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Lobbyline

March 12, 2022

Day 60 of the legislative session is always a long day, and this year was no different. The House started with SB 250 (budget bill). After a lengthy discussion, the bill passed with a 90-9-1 vote. The pay raise is included in the bill as a line item, but the one-time bonus the Governor suggested was not taken up. During messages from the Senate, the House refused HB 4389 because the Senate added the failed and unrelated WVSSAC bill SB 586 regarding school transfers. The House asked the Senate to rescind the amendment. With no discussion and a 97-0-3 vote, the House passed SB 711. This bill provides up to six elective credits for high school students in programs outside of the educational process.

The Senate received a few education-related bills from the House today. The first bill was SB 261 that requires video cameras in certain special education classrooms. The Senate adopted the House technical amendments. The Senate concurred on the House amendments as amended and passed the bill with a 34-0-0 vote. The bill will now go to the Governor. The next bill was SB 704. The Senate adopted the House amendment to change “grandparent” to “custodian.” Then the Senate concurred and passed the bill with a vote of 27-7-0. This bill allows parents, custodians, and guardians to inspect instructional materials in the classroom. It will now head to the Governor. The last bill was SB 493, which requires county Boards of Education to make meetings available to the public (in-person) and through the internet. Senator Rucker amended the House amendments by adding back in the House amendments that were taken out. The amendment was adopted. The Senate concurred on the House amendments as amended and passed the bill with a 31-0-3 vote.

Additionally, the following education-related bills were on third reading with the right to amend:

  • HB 3073 (Emergency Food Act) – requires counties to look for innovative ways to help with students in need to access nutritious foods during the summer or when schools are not in session. The Senate adopted the committee amendment that makes the bill permissive and adopted one other technical amendment. The bill then passed by a vote of 34-0-0.
     
  • HB 4105 – allows service employees with National Association for Pupil Transportation certification to apply for and hold supervisory positions. This bill was sent to the Committee on Rules.
     
  • HB 4111 – relates to the prescriptive authority of advance practice registered nurses. While this bill has nothing to do with educators, it was amended on the floor by Senator Maroney to add SB 574 (reimbursement guidelines concerning PEIA) that was rejected by the House. Another amendment was added that changed the spousal coverage for PEIA members to only cover spouses that do not have insurance coverage through their employer. This amendment was adopted, and the bill was passed 34-0-0.
     
  • HB 4252 – reduces the copay cap on insulin and devices. An amendment was made by Senator Maroney on the floor to add SB 574 to this bill as well, with spousal coverage for PEIA to only extend to spouses that do not have other options from their employer. The amendment was adopted, and the bill passed 31-3-0.
     
  • HB 4571 – will modify the foundation allowance in the school funding formula to account for transportation by electric powered buses. There were no amendments or discussion on this bill. HB 4571 passed by a vote of 32-0-2.
     
  • HB 4642 – relates to pecuniary interests of county and district officers, teachers, and school officials in contracts. A committee amendment was offered that made the exceptions a school or county employee could accept a contract if it was not a service contract, the contract was put out for a competitive bid and the employee has the lowest bid, the employee can’t vote concerning the contract, and there must be a written advisory option from the WV Ethic’s Commission that permits the employee to have a pecuniary interest in the contract. The amendment was adopted, and the bill passed with a 31-0-1 vote.
     
  • HB 4845 – establishes the Katherine Johnson Academy. The Finance Committee amended the bill by incorporating all the amendments from the Education Committee. Senator Rucker further amended the bill with some technical clean up. Both amendments were adopted, and the bill passed with a 33-0-1 vote.

During the last few minutes of the Senate Floor session, the Senate received this bill from the House:

  • SB 246 – requires water bottle filling stations for newly constructed public schools and major renovations. The Senate concurred on the House amendment, which requires County Boards to adopt a policy concerning students carrying water bottles. The bill then passed by a vote of 33-0-1.

March 11, 2022

Today, the House rejected SB 230 with a vote of 39-61-0. This bill relates to the public employees’ grievance procedure. Sixty-one delegates saw the damage this bill could do to public employees and refused to pass this piece of legislation. Be sure to thank your delegates who voted against SB 230. The next education-related bill was SB 246, and this bill passed with an 83-10-7 vote. The bill requires water bottle filling stations for newly constructed public schools and major renovations. The next education bill taken up was SB 268. This bill creates an exemption from compulsory school attendance for students participating in learning pod or micro school. The bill passed with a vote of 56-41-3. There was a long debate on SB 498. This bill creates the Anti-Racism Act of 2022. The House ended up passing SB 498 with a 75-24-1 vote. In addition, SB 711 was advanced from second reading to third reading with the right to amend. The bill establishes up to six elective credits for high school students in programs outside of the educational process.

During the Senate Floor session, SCR 64 (study of Local School Improvement Councils (LSIC)) was adopted. Four education-related bills were on third reading:

  • HB 4110 – relates to staffing levels at multi-county vocational centers. This bill passed with a 30-3-1 vote and no discussion.
  • HB 4355 – relates to disclosure by higher education of certain information regarding textbooks, digital courseware, and charges assessed for those items. An amendment was made by Senator Rucker that changed the words “textbooks” to “course materials” and requires the institution to notify students of any changes in price of materials. It also gives the student an option to drop the course or change courses with a full refund for materials. The amendment was adopted, and the bill passed by a vote of 33-0-1.
  • HB 4389 – repeals school innovation zones provisions that were superseded by Innovation in Education Act. Amended to add SB 586 (WVSSAC transfer rules) into the bill. The amendment was adopted, and the bill passed with a 31-3-0 vote.
  • HB 4829 – modifies the definitions of certain school cafeteria personnel and changes the code for Cook III positions. It also allows a Cook III to assume the head cook’s duties in the absence of the head cook. HB 4829 passed by a vote of 33-0-1.

The following bills were all on second reading and moved to third reading with the right to amend:

  • HB 3073 (Emergency Food Act) – requires counties to look for innovative ways to provide assistance for students in need to access nutritious foods during the summer or when schools are not in session.
  • HB 4105 – allows service employees with National Association for Pupil Transportation certification to apply for and hold supervisory positions.
  • HB 4252 – reduces the copay cap on insulin and devices.
  • HB 4845 – establishes the Katherine Johnson Academy.

March 10, 2022

The House Floor session ended up splitting into two sessions today. The House passed SB 261 with all 100 delegates voting for the bill. This bill requires video cameras to be placed in certain special education classrooms. It also expands the timelines for viewing video footage and allows the principal to assign a designee so they can view the video. SB 493 passed by a vote of 88-7-5. The bill requires county Boards of Education to make meetings available to the public (in-person) and through the internet. SB 529 passed with a 96-0-4 vote. This bill encourages additional computer science education in WV schools. The House also passed SB 704 with a vote of 74-26-0. The bill allows parents, custodians, and guardians to inspect instructional materials in the classroom. The following four education-related bills were advanced from second reading to third reading:

  • SB 230 – relates to the grievance procedure.
  • SB 246 – requires water bottle filling stations for newly constructed public schools and major renovations.
  • SB 268 – creates learning pods and micro-schools. There were three amendments proposed for SB 268, one by Delegate Thompson to limit the number in a micro-school to 25, one by Delegate Evans to make micro-schools adhere to safety standards, and one by Delegate Doyle to state a charter school that has been denied cannot become a micro-school. The amendment to take the cap limit off the learning pods and micro-schools (as adopted in House Education) passed by a 49-47 vote.
  • SB 498 – creates the Anti-Racism Act of 2022. There were three amendments offered for SB 498. Delegate Hornbuckle’s amendment was ruled out of order by the chair as not germane. Delegate Thompson’s amendment was defeated. The third amendment offered by Delegate Capito addressed concerns with the complaint process passed.

The Senate also had two floor sessions today. HB 4466 was on third reading and had no discussion. The bill passed with a vote of 32-0-2. There were four education-related bills on second reading that were advanced to third reading:

  • HB 4110 – relates to staffing levels at multi-county vocational centers.
  • HB 4355 – relates to disclosure by higher education of certain information regarding textbooks, digital courseware, and charges assessed for those items.
  • HB 4389 – repeals school innovation zones provisions that were superseded by Innovation in Education Act.
  • HB 4829 – modifies the definitions of certain school cafeteria personnel and changes the code for Cook III positions. It also allows a Cook III to assume the head cook’s duties in the absence of the head cook.

The Senate concurred on the House amended version of SB 531 (Governor’s pay raise bill) with a 32-0-2 vote and will be effective on July 1, 2022. The Senate also concurred on an amendment to the House amended SB 250 (budget bill). The Senate received an originating SCR 64 (study of Local School Improvement Councils (LSIC)) from the Education Committee. Senator Grady asked what was the purpose of this and Senator Rucker responded that she felt LSICs were not equally used across the state. Her goal was to find out why that was happening. The resolution was considered read for the first time and advanced to second reading. The Senate took HB 3073 (WV Emergency Food Act) up for immediate consideration and considered it read for the first time. The bill requires counties to look for innovative ways to provide assistance for students in need to access nutritious foods during the summer or when schools are not in session. An amendment was adopted that allowed the bill to be permissive instead of mandatory to avoid a fiscal note and changed some language to remain consistent with the Crisis Management Plan. This bill advanced to second reading with no discussion. Additionally, the Senate took HB 4105 up for immediate consideration and considered it read for the first time. This bill allows service employees with National Association for Pupil Transportation certification to apply for and hold supervisory positions. There was a clarifying amendment adopted. The bill then advanced to second reading with no discussion.


March 9, 2022

Last night, the House Judiciary Committee passed a Committee Strike and Insert Amendment for SB 498. The strike and insert amendment struck race and other language out of the House Education version of the bill. The complaint section remains in the bill, as does the reporting to the county Superintendent, the State Superintendent, and LOCEA. This bill creates the Anti-Racism Act of 2022. The discussion turned into a lengthy debate and three witnesses who all opposed the bill were called upon for a testimony. WVEA President Dale Lee was one of them who was sworn in for a testimony. President Lee told the committee how there is a fear in the classrooms and that books in Ohio County are being pulled from the elementary school that pertain to Martin Luther King, Galileo, and other authors. In the end, the strike and insert amendment was adopted. The Committee Substitute for SB 498 passed out of committee and will be reported to the House Floor.

Today, SB 535 passed on the House Floor with a vote of 98-0-2. This bill provides for revocation of school personnel certification or licensure in certain circumstances (such as sexual abuse, child abuse, and murder). Four education-related bills were advanced from second reading to third reading:

  • SB 261 – requires video cameras in certain special education classrooms.
  • SB 493 – requires county Boards of Education to make meetings available to the public (in-person) and through the internet.
  • SB 529 – encourages additional computer science education in WV schools.
  • SB 704 – allows parents, custodians, and guardians to inspect instructional materials in the classroom.

Additionally, the following bills were advanced from first reading to second reading:

  • SB 230 – relates to the grievance procedure.
  • SB 246 – requires water bottle filling stations for newly constructed public schools and major renovations.
  • SB 268 – creates learning pods and micro-schools.
  • SB 574 – relates to PEIA and paying providers or agencies at 110% of the Medicare program.
  • SB 711 – establishes up to six elective credits for high school students in programs outside of the educational process.

The Senate Floor session began this morning and then ended up splitting into two sessions. This evening HB 4535 was on third reading with the right to amend. The bill repeals the section relating to school attendance and satisfactory academic progress as conditions of licensing for driver’s license. Karnes withdrew his amendment and then Rucker offered an amendment that a driver’s license would be restricted to work, religious purposes, and medical purposes if a student does not meet the academic and attendance requirements. It was also clarified that there is an appeals process as well. The amendment was adopted and the bill passed off of the floor with a 33-0-1 vote.

On second reading was HB 4466. This bill relates to School Building Authority’s review of school bond application. The bill was amended leaving the requirement that a county board must submit a request to obtain funding, but removed it must be nine months before a bond levy. The amendment was adopted, and the bill was advanced to third reading. These four education-related bills were all advanced from first reading to second reading:

  • HB 4110 – relates to staffing levels at multi-county vocational centers. 
  • HB 4355 – relates to disclosure by higher education of certain information regarding textbooks, digital courseware, and charges assessed for those items.
  • HB 4389 – repeals school innovation zones provisions that were superseded by Innovation in Education Act.
  • HB 4829 – modifies the definitions of certain school cafeteria personnel and changes the code for Cook III positions. It also allows a Cook III to assume the head cook’s duties in the absence of the head cook.

March 8, 2022

On the House Floor today, the House amended SB 250 (budget bill) by adopting a strike and insert amendment placing the House Budget in the bill. The House Budget differs from the Senate Budget in several areas including the pay raise for state troopers. Both budgets include a $2,240 raise for teachers and professional support professionals and a $122 per month raise for school service personnel. SB 250 as amended will now go back to the Senate for their approval or rejection. The House passed HB 4489 with a vote of 96-1-3. This bill requires counties to post open positions, including coaching and service personnel positions.

SB 493 was supposed to be on second reading, but it will not be considered unless the Rules Committee moves it back to House Special Calendar. This bill requires county Boards of Education to make meetings available to the public (in-person) and through the internet. Advancing from second reading to third reading was SB 535. This bill provides for revocation of school personnel certification or licensure in certain circumstances (such as sexual abuse, child abuse, and murder). Three education-related bills were advanced from first reading to second reading:

  • SB 529 – encourages additional computer science education in WV schools.
  • SB 704 – allows grandparents, parents, and guardians to request a meeting with their students’ teacher to inspect instructional materials used in their classrooms.
  • SB 550 – relates to funding for higher education institutions.

The House decided to recess and have another floor session that will begin at 7:00 PM this evening. We will report on what happens in tomorrow’s Lobbyline.

During the House Education Committee meeting, SB 711 was discussed. This bill establishes alternative educational opportunities for elective courses. The bill allows for students to receive up to six elective credits for internships, trades, and other opportunities outside of the classroom setting. A committee amendment was offered to cross out the appeals process for the alternative learning provider at the rejection of the application. The amendment was adopted. The bill as amended passed out of committee and will be reported to the House Floor with the recommendation of passage. The next bill discussed was the Committee Substitute for SB 268. This bill creates an exemption from compulsory school attendance for a child who participates in a learning pod or micro-school. The learning pod and micro-school are defined in the bill. A learning pod is a group of up to 100 students and a micro-school has up to 100 students. A committee amendment was offered to take out limitations of up to 100 students. The amendment was adopted by a vote of 11-8. Committee Substitute for SB 268 as amended passed out of committee and will be reported to the House Floor with the recommendation of passage.

The House Judiciary Committee also met today and put SB 230 on their agenda. The bill relates to the public employee’s grievance procedure. This bill passed out of committee with vote of 13-12 and will be reported to the House with the recommendation of passage. 

There were several education-related bills on the Senate Floor this evening. HB 4535 repeals the section relating to school attendance and satisfactory academic progress as conditions of licensing for driver’s license. Karnes offered an amendment that would restrict a driver’s license for students that dropped out of school. Romano pointed out some technical issues with some of the stricken language in the amendment and the bill was placed at the foot of bills on second reading. When the Senate reconvened, the bill was then laid over for one day while maintaining its place on the calendar. HB 4019 delays deadlines for public charter schools. The bill passed by a vote of 33-0-1 with no discussion. HB 4420 allows a candidate for bus operator who has diabetes to be allowed to follow the same guidelines as a current bus driver that has developed diabetes. This bill passed with a 33-0-1 vote. Also, there was no discussion on HB 4562 and the Senate passed the bill with a vote of 33-0-1. This bill includes all school personnel and still allows the superintendent and county Board of Education to decide if an employee suspension should be with or without pay. HB 4466 was advanced from first reading to second reading. This bill relates to School Building Authority’s review of school bond application. It also extends deadlines for school plans that have been adopted. HB 4510 was advanced from first reading to second reading and referred to Finance. This bill provides that third grade students be competent in reading and math before moving on to fourth grade.

The Senate Education Committee met this afternoon. The committee discussed HB 4355, which relates to disclosure by higher education of certain information regarding textbooks, digital courseware, and charges assessed for those items. This bill passed out of committee and will be reported to the full Senate with the recommendation of passage. There was no discussion on HB 4110 and the bill passed out of committee. This bill relates to staffing levels at multi-county vocational centers. The next bill was HB 4389. This bill repeals school innovation zones provisions that were superseded by Innovation in Education Act. There was discussion to clarify that existing Innovation Zones would still exist. Drew McClanahan from WVDE stated that they looked at the bill and that it would not negatively impact anyone. The bill passed out of committee with no amendments and will be reported to the full Senate with the recommendation of passage. Finally, HB 4829 passed out of committee with no discussion or amendments. This bill modifies the definitions of certain school cafeteria personnel and changes the code for Cook III positions. It also allows a Cook III to assume the head cook’s duties in the absence of the head cook.


March 7, 2022

A public hearing on SB 498 was held in the House Chamber today. This bill creates the Anti-Racism Act of 2022. WVEA President Dale Lee spoke against SB 498. Below are his remarks:

I am a 22-year teacher of primarily math and some history. I am going to use my math and history experience in my comments today. The math session consists of 27 speakers against to 2 for HB 4011 (a bill covering the same topic) in a previous public hearing and yet the bill passed. Today’s speakers are 23 against to 3 in support to this point.

It is clear most people in West Virginia want students to be critical thinkers and support public education and educators. I have two daughters that went to public schools and now I have an 18-month-old grandson. I want them to know you must make sure you are compassionate to everyone, but I also want them to know history and the truth.

It is a shame it took 50 years before anyone in West Virginia knew about the great accomplishments of Katherine Johnson. We are already banning books because of the fear from these bills. In Ohio County, they are taking books off the shelf in elementary schools that pertain to Martin Luther King, Galileo, and other authors. I urge you to vote against SB 498.

During the House Floor session, SB 531 (Governor’s pay raise bill) passed by a vote of 97-0-3. The bill contains a $2,240 raise for teachers, a $2,240 raise for professional student support staff (counselors, nurses, school social workers), and a $122 per month raise for school service personnel. The effective date would be July 1, 2022. The bill now goes to the Governor for his signature. SB 250 (budget bill) was advanced from second reading to third reading. This funds the pay increases for educators and state employees. The budget bill will be up for passage tomorrow, March 8th. SB 493 was postponed one day. This bill requires county Boards of Education to make meetings available to the public (in-person) and through the internet. Advancing from first reading to second reading was SB 535. This bill provides for revocation of school personnel certification or licensure in certain circumstances. These circumstances are sexual abuse, child abuse, and murder.

The House Judiciary Committee discussed SB 230 today. The bill relates to the public employee’s grievance procedure. Senators Rucker and Karnes are the lead sponsors of this bill. Going into committee, the bill requires a notarized grievance form, prevents grievances filed on actions taken by an agency during a declared state of emergency, extends time limits on conducting level one conferences/hearings to twenty days, and authorizes an administrative law judge the ability to award attorney’s fees and costs on certain findings up to $1,000. During the discussion, several clarification questions were asked to counsel regarding how the bill impacts the public employees. Delegates Brown, Garcia, and Lovejoy pointed out areas in question that can be interpreted differently than possibly what the bill intended, and counsel acknowledged these areas could be interpreted differently. Delegate Brown offered an amendment to strike out the provision allowing administrative law judges to award attorney’s fees and costs, but the amendment failed with 14 nays, 9 yeas, and 2 absent. Delegate Westfall then offered an amendment to prevent the total amount awarded be over $1,000. That amendment was adopted. Delegate Garcia made an amendment to remove the notarization requirement, and that amendment was also adopted. A motion was made to reconsider SB 230 and the motion passed. The bill will be reconsidered in House Judiciary in the morning.

The House Education Committee resumed their meeting this afternoon. The discussion on the Committee Substitute for HB 653 (the Fairmont State University/ Pierpont Community College merger) continued. An amendment by Delegate Tully was adopted and after three meetings of discussion on this bill, a motion was made to adopt HB 653. The bill as amended will be reported to the floor with the recommendation of passage. A strike and insert amendment was moved for Committee Substitute for SB 498. The strike and insert amendment takes out definitions and removes higher education from the bill. The strike and insert keeps the section that allows any student, parent or guardian or employee aggrieved by an alleged violation may file a complaint with the school principal. The complainant can appeal to the local superintendent and can appeal an adverse ruling then to the state superintendent. These number of complaints, the nature of the complaints, and the resolution of the complaint will be reported to LOCEA by October 1 of each year. After a long debate and testimony from WVEA President Dale Lee and others, the strike and insert amendment was adopted by a vote of 16-8. The Committee Substitute for SB 498 as amended passed by a vote of 17-7. The bill will be reported to the House Floor with the recommendation of passage, but will first be referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

The Senate passed three education-related bills. The first bill was HB 4065, which allows the Division of Natural Resources to teach hunter’s safety courses in schools after school hours. The bill passed the Senate with a 33-0-1 vote. The second bill was HB 4380, that relates to the transportation of students and passengers for extracurricular activities; increasing the number of ten-passenger vehicles which may be used for any school-sponsored activity; and clarifying that buses shall be used to transport eighteen or more passengers. The bill passed the Senate with a 31-1-2 vote. The third bill was HB 4489, that requires counties to post open positions, including coaching and service personnel positions. This bill passed the Senate with a 32-0-2 vote. Another bill that was supposed to be on third reading was HB 4535. This bill will lie over one day while maintaining its place on the calendar. The bill repeals the section relating to school attendance and satisfactory academic progress as conditions of licensing for driver’s license.

Moreover, the following three bills were advanced from second reading to third reading, with no amendments.

  • HB 4019 – delays deadlines for public charter schools.
  • HB 4420 – allows a candidate for bus operator who has diabetes to be allowed to follow the same guidelines as a current bus driver that has developed diabetes.
  • HB 4562 – bill includes all school personnel and still allows the superintendent and county Board of Education to decide if an employee suspension should be with or without pay.

Many education-related bills were on the Senate Education Committee’s agenda. HB 4466 passed out of committee. This bill relates to School Building Authority’s review of school bond application. The bill also extends deadlines for school plans that have been adopted. The committee heard testimony from the originator of the bill, Delegate Barnhart, and David Roach from the SBA. No other discussion took place and the bill, which was double referenced, will now go to Senate Finance. HB 4467 passed out of committee with no discussion or testimony. This bill requires early childhood assistant teachers in grades one and two. The bill was double referenced and will now go to Senate Finance. HB 4510 provides that third grade students be competent in reading and math before moving on to fourth grade. An amendment was offered that parents and/or guardians be notified when a student is showing deficiencies. The amendment encourages instead of requires students to participate in an extended learning program if offered by the county and the amendment would allow the student be promoted, regardless of deficiencies at the parent/guardian’s request. This amendment was adopted. Senator Grady offered two amendments. The first one would be that parents would be notified of deficiencies by the end of the next grading period instead of 15 days to give the teacher more time to assess the student. The next amendment added that WV Summative Assessment could be used, but the teacher’s assessment could be used as well. Both amendments passed, and the bill passed out of Senate Education. It was double referenced and will now be sent to Senate Finance. HB 4571 passed out of committee with no discussion. The bill will modify the foundation allowance in the school funding formula to account for transportation by electric powered buses. This bill was double referenced and will now go Senate Finance. Additionally, HB 4580 passed out of committee with no discussion. This bill authorizes retired bus operators to work in areas of critical need. The bill would allow bus drivers the same opportunity that teachers have to retire and work in a critical need area as defined by the county Board of Education. HB 4845 passed out of committee with no discussion. This bill establishes the Katherine Johnson Academy. The bill will now go to Senate Finance. Additionally, HB 4071 passed out of committee with some discussion. This bill creates the mask and quarantine option for parents and faculty. It states that a public school, an elected public official, or an appointed public official may not require any student or educator to wear a mask or require COVID testing or quarantining. There was an amendment with some rewording about wearing a mask if the mask was to protect the person wearing it, but everything else stayed the same. Senator Stollings said this bill does not follow public health guidelines and ties the hands of the county boards in the future. The bill was double referenced and will now go to Senate Judiciary.