Thursday, January 15, 2015

Update from the first Senate Education and Health Committee

This morning the Senate Education and Health Committee held their first meeting on the 2015 session. Senator Steve Martin again serves as chairman of the committee. The other members of the committee include Senators Dick Saslaw, Louise Lucas, Janet Howell, Steve Newman, Mamie Locke, George Barker, Ralph Smith, Jeff McWaters, Dick Black, Bill Carrico, Tom Garrett, Chap Petersen, John Cosgrove, and Lynwood Lewis.  This committee is slightly different than last year. Senators John Miller and Barbara Favola have been removed from the committee and Senators Petersen, Cosgrove, and Lewis have been added. Senator Bill Carrico has been named chairman of the public education subcommittee, which will meet on Mondays. The members of the subcommittee include Senators Howell, Locke, Smith, and Cosgrove.

Although there were several bills on the agenda, many of them were passed by for the week. After some discussion and input from VSBA and other members of the committee, Senate Bill 852 (Carrico) was passed by for the week so that we can continue to work on the language. As currently written the legislation permits a public school athletic coach to require a student-athlete to participate in conditioning exercise, such as push-ups or running laps, as part of a disciplinary process if the student athlete and his parents have signed a form that: (1) enumerate actions, such as being late to or missing practice, that would result in discipline involving conditioning or exercise; (2) specifies the required conditioning or exercise for each action that would result in discipline; and (3) acknowledges that the student-athlete and his parent understand and accept the disciplinary process.

Senate Bill 985 (Garrett) was also heard in committee this morning. This legislation, which VSBA strongly supports, allows school divisions to use Virginia Public School Educational Technology grant funds for the lease of educational technology. Under current law, these grants are only available for the acquisition and replacement of educational technology. The bill was reported and referred to the Senate Finance Committee on a 13-2 vote. VSBA will continue to support and address any concerns about this legislation.

All other public education bills were taken by for the week. Check back next week for more updates from the public education subcommittee and full committee on Thursday.