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Lobbyline

Friday, February 3, 2023

The grievance procedure bill (SB 461) passed in the Senate today by a vote of 29-1 with four absent. This bill has several concerning provisions including requiring a notarized signature on each grievance, requiring all level three appeals to go to the intermediate court instead of Kanawha circuit court, and allows the ability for the agency to recover attorney fees and costs from the grievant if the agency prevails on the appeal. This will have a chilling effect to redress issues through this process. Also, the Senate passed the bill, adding the state fire marshal’s office to the list of law enforcement agencies that would receive information on school emergency plans (SB 275).  

Two retirement related bills were on first reading but both were held over, keeping their place in the Senate calendar, until Monday (SB 449 & SB 451).

Today in the House, the Committee Substitute for (HB 2380) relating to School Building Authority passed by a vote of 92-1 with 7 members absent.  This bill simply removes obsolete sections of code and updates it. 

The Committee Substitute for (HB 2443) allowing service employees with National Association for Pupil Transportation Certification to be eligible for supervisory positions passed by a vote of 79-14 with 7 members absent.

The Committee Substitute for (HB 2832) clarifying appropriate and inappropriate duties for school counselors and providing the definition of a school counselor was once again laid over and will retain its place on 2nd reading Monday, February 6.

Finally, the Committee Substitute for HB 3055 moved from first reading to second reading. This bill creates a transitional math class for high school students in the vocation/trades programs.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

President Dale Lee, along with AFT-WV President Fred Albert, presented the findings from the Solutions for Success focus groups to the Senate Education Committee this morning. After the presentation, President Lee answered questions from the committee.

Also discussed in Senate Education were bills requiring all schools to instruct students on Holocaust and other genocides (SB 216), requiring boards of education to provide free feminine hygiene products in grades six through twelve (SB 489), and a house bill relating to authorizing legislative rules regarding higher education (HB 2800). All three bills passed through committee, but one was amended. Senator Roberts from Raleigh County offered an amendment to remove the words private, parochial, and denominational not only from the newly added section of SB 216, but from that entire section of code under the premise the state should not mandate instruction in non public schools. After some debate, the amendment was adopted. Senator Oliverio from Monongalia County then offered an amendment to add financial literacy into statute, and this amendment was also adopted. Senator Trump from Morgan offered the final amendment to add by the completion of twelfth grade to the bill, and this amendment also passed. The bill as amended passed the committee and will be reported to the Senate floor as Committee Substitute for SB 216.

On the Senate floor session today, two bills were on second reading and advanced to third without amendments. One bill adds State Fire Marshals to statute included with law enforcement and first responders that receive information on school safety requirements (SB 275) and the other bill is the Committee Substitute for the bill relating to the WV public employees grievance procedure (SB 461). If passed, the grievance bill would require grievance forms to be notarized. Another change would be all level three grievance decisions would be appealable to the intermediate court instead of the Kanawha County circuit court, and the prevailing party in these appeals may collect costs from the losing party. Both bills will be up for passage tomorrow.

Today on the House floor session, an amendment was offered for Committee Substitute for HB 2380 to clarify the funding for the School Building Authority will go directly to the School Building Authority general fund.  The amendment passed and the bill will be advanced to third reading. The Committee Substitute for the National Association for Pupil Transportation Certifications bill (HB 2443) also advanced to third reading. This bill would allow those with the certification and bus driving experience to apply for Transportation Director positions.  The Committee Substitute for the bill clarifying appropriate and inappropriate duties for school counselors (HB 2832) was on second reading, but it was laid over for one day. It will be on second reading again tomorrow and amendments are expected. This is the fourth delay for the bill.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

During the Senate floor session, a bill adding State Fire Marshals to statute included with law enforcement and first responders that receive information on school safety requirements (SB 275) and the Committee Substitute for the bill relating to the WV public employees grievance procedure (SB 461) were on first reading and advanced to second. If passed, the grievance bill would require grievance forms to be notarized. Another change would be all level three grievance decisions would be appealable to the intermediate court instead of the circuit court, and the prevailing party in these appeals may collect costs from the losing party. Both bills will be on second reading tomorrow.

The Senate Pensions Committee met this afternoon and took up the Committee Substitute for a bill relating to the Teachers’ Retirement System and the Teachers’ Defined Contribution Retirement System (SB 451). The bill limits the ability to combine public employees’ and teachers’ retirement credit into the Teachers’ Retirement System for those hired after July 1, 2015. The committee also discussed a bill that would change the required medical examination to terminate disability benefits to either virtual or in person (SB 450).

Over in the House, the Committee Substitute for the bill clarifying appropriate and inappropriate duties for school counselors (HB 2832) was on second reading, but it was postponed for one day. This is the third delay for the bill. It will be on second reading again tomorrow and amendments are expected.

Two education bills were on first reading and advanced to second. The Committee Substitute for the School Building Authority bill (HB 2380) and the Committee Substitute for the National Association for Pupil Transportation Certifications bill (HB 2443). The SBA bill removes or revises obsolete, outdated provisions and the transportation bill clarifies that someone who applies for the Director of Transportation must have driving experience. Both bills will be on second reading tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Tuesday morning started off in the Senate Education Committee.  The first bill discussed would add State Fire Marshals to statute included with law enforcement and first responders that receive information on school safety requirements (SB 275).  The next bill provides funding for CPR instruction to high school students (SB 469).  This bill provides the funding for high school seniors to take CPR training during their high school experience. The counties will make a request to the state department of education to receive the funding.  All three bills will be reported to the floor with the recommendation they do pass, but SB 469 will first be reported to the Committee on Finance.

During the Senate floor session, the three education related bills on third reading all passed with a 31-0 vote with 3 absent. Those bills were the Committee Substitute for the bill creating a taskforce to find direct funding options for adult education (SB 222), the bill that establishes a summer feeding program (SB 306), and the bill revising requirements of local school improvement councils (SB 428).

Over in the House, the Committee Substitute for the bill clarifying entitlements for the general education teacher who has students with exceptionalities in their classroom (HB 2850) was on third reading and passed by a vote of 96-0 with 4 absent. The Committee Substitute states that a classroom assistant shall be provided if it is written in the student’s IEP.

Also on third reading, but with the right to amend, was the Committee Substitute for the bill modifying student discipline (HB 2890). The Committee Substitute allows placement in an Alternative School setting, if the county has one, in place of suspension.  Delegate Elliott Pritt offered five amendments to the bill. The first was to clarify what “personality conflict” means and clarifying language on reassigning a student if another class is offered.  The amendment failed by a vote of 18-78 with 4 absent.  The second amendment Delegate Pritt offered would clarify that a student who has an IEP or a 504 plan, the new behavioral plan would not supersede the previous plan.  The amendment also failed.  The third amendment offered by Delegate Pritt would make sure the student removed from the classroom has instruction while out of the classroom.  The amendment failed by a vote of 17-79 and 4 absent.  The fourth amendment offered by Delegate Pritt would require reporting of discipline infractions to the State Superintendent and ultimately LOCEA.  The amendment failed by a vote of 14-82 with 4 members absent.  The fifth and final amendment offered by Delegate Pritt would establish a SAT team after the second exemption from class to address the behavior issue.  The motion failed by a vote of 25-71 with 4 absent.  There being no other amendments, the Committee Substitute for HB 2890 passed by a vote of 79-16 with 5 absent.

The Committee Substitute for the bill to modify when a nonresident student’s transfer may be denied (HB 2596) was on second reading. This bill would allow a school to deny a transfer of a student with discipline referral forms.  Delegate Summers offered an amendment to strike the attendance and discipline options as reasons to deny the transfer out of the bill.  The amendment was adopted 52-40 with 8 members absent.  The bill as amended will  advance to third reading and will be up for passage tomorrow, February 1. This effectively guts the legislation.

After being postponed twice, the Committee Substitute for the bill clarifying appropriate and inappropriate duties for school counselors (HB 2832) advanced to second reading. There, the bill will be amendable.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Day 20 started off with 11:00 floor sessions for both chambers. In the Senate, three education bills were on third reading and all three passed. These bills require an impact statement in certain instances of school closing or consolidation (SB 51), create a program where county boards of education can contract school safety services from veterans and retired law enforcement (SB 282), and require the official motto of the United States in public schools and institutions of higher education (SB 251).

Three additional bills were on second reading in the Senate today. These bills are the Committee Substitute for the bill creating a taskforce to find direct funding options for adult education (SB222), the bill that establishes a summer feeding program (SB 306), and the bill revising requirements of local school improvement councils (SB 428). All three bills advanced without amendments, and will be up for passage tomorrow. No education related bills were on first reading.

During the House floor session, three education bills were on second reading. The bill to modify when a nonresident student’s transfer may be denied (HB 2596) was postponed one day. This bill would allow a school to deny a transfer of a student with discipline referral forms. The Committee Substitute for the bill clarifying entitlements for the general education teacher who has students with exceptionalities in their classroom (HB 2850) advanced to third reading with no amendments. The Committee Substitute states that a classroom assistant shall be provided if it is written in the student’s IEP. The Committee Substitute for the bill modifying student discipline (HB 2890) advanced to third with the right to amend on third reading. The Committee Substitute allows placement in an Alternative School setting if the county has one in place of suspension.  The bill still prohibits a student from coming back into the classroom for the day if the teacher sent them out. 

Postponed again was the Committee Substitute for the bill clarifying appropriate and inappropriate duties for school counselors (HB 2832). This bill originally was on first reading Friday, but was delayed until today. It will be on the calendar again for first reading tomorrow.

Senate Judiciary met this afternoon and discussed the Committee Substitute relating to the WV public employees grievance procedure (SB 461). All grievances would have to have a notarized signature in order to be filed. All level three grievance decisions will now be appealable to the intermediate court instead of the circuit court, and the prevailing party in these appeals may collect costs from the losing party. The motion passed to report the bill to the floor with the recommendation it do pass. 

The House Education Committee also met this afternoon to discuss several bills, including the Senate’s Anti-Critical Race bill.

The bill granting in-state resident status to economic development participants (HB 2279).  The motion passed to report the bill to the floor with the recommendation it do pass but first be referred to the Committee on Finance.

The School Building Authority bill (HB 2380) simply removes outdated sections of code.  A Committee Substitute was offered to clean up language on the funding and removes several sections of code that are no longer relevant.  The Committee Substitute was adopted and will move to the floor with the recommendation it do pass.

The next bill relates to service employees with National Association for Pupil Transportation Certifications (HB 2443).  A Committee Substitute was offered to clarify that someone who applies for the Director of Transportation must have driving experience.  The motion passed to report the bill to the floor with the recommendation it do pass. 

Following the bus driver bill was a bill that raises salaries for school service personnel (HB 2598).  The bill increases salaries for school service personnel by $900 per month.  An amendment was offered by making the effective date July 1, 2023 and for the school year 2023-2024.  The amendment was adopted.  The motion to move the bill to the floor with the recommendation it do pass but first be referred to the Committee on Finance was adopted.

The next bill raises WV teaching salaries (HB 2828).  The bill increases the beginning teacher salary to $44,000 and increases all the steps by $4945 according to information provided by the Department of Education to bring parity to surrounding states.  The motion to move the bill to the floor with the recommendation it do pass but first be referred to the Committee on Finance was adopted.

Both pay raise bills face a tremendous uphill battle to pass, and we will keep you updated each step along the way.

The bill allowing the State Superintendent of schools to automatically suspend certificates of those charge or indictment of certain offenses or revoke certification upon guilty pleas or conviction (HB 2942) was next.  The motion passed to report the bill to the floor with the recommendation it do pass but first be reported to the committee on the Judiciary.

The Anti-Critical Race Theory bill (SB 130) was the final bill discusses.  The bill passed the House last year and was passed by the Senate 1 minute after midnight, so therefore did not pass.  Questions were asked on council regarding the language in the bill.  Delegate Elliott Pritt offered an amendment to add “unsubstantiated” to the language.  He believes if we are collecting data on substantiated complaints, we also need to keep the unsubstantiated data.  The amendment failed.  Delegate Hornbuckle offered an amendment to add “religion” to state no race or religion is superior to another.  The amendment failed 22-3.  Delegate Hornbuckle offered another amendment to add that teachers shall add training in cultural competency.  The amendment failed.  The motion was then made to report SB 130 be reported to the floor with the recommendation it do pass but first be reported to the Committee on Judiciary.  The motion passed 22-3.

Friday, January 27, 2023

We are seventeen days into the 2023 legislative session and the WV Senate has passed fifty-two bills, the House of Delegates has passed nineteen bills, and Governor Justice has signed two bills into law. With forty-three days left to go, there is still a lot of work to do.

In the Senate today, the Committee Substitute requiring an impact statement in school closings or consolidations (SB 51), the bill to display the official motto of the United States in public schools (SB 251), and the Committee Substitute allowing county boards of education to contract veterans and retired law enforcement for school safety (SB 282) all advanced from second to third reading without amendments. The bills will be up for passage Monday.

Three education bills were on first reading in the Senate and advanced to second reading. These bills are the Committee Substitute creating a taskforce to find direct funding options for adult education (SB222), the bill that establishes a summer feeding program (SB 306), and the bill revising requirements of local school improvement councils (SB 428). All three bills will be on second reading Monday.

The Senate once again suspended constitutional rules to introduce and pass a bill today allowing additional funding for charter schools (SB 510). This bill was requested by Governor Justice.

Over in the House of Delegates, a bill passed amending performance evaluations of professional personnel (HB 2597) and states if any area or level of performance is less than accomplished, data and an explanation must be provided.

Three bills were on first reading today. The Committee Substitute modifying when a nonresident student’s transfer may be denied (HB 2596), the Committee Substitute clarifying general education teachers’ entitlements who provide academic support for students identified as having an exceptionality whos least restrictive environment remains the general education classroom (HB 2850), and the Committee Substitute modifying student discipline (HB 2890) all advanced to second reading.

One other bill was on first reading today, but was held over until Monday. The bill clarifies appropriate and inappropriate duties for school counselors (HB 2832).

Don’t forget to check out WVEA’s Week 2 Legislative Update and watch President Dale Lee’s video summarizing his week under the dome.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

This morning in Senate Education, a Committee Substitute was offered for the bill requiring the State Superintendent of Schools to establish a task force to look at alternative funding for adult education (SB 222).  The committee substitute was adopted and will be reported to the floor with the recommendation it do pass.

Next on their agenda was a bill allowing county boards to continue with their feeding programs during the summer and on days there are no school (SB 306).  The committee adopted the bill and will report it to the floor with the recommendation it do pass.

The final bill looks at the requirements of local school improvement councils (SB 428).  The bill allows one of the two service professionals to be a bus driver instead of requiring a bus driver.  It also simplifies the election of the parents on the Council.  The bill requires minutes to be taken at meetings and posted on the school’s website, and also allows Charter Schools to adopt Local School Improvement Councils.  The committee adopted the bill and will report it to the floor with the recommendation it do pass. 

During the Senate Floor session today, three education related bills were on first reading and advanced to second. The Committee Substitute for the bill requiring an impact statement in certain school closings and consolidation (SB 51). The bill shall give the impact statement substantial weight when making a decision 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. The second bill pertains to displaying the official motto of the United States in public schools and institutions of higher education (SB 251). All three bills will be on second reading tomorrow.

Today on the House Floor, there were two education bills on second reading.  The first bill amends performance evaluations of professional personnel (HB 2597) by stating if any area or level of performance is less than accomplished, data and an explanation must be provided.  The second bill authorized legislative rules regarding higher education in the areas of performance based funding formula, tuition and fees, capitol projects and other areas (HB 2800).  Both bills advance to third reading for Friday.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Two education related bills were on first reading. The first amends the performance evaluations of professional personnel by stating if any area or level of performance is less than accomplished, data and an explanation must be provided (HB 2597).  The second bill authorizes legislative rules regarding higher education as it pertains to performance based funding formula, tuition and fees, capitol projects and other rules (HB 2800).

House Education met today and discussed several bills. The first was a bill modifying when a nonresident student’s transfer may be denied (HB 2596).  The bill establishes an open enrollment policy in the county.  This bill can deny the transfer of any student who has been suspended or expelled for various offenses spelled out in the bill or has 10 unexcused absences.  A Committee Substitute was offered to clean up language in the bill.  The Committee Substitute passed the committee and will be reported to the floor with the recommendation it do pass.

The next bill repeals outdated provisions of code relating to the WV graduate college and Marshall University (HB 2835).  The provisions no longer apply. The motion passed and the bill will be reported to the floor with the recommendation it do pass.

A bill clarifying general education teachers entitlements for the classroom (2850) was the next bill discussed. For educators who provide academic support for Special Education students, the bill clarifies the general ed teacher must receive training, the right to reconvene the SAT team, and provides for a teaching assistant if specified in the IEP.  A Committee Substitute was offered to clean up language and to specify the teaching assistant for the student must be included in the IEP.  The Committee Substitute passed the committee and will be reported to the floor with the recommendation it do pass.

Modifying student discipline (HB 2890) was the following bill.  This bill modifies the authority of the teacher to remove a student, 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.  A Committee Substitute was offered to clarify the removed student will be under the supervision of the Principal or their designee.  It also clarifies that not returning to the classroom is for that specific class.  Delegate Tully moved to amend the bill by adding “or may be considered for placement in an alternative learning center if one is available in the county school system” instead of an out of school suspension.  The amendment passed.  A motion was then made that Committee Substitute for HB 2890 as amended do pass and be reported to the floor with the recommendation it do pass.

The final bill would permit administrators and teachers in K-12 schools to be authorized to carry concealed firearms as a designated school protection officer (HB 2549).  The teacher must volunteer, be approved by the principal and the board at a public hearing, go through extensive training, have a psychological evaluation, and must carry the weapon at all times.  A strike and insert amendment was offered that added support personnel working in the school could also be designated as the school protection officer.  It would also allow tasers and stun guns instead of pepper spray or aerosols.  The strike and insert also lists how the program will be funded.  The applicant will have to undergo an examination by the Behavioral Health Center.  School Safety Coordinator Ron Arthur testified at length.  His expressed concerns about having teachers armed in the days there was not an active shooter.    A secondary amendment was offered by Delegate Elliott Pritt to clarify the type of ammunition to be used.  The motion failed.  Delegate Hornbuckle offered an amendment adding the School Protection Officer has no complaints by students or teachers.  The motion failed.  The motion to accept the strike and insert then passed by a vote of 23-2.   HB 2549 as amended then passed out of committee and will be reported to the floor that it do pass but first be reported to the Committee on Judiciary. 

Today in the newly created Senate School Choice committee, a Committee Substitute for SB 47, Creating a Charter School Stimulus Fund was discussed.  The committee substitute increased the initial grant from up to $100,000 to $300,000.  This grant would allow potential charter school applicants the money for transportation, facilities and start up costs before the first year of the charter school’s operation.  Senator Woelfel offered a conceptual amendment that would require the incorporator and the initial board of directors are personally liable to pay back the grant if the school does not open.  The amendment failed.  `The Committee Substitute for SB 47 passed the committee and will be reported to the floor with the recommendation it do pass but first be reported to the Committee on Finance.

During the floor session, the Senate passed a measure allowing students to transfer one time during their high school athletic career (SB 262). The bill passed with 27 yea votes, 5 nay votes with 2 absent and not voting. Among the nay votes were Senators Caputo, Hamilton, Queen, Smith and Woelfel. Also passing in the Senate today was the Committee Substitute for the Student Journalist bill (SB 121) providing a framework and parameters for free expression for student journalists in public high schools, colleges, and universities. The final education bill passing today prohibits individuals who have been convicted of certain crimes against minors from holding positions on boards of education (SB 264).

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

The special education aides and behavior disorder aides bill (HB 2602) passed today during the House Floor Session by a vote of 93-0 with 7 absent.  The bill returns Aide V and Aide VI back to the statute, which were inadvertently deleted.  Speaker Hanshaw’s bill on behalf of the Governor (HB 2776), updating meaning of federal adjusted gross income advanced to third reading.  This bill simply adjusts the dates in the statute to January, 2023 and will be up for passage tomorrow. 

The Senate passed the Campus Carry bill (SB 10) allowing any licensed individual to carry a concealed weapon on campus at a state institution of higher education. During discussion of the bill, it was noted more than once from both parties that no state institutions of higher education were in favor of the bill.

Two bills advanced to third reading with no amendments. The Student Athlete Transfer bill (SB 262) allows students to transfer schools one time and retain their athletic eligibility. The second bill prohibits individuals who have been convicted of certain crimes against minors from holding positions on boards of education (SB 264). Both bills will be up for passage tomorrow.

Three bills made their way through the Senate Education Committee meeting this morning. The first bill was the Committee Substitute for the WV Guardian Program (SB 282), which allows county boards of education to contract with independent contractors who are either a honorable discharged veteran, a retired state trooper, a retired deputy sheriff, or a specific retired federal law enforcement officer (1811 investigator) to provide school safety services. The bill also permits these contracted individuals to carry a concealed weapon. A bill requiring an impact statement in certain instances of school closing or consolidation (SB 51) was second on the agenda. The bill shall give the impact statement substantial weight when making a decision 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. The final bill pertains to displaying the official motto of the United States in public schools and institutions of higher education (SB 251). The committee voted to pass all three bills and will be reported to the floor with the recommendation they do pass.

Monday, January 23, 2023

During the House floor session today, the special education aides and behavior disorder aides bill (HB 2602) was on second reading and advanced to third reading.  The bill corrects 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.

House Education met today with a number of bills on the agenda. Committee Substitute for HB 2005 establishes dual enrollment pilot program in health care related fields (HB 2005).  The pilot program will be administered by the Higher Education Policy Commissions and the Council for Community and Technical College in conjunction with the State Board of Education.  The Committee Substitute passed the committee and will be reported to the floor with the recommendation it do pass.

The second bill discussed was the bus operator shortage bill (HB 2346), declaring a shortage of qualified bus operators and allowing retired bus operators to accept employment.  The bill allows retired bus operators to drive more than 140 days in critical needs situations.  The bill was amended and is similar to the way retired teachers can exceed the 140 days in areas of critical needs. The bill next heads to the Committee on Finance.

Next was the bill amending performance evaluations of professional personnel (HB 2597).  This bill states that if a teacher receives less than accomplished; data and an explanation must be provided.  The bill passed the committee and will be reported to the floor with the recommendation it do pass. 

The Committee Substitute for clarifying appropriate and inappropriate duties for school counselors bill (HB 2832) was discussed.  This bill defines duties counselors cannot do such as build master schedules, coordinate/administer cognitive tests, as well as other duties.  The Committee Substitute passed and will be reported to the floor with the recommendation it do pass.

The bill that establishes behavioral health workforce education initiative at the Higher Education Policy Commission (HB 2833).  The bill will increase the number of mental health professionals and in other behavior health career areas.  The bill passed the committee with the recommendation it do pass but first be reported to the Committee on Finance.

The bill making public charter schools eligible for Safe Schools funds (HB 2827), was the next bill discussed.  The bill not only adds charter schools as being eligible, but clarified how remaining funds could be expended as it pertains to cameras in special needs classrooms and entrance ways for schools.  The bill passed the committee and will be reported to the floor with the recommendation it do pass but first be reported to the Committee on Finance. 

During the Senate floor session, the Committee Substitute for the Campus Carry bill (SB 10) was on second reading today. This bill allows those licensed individuals to carry a concealed deadly weapon on campus at a state institution of higher education.

Two education related bills were on first reading and advanced to second reading. The Committee Substitute for the Student Journalist bill (SB 121) provides a framework and parameters for free expression for student journalists in public high schools, colleges, and universities. The Student Athlete Transfer bill (SB 262) allows students to transfer schools one time and retain their athletic eligibility.

Don’t forget to check out our Legislative Update section each Friday and watch President Dale Lee go over the week’s legislation. https://wvea.org/actioncenter/wvealegupdate/

Friday, January 20, 2023

Fridays are typically short days with the WV Legislature. The House Committee on Finance met at 9:00 A.M. and the House Committee on the Judiciary met at 10:00 A.M. No education related bills were discussed during these meetings. On first reading was the special education aides and behavior disorder aides bill (HB 2602).  The bill corrects last year’s bill that deleted sections of code concerning Aide V (Special Education) and Aide VI (Behavior Disorder), and adds their definitions back in.

In the Senate, the bill authorizing prevention programs on child abuse and sexual violence in grades 7-12 (SB 124) passed on third reading. Senate Judiciary heard a presentation by WV Department of Education’s Career Technical Education Director Clinton Burch regarding the status and success of CTE programs statewide.

A link to our first Legislative Update will be emailed today, and President Dale Lee will have a video posted, too.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

The Senate Education committee met this morning to take up three bills. All bills passed out of committee and will be reported to the full senate with recommendation that they do pass and those that are double referenced will be sent to the appropriate committees. 

The Third Grade Success Act (SB 274), was first on the agenda. This bill was created to assist students with deficiencies in reading and math and to provide the classroom teacher support with the addition of teacher assistants in grades Pre-K through third grade. With this bill, teachers and teacher’s aides would be provided trainings and professional development so that they can adapt or adopt the new program requirements. The Third Grade Success Act (SB 274) would require benchmarks, interventions in math and reading for students, and as of July 1, 2026, would allow student retention with exceptions in grade 3 for those students who have deficiencies in reading only. This bill does not permit retention for math deficiencies, but does not prevent it either. No amendments were offered and the bill was praised by many Senators on the committee. While the extra help in the classroom is certainly needed, this bill still leaves many questions as to exactly how the program will look in the classroom. This bill will now go to the Finance Committee for further discussion. 

Another bill that passed out of committee was a Student Athlete Transfer 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. 

Finally, a bill preventing any person who has been convicted of a crime involving a minor to hold a position on boards of education (SB 264) passed the committee. Senator Oliverio offered and amendment to add a sworn statement to the application to run for an office and the amendment was adopted before the committee unanimously passed the bill. 

It was another routine floor session today, with two education bills moving. The substantial deference to the State Superintendent’s interpretations of school laws (SB 74) bill was on third reading and passed out of the Senate with 27 yeas, 4 nays (Hamilton, Caputo, Woelfel, and Stover). Three senators absent were absent from voting (Rucker, Boley, and Maroney). This bill will now go to the House. Contact your delegates and let them know you oppose this bill that tips the scales significantly against fairness in the grievance process. 

The bill authorizing child abuse and sexual violence prevention programs in grades 7-12 (SB 124) was on second reading today. There were no amendments offered to the bill and it advanced to third reading.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Two education bills moved during the Senate Floor Session today. The bill authorizing a child sexual abuse and sexual violence prevention program and in-service training in child sexual abuse prevention (committee substitute for SB 124) was on first reading and advanced to second reading. On second reading with the right to amend was the bill that gives substantial deference to the State Superintendent’s interpretations of school laws (SB 74). No amendments were made, the bill was advanced to third reading and will be voted on tomorrow. Contact your Senators this evening and tell them to vote no on this bill as it will most certainly make the grievance process more burdensome for the grievant, not allow Administrative Law Judges to look at a case with fresh eyes, and cause inconsistency in interpretations as State Superintendents change from year to year.

Senate Pensions Committee met today and took up a retirement bill (SB 237) that gives certain TRS (Teachers Retirement System) and PERS (Public Employees Retirement System) retirees a one time bonus of $1500 and increases the monthly amount as well. In order to qualify for the one time bonus, a retiree must be 70 years of age by July 1, 2023, have at least 20 years of service, and have a monthly annuity less than $1000.  If the retiree is 70 by July 1, 2023, has 25 years of service, and receives less than $1000 a month, their benefit will be increased to $1000 a month. Beneficiaries falling within the same guidelines will receive $500 a month. There was one amendment to the bill that changed the effective date from July 1, 2023 to December 31, 2023. This amended bill passed out of committee unanimously and will be reported to the full senate with the recommendation it do pass but first be reported to the committee on Finance.

In House Education today, the classroom aides bill (HB 2003) was first on the agenda.  Speaker Hanshaw is the lead sponsor of the bill that provides early childhood assistant teachers and systems of supports to help students achieve grade level literacy and numeracy by the end of third grade.  The teaching assistants will be in Pre-K through 2nd grade.  The bill provides a multi-tiered system of support addressing both reading and mathematics by the use of screening and benchmarking.  The bill also specifies the retention of the student who does not meet grade level proficiency upon recommendation of the teacher and the student assistance team beginning in the school year 2027 with limited exceptions.  Finally, the bill amended the school aid formula to pay for the assistant teachers.  Superintendent David Roach and Deputy Superintendent Michele Blatt answered questions by members of the committee. Several amendments were offered.  The first by Delegate Statler, would allow a county to use a teaching assistant or other more highly credentialed individuals.  The amendment passed.  The next few amendments added some clean up language and passed.  Delegate Kimble moved to amend the bill to provide an option for the child to attend summer school rather than be required to attend summer school if they are not at grade level at third grade.  The motion failed.  There being no more amendments, the bill as amended passed the committee and will be reported to the floor with the recommendation it do pass but first be reported to the committee on Finance.

The House also discussed the special education aides and behavior disorder aides bill (HB 2602).  The 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.  The bill passed the committee and will be reported to the floor with the recommendation it do pass but first be reported to the Committee on Finance.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Today’s focus is on the WV Senate. The Senate Education Committee met to take up two bills. The first bill (SB 187) would make it a felony offense for any private or public school employee to engage in sexual contact with a student. The second bill (SB 124) would authorize a sexual violence prevention program in grades 7-12 and would include instruction in recognizing dating violence and sexual violence prevention. The bill allows for parents/guardians to submit a written request to the principal if they wish for their child to not participate. Both bills passed out of committee to the full Senate with the recommendation they both pass.

On the Senate floor today, the bill (SB 74) allowing substantial deference to the State Superintendent’s interpretation of school law was advanced to second reading.

During the WV House of Delegates floor session, the governor’s Income Tax Bill (HB 2526) was on second reading and advanced to third reading with the right to amend.


Monday, January 16, 2023 

Most of the action today centered around the House chamber. The governor’s Income Tax Bill (HB 2526) was on first reading today on the House floor. This proposes a 50% reduction in personal income tax phased in over the next three years. It advanced to a second reading on Tuesday with the expectation that amendments will be offered. 

House Education met at 2 PM and heard reports from the WVDE and Higher Ed and Community Colleges. Superintendent Roach reported on the WVDE goals to improve student achievement. He stated when he was appointed State Superintendent, his goal was to return to the basics- reading, writing and math. His comments included… We must be staffed by well-qualified educators. We must prioritize reading, writing and math at the elementary level. We must enhance these skills at the secondary level. Roach called his vision “Ready Read Write.” He further stated we must make literacy a priority and students must be at the heart of everything we do.   

He also talked about the Communities in Schools initiative and the need to further expand this program. He said the State Department of Education has commitments from all 55 counties to have Communities in Schools at the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year 

It is expected that the Speaker’s Bill on classroom aides (HB 2003) will appear on the next House Education committee meeting agenda. His bill will provide additional aides in all PreK through second grade classrooms. 

The Senate met briefly today and took no action on education-related bills.


Friday, January 13, 2023

It’s Friday the 13th and things were much more quiet today under the dome. Neither chamber took up bills related to education.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

The WV Senate continued with suspending constitutional rules to pass more bills today. Two bills also made their way out of the Senate Education Committee this morning with recommendations to pass on the Senate floor. The first bill (SB 41) addresses the school aid formula and raises the funding threshold to 1200 students for counties and ensures counties who fall below this threshold will not be penalized and will receive funding for 1200 students. The second bill (SB 56) allow retired bus drivers to serve as critical needs substitutes for unlimited days without penalty to their retirement benefits. With this bill, the county Superintendent would have to submit a request to the State Board the first year and then renew annually on a local level every year after. The position would also have to be continually posted until filled. After being reported to the floor, this retired bus driver bill will be sent to Senate Finance for further discussion because it was double referenced.

This afternoon, the Senate Judiciary will take up a bill that gives substantial deference to the State Superintendent in interpreting school law and policy (SB 74).

It was another routine day for the House of Delegates. Bills and resolutions were introduced, but no messages were received from the Senate.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Today, on the first day of the 2023 legislative session, the West Virginia Senate suspended its rules to require bills to be read on three separate days and passed a bipartisan bill to increase PEIA reimbursement to hospitals.  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.  Contact your House of Delegates member and the Governor’s office to request they support this important short term fix for the PEIA program.

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 (SB130) is a solution in search of a problem. The fate of this bill now lies with the House of Delegates.

Other bills passing the WV Senate today 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 allowing 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).

With the constitutional rules suspended, a total of twenty-three bills passed the WV Senate today.

Today was organizational for the House of Delegates. The State of the State is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. this evening. You can watch it here: https://youtu.be/oTLyrpM8hRg