Thursday, March 1, 2012

One Big Loss and One Big Win

The Senate Education and Health Committee voted down the Labor Day opening bill introduced by Delegate Tata by a vote of 9-6. This is the same vote that killed the Senate version of the bill a few weeks ago. The usual culprits again opposed the bill - the hospitality industry. Before the committee voted against Delegate Tata's bill, the committee defeated a much more limited bill that would have given the City of Martinsville the right to open before Labor Day. Despite the fact that the city has approximately 70% students on free and reduced lunch, the hospitality industry bitterly opposed the bill because of alleged damage to tourist destinations, such as Virginia Beach. To hear the hospitality representatives and those from Virginia Beach the world as we know it today would come to a grinding halt if even one school system is exempted from the post-Labor Day opening law. It is unlikely that any bill to repeal the Labor Day opening law will be successful with the current makeup of the Senate committee and it is not anticipated that the members of the committee will change before the next Senate election four years from now.

On a positive note, the committee voted down a bill sponsored by Delegate Rob Bell that would have permitted home schooled students to participate on pubic school athletic teams. The bill failed on a 8-7 vote. Many home school families support this bill, although it is not supported by the home school league. Therefore, we can expect to reappear next year.