reading today. The bill says that if a student is unable to complete the FAFSA due to extenuating family circumstances, as determined by the vice chancellor for administration in consultation with the student’s high school, will not affect the student’s eligibility for state financial aid. It will be on second reading tomorrow.

The Senate Judiciary Committee met this afternoon to discuss SB 38. This bill is a companion bill to HB 4780 which began moving on the House today. The original bill would allow the county boards of education to offer students in grades 9 and up the following classes:

  1. An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament of the Bible;
  2. An elective social studies course on the New Testament of the Bible; or
  3. An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament of the Bible.

However, Senator Baldwin made an amendment that changed the bill entirely. Instead of the language stated above, the bill now says that county boards may offer students in grades 9 and up a social studies elective in sacred texts or comparative religions. This amended version of the bill passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the Senate Floor. 

The Senate Finance Committee took up SB 614. This is a follow-up to a bill passed last year. During the 2019 session, legislators passed a bill that created the Safe School Fund and required that all special education classrooms have cameras. Although that bill was signed into law last year, there was not enough funding for every school in the state to install the cameras. SB 614 would require the WV Department of Education to allocate funding for the Safe Schools Fund based on the remaining need for video cameras in each district until all districts are in compliance. Once all districts have cameras in every special education classroom, then the distribution of funds will go back to normal (dividing total amount of appropriation by total number of public schools). The bill passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the Senate Floor.

The House Education Committee also met this afternoon to discuss several bills. HB 2897 deals with speeding restrictions in school zones. It would make it optional for school zone flashing beacons to be active when students are present at a school for student activities occurring outside of a school’s regular hours. The bill passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the House Floor.

HB 4780 was also discussed in the committee. This bill would allow the county boards of education to offer students in grades 9 and up the following classes:

  1. An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament of the Bible;
  2. An elective social studies course on the New Testament of the Bible; or
  3. An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament of the Bible.

The bill requires the State Board of Education to include course standards in the program of studies for West Virginia schools, including the teacher qualifications and required professional development. The bill passed out of the committee and will now be sent to the House Floor. A public hearing has been scheduled for this bill on Monday February 24 at 9 AM.