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Legislative Update

Week Three

It was a busy week under the dome. WVEA President Dale Lee and AFT-WV President Fred Albert presented the findings from the Solutions for Success focus groups to the Senate Education Committee yesterday. The Senate Education Committee received copies of the Solutions for Success report. After the presentation, President Lee answered questions from the committee. President Lee also spoke at a news conference that can be watched on WVEA’s facebook page.

The following education-related bills passed through one chamber this week:

  • School Closing Impact Statement bill (SB 51) – The bill shall give the impact statement substantial weight when deciding on any proposal to close or consolidate a school. Areas to be addressed are student transportation time, the financial health of the county, the enrollment of the school(s), the school personnel employed, and the community. Bill status: This bill passed the Senate floor on January 30 with a vote of 32-0-2 and sits in the House Education Committee.

  • Adult Education Taskforce bill (SB 222) – The bill creates a taskforce to find direct funding options for adult education. Bill status: This bill passed the Senate floor on January 31 with a 31-0-3 vote and sits in the House Education Committee.

  • Official Motto on Display bill (SB 251) – The bill requires the display of (‘In God We Trust’) the official motto of the United States in public schools and institutions of higher education. Bill status: This bill passed the Senate floor on January 30 with a vote of 32-0-2 and sits in the House Education Committee.

  • State Fire Marshal’s bill (SB 275) – The bill adds State Fire Marshals to the statute that included law enforcement and first responders for receiving information on school safety requirements. Bill status: This bill passed the Senate floor today with a 30-0-4 vote and will be reported to the House.

  • WV Guardian program bill (SB 282) – The bill creates a program where county boards of education can contract school safety services from veterans and retired law enforcement. Bill status: This bill passed the Senate floor on January 30 with a vote of 32-0-2 and goes to the House Education Committee, then House Judiciary Committee.

  • Summer Feeding Program bill (SB 306) – The bill establishes a summer feeding program.  Bill status: This bill passed the Senate floor on January 31 with a30-1-3 vote and sits in the House Education Committee.

  • Local School Improvement Councils bill (SB 428) – The bill revised the requirements of local school improvement councils. It clarifies requirements for minute and establishes training annually. Bill status: This bill passed the Senate floor on January 31 with a vote of 31-0-3 and sits in the House Education Committee.

  • Grievance Procedure bill (SB 461) – The bill relates to the WV public employees’ grievance procedure. All grievances would have to have a notarized signature to be filed. All level three grievance decisions will now be appealable to the Intermediate Court instead of Kanawha County Circuit Court, and the prevailing party in these appeals may collect costs from the losing party. Bill status: This bill passed the Senate floor today with a 29-1-4 vote and will be reported to the House.

  • School Building Authority bill (HB 2380) – The bill relates to the School Building Authority removing obsolete sections of code and updates it. Bill status: This bill passed the House floor today with a vote of 92-1-7 and will be reported to the Senate.

  • Transportation Certifications bill (HB 2443) – The bill relates to service employees with National Association for Pupil Transportation Certification (holding this makes them eligible for supervisory positions). Bill status: This bill passed the House floor today with a 79-14-7 vote and will be reported to the Senate.

  • Nonresident Student’s Transfer bill (HB 2596) – The bill would allow a school to deny a transfer of a student with discipline referrals. Bill status: This bill passed the House Floor on February 1 with a vote of 99-0-1 and sits in the Senate Education Committee.

  • General Education Teachers’ Rights bill (HB 2850) – The bill clarifying entitlements for the general education teacher who has students with exceptionalities in their classroom. It also states that a classroom assistant shall be provided if it is written in the student’s IEP. Bill status: This bill passed the House floor on January 31 with a 96-0-4 vote and sits in the Senate Education Committee.

  • Student Discipline bill (HB 2890) – The bill modifies the authority of the teacher to remove a student from the class. It states the student cannot be returned to the class the rest of the day, states the teacher has 24 hours to complete the discipline form, and requires the county to implement a tier system policy to provide a framework for discipline with teacher input. Bill status: This bill passed the House floor on January 31 with a vote of 79-16-5 and sits in the Senate Education Committee.

Want to be heard this session? Now is a great time to contact your legislators so they know how you feel about the education-related bills. Also, follow our daily Lobbyline, which reports education-related bills that move through committees and on the floor.

Some education-related bills have moved in the second week of the legislative session. The bills that have passed one chamber this week include:

  • Teachers’ Aides Classifications bill (HB 2602) – This bill corrects last year’s bill that erroneously deleted sections of code concerning Aide V (special education) and Aide VI (Behavior Disorder).  The definitions are added back to the code in this bill. Bill status: The bill passed the House with a 92-0-8 vote and will head to the Senate Education committee.

  • Concealed Weapon on College Campus bill (SB 10) – This bill allows those licensed individuals to carry a concealed deadly weapon on campus at a state institution of higher education. Bill status: The bill passed the Senate with a 29-4-1 vote and will now go to the House Judiciary committee.

  • Student Journalist bill (SB 121) – This bill provides framework and parameters for student journalists in public high schools, colleges, and universities. Bill status: The bill passed the Senate with a 32-0-2 vote and will head to the House Education committee.

  • Student Athlete Transfer bill (SB 262) – This bill allows students to transfer schools one time and retain their athletic eligibility. Bill status: The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 27-5-2 and will now go to the House Education committee.

  • Boards of Education positions bill (SB 264) – This bill prevents any person who has been convicted of a crime involving a minor to hold a position on boards of education. Bill status: The bill passed the Senate with a 32-0-2 vote and will now head to the House.

Don’t forget to reach out to your legislators about the education-related bills moving through the Legislature. They need to hear your perspective on these bills!

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We are ten days in the 2023 legislative session. Last week, the Senate suspended the rules and were passing bills. A total of 23 bills were passed with no discussion of the bills, no copies to review, and new senators who had no idea what they were voting for. Bills passed pertaining to our issues included the following:

  • This bill (SB 127) is in response to hospitals in the northern part of the state threatening to discontinue service to PEIA patients July 1, 2023. This is a bipartisan bill designed to increase PEIA reimbursement to hospitals.
  • The anti-critical race theory legislation also passed the senate with the rules suspended. This is the same bill that did not make the deadline last legislative session. Senator Tarr’s anti critical race theory bill (SB 130) is a solution in search of a problem. The fate of this bill now lies with the House of Delegates.
  • Another bill passing the WV Senate on the opening day will require each county Board of Education to ensure all meetings are open to the public through in-person attendance and broadcast live on its website (SB 139).
  • And a bill to allow county Boards of Education participating in a multicounty vocational center to determine a career technical education program be part of the local high school in order to better serve students (SB 145).

House and Senate committees have acted on a few education-related bills. These are the bills we are following:

  • Classroom aides bill (HB 2003) sponsored by Speaker Hanshaw provides funding for public elementary schools to hire teacher aides who can help students meet requirements for reading and math by third grade. The bill provides a multi-tiered system of support for both reading and math using screening and benchmarking. Bill status: It was reported out of House Education with amendments and referred to the House Finance Committee.
  • Athletic eligibility and transfers bill (SB 262), which would allow a student athlete one transfer of schools during their 9-12 school years while retaining athletic eligibility. This transfer does not limit or restrict a student from transferring back to their residential district and the WVSSAC may make eligibility determinations on a case-by-case basis. Bill status: The bill advanced from Senate Education Committee and moves to the Senate.
  • ESP classification clarification bill (HB 2602) corrects last year’s bill that erroneously deleted sections of code concerning Aide V (special education) and Aide VI (Behavior Disorder). The definitions are added back to the code in this bill. The bill passed the committee and will be reported to the floor with the recommendation it does pass but first be reported to the Committee on Finance. Bill status: The bill was passed out of the House Education Committee and is on first reading in the House today.
  • Child sexual violence prevention bill (SB 124) authorizes the state Board of Education to create a program for child sexual abuse prevention and in-service training. This bill is important because it brings awareness to students, even if such incidents aren’t occurring in our schools. Bill status: The bill passed on third reading in the Senate today and will head to the House.

Make your voice heard throughout this session!

State lawmakers need to hear from you! Contact them today and urge them to make public education a priority and to keep their promises to provide resources for students and educators.

Call your lawmakers and email them – make your voice heard. Tell them your story and the stories of our students and how their actions, or inactions, impact academic success. Remember, you are the true experts of public education! 

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