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Lobby Line (Jan. 22 - 26)

Friday, January 26, 2024 Day 17

Senate

The Senate floor session included the following bills:

SB 189 providing for substantial deference to state school superintendent’s interpretations of school law. This substantial deference would apply to both the Public Employees Grievance Board and County Boards of Education. This bill passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday and was on first reading today. SB 189 advanced and will be on second reading Monday.

Committee Substitute for SB 468 requiring a course in public schools on human development was on second reading today, but was referred to the Rules Committee. This bill requires the Meet Baby Olivia video be shown in 8th grade with a refresher in 10th.

House

Today in the House Floor Session HB 4860, providing that a general education teacher may not be responsible for accommodation logs, advanced from 1st reading to 2nd reading.  Action on HB 4776, adding elementary schools into school disciplinary measures, and HB 4777, allowing staff members in public schools to eat lunch for free if there is food left over after every student has been fed, was postponed one day (again) and will be on 1st reading Monday, January 29.

It’s Friday, so look for your weekly WVEA Legislative Update email this afternoon! Not receiving WVEA emails? Let us know!

If you are concerned about any of the bills covered on Lobbyline, contact your legislators and speak out. As the session continues, things will start to pick up and move fast. Want to receive text alerts from WVEA on pressing legislative issues? Sign up here!



Thursday, January 25, 2024 Day 16

House

Today on the House Floor the following bills on First Reading were laid over for one day and retain their place on the agenda:

HB 4776 relating to adding elementary schools disciplinary measures. This bill was postponed yesterday as well.

HB 4777 Allowing staff members in public schools to eat lunch free if there is food left over after every students has been fed.

HB 4860 Providing that a general education teacher may not be responsible for accommodation logs. This bill was postponed yesterday as well.

Senate

The Senate floor session included the following bills:

SB 448 requiring age-appropriate instruction on the Holocaust in public schools was advanced to second reading on Tuesday and then was held over yesterday, keeping its place on the calendar, and then referred to Rules Committee today.

SB 468 requiring course in public schools on human development, was on first reading today and was advanced to second reading. This bill requires a specific video to be shown in 8th grade and a refresher in the 10th grade. Initially, the bill included 3rd grade, but the Senate Education Committee removed that portion. The animated video begins with the sperm fertilizing the egg, instructing that life begins then, and goes through the 9-month gestation period. It will be in the amendment stage tomorrow, and those concerned should reach out to their Senator today.

The Senate Education Committee met this morning and WVEA President Dale Lee gave a presentation on the results of the scientific WVEA member survey outlining issues in public education and potential solutions.  The report highlighted lack of respect, pay and discipline issues that are driving teachers out of the profession and leading to poor working and learning conditions in our schools.

The committee then advanced the following bills:

SB 487 requiring a periodic review of professional development.  WVEA has complained about the volume of required professional development for some time. 

SB 502 allowing teachers to sell unused sick days at the end of the year for 80% of “substitute pay with ten years of experience”. The bill was advanced to the Finance Committee.

SB 503 protecting belief-based student organizations from certain types of discrimination.  The bill was advanced to Judiciary committee.

Tomorrow’s floor session for the Senate will be at 9:00 a.m. instead of the normal 11:00 a.m. time.

The state task force on school discipline met Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss changes to West Virginia Board of Education Policy 4373, Expected Behavior in Safe and Productive Schools. Some changes explored so far include an extensive rewrite to inappropriate behavior levels and include specific examples at each level. The rewrite also adds eating disorders to the student protection list. Despite the positives, there are some concerning changes like a list of “alternatives to exclusion”. The policy will undergo more work by the committee before it is placed on the calendar and released for public comment.  WVEA will share any additional information provided.



Wednesday, January 24, 2024 Day 15

House

Today began in the House Chamber with the 8:30 a.m. public hearing on HB 4654. The bill would remove schools, museums and public libraries from the exemption in code that protects these types of entities from prosecution for distribution and display obscene matter to a minor. Concerning is the definition of obscene (which is not in the bill) and striking of the language of “school, in the presentation of local or state approved curriculum.” WVEA President Dale Lee shared these concerns when he spoke at the hearing.

On third reading during the floor session, the House passed HB 4769 with a 94-3-2 vote. This is the school counselor bill that clarifies appropriate and in appropriate duties along with providing the definition of a school counselor. 

The two bills on first reading were postponed one day. Both were discussed and passed in the House Education Committee on Monday. Those bills are: 

HB 4777 allowing staff members in public schools to eat lunch for free if there is food left over after every student has been fed. 

HB 4860 Providing that a general education teacher may not be responsible for accommodation logs.  This bill amends the code so that a general education teacher is not responsible for completing accommodation logs. 

The House Committee on Finance met today and Superintendent Blatt gave a WVDE budget presentation. Delegates questioned Superintendent Blatt about Safe Schools funding, Hope Scholarship, transportation funding, professional development funding, and expiring federal COVID money. Andy Neptune, the Executive Director of the School Building Authority also gave a presentation. He stated 19 of the 27 counties requesting SBA money last year received a total of $111,000,000 funding for their projects.

The House Education Committee met this afternoon, and was still meeting at the time of press. WVEA will post about this meeting at a later time.

Senate

The Senate held SB 448 over for one day, keeping its place on the calendar. The bill requires age-appropriate instruction on Holocaust in public schools, and remains on second reading.

The Senate Committee on School Choice met this afternoon for a presentation on the Hope Scholarship. Amy Willard from the West Virginia State Treasurer’s Office testified that the agency has changed the rules to allow an unlimited application period.  Willard stated that five percent of Hope Scholarship state funding is currently going to out of state charter schools (over $300,000.00). Willard also stated her agency is constantly getting informed by the public schools that students receiving the Hope Scholarship have started attending public schools, but have not informed her agency.  In the 2022-2023 school year there were 2,333 students who completed the program. Nearly half of the applications last year were for PreK and Kindergarten.  The program total funds approved for student accounts was in excess of 9 million dollars.  This is money that could have been spent to improve public schools. 

The Senate Judiciary Committee also met and discussed SB 189. This bill would provide for substantial deference to state school superintendent’s interpretations of school laws, and did not survive the 2023 legislative session. The committee was still meeting at press time, so an update will be posted. 

If you are concerned about any of these bills covered on Lobbyline, contact your legislators and speak out. Want to receive text alerts from WVEA on pressing legislative issues? Sign up here!




Tuesday, January 23, 2024 Day 14

Senate

Today in Senate Education, Star Academy made a presentation of their middle school program for at risk students.  This a STEM based program for school districts where Star Academy trains the teachers in the school district.

After the presentation, the following bills were discussed:

A Committee Substitute for SB 302, authorizing child sexual abuse and sexual violence prevention program and in-service training in child sexual abuse prevention.  This would provide age appropriate instruction in personal safety and child abuse in grades 3-6 and instruction in dating violence, etc. in grades 7-12.  The bill was amended to give the parents at least a one weeks notice to opt out.  The amendment passed.  Committee Substitute for SB 302 as amended was adopted and will be reported to the full Senate.

SB 468 requiring course in public schools on human development. This bill relates to pregnancy and human development and ultrasound videos.  A Committee Substitute was offered requiring the State Department to implement the standards and require the video be shown in grade 8 with a refresher in grade 10.  The Committee substitute also removed the language concerning the Attorney General and the ability to bring legal action against someone for failure to present the curriculum.  The Committee Substitute was adopted, and the Committee Substitute for SB 468 was adopted and will be reported to the full Senate with the recommendation it do pass. 

SB 487 requiring periodic review of professional development for teachers and education staff.  This would require the state department to review staff development at least every 10 years.  The bill was laid over to the next meeting.

During the floor session, the following three bills were passed on third reading:

Com. Sub for SB 152 displaying official US motto in public schools. The Com. Sub. changed the bill from displaying the motto in all buildings to all classrooms. The bill passed with a 31-1-2 vote.

Com. Sub for SB 280 allowing teachers to discuss scientific theories. The Com. Sub. changed the wording from “teach intelligent design” to “discuss scientific theories”. The bill passed with a 31-2-1 vote.

Com. Sub. for SB 293 creating the Glucagon for Schools Act. The Com. Sub. added notifying the student’s health care provider of the administration of the glucagon to the post administering steps. The bill passed with a 33-0-1 vote.


House

On second reading in the House today was HB 4769 clarifying appropriate and inappropriate duties for school counselors while also providing the definition of a school counselor. A floor amendment was adopted to remove outdated language referencing the Center for Professional Development because the agency no longer exists. HB 4769 will be up for passage tomorrow.

A reminder regarding the public hearing in the House chamber tomorrow morning at 8:30 regarding HB 4654, where WVEA will speak about concerns regarding the definition of obscene (which is not in the bill) and strikes the language of “school, in the presentation of local or state approved curriculum.”  WVEA will speak at the public hearing Wednesday.  The bill was removed from the Judiciary Committee agenda Monday pending the public hearing.

On first reading today was SB 448 requiring age-appropriate instruction on Holocaust in public schools. The bill advanced to second reading.


Monday, January 22, 2024 Day 13

Senate

The following three bills advanced from second reading to third today during the Senate’s floor session:

Com. Sub for SB 152 displaying official US motto in public schools. The Com. Sub. changed the bill from displaying the motto in all buildings to all classrooms.

Com. Sub for SB 280 allowing teachers to discuss scientific theories. The Com. Sub. changed the wording from “teach intelligent design” to “discuss scientific theories”.

Com. Sub. for SB 293 creating the Glucagon for Schools Act. The Com. Sub. added notifying the student’s health care provider of the administration of the glucagon to the post administering steps.

There were no Education related bills on Senate Committee agendas today.

House

Today in the House Floor Session, HB 4769 advanced from first reading to second reading.  The bill clarifies appropriate and inappropriate duties for school counselors while also providing the definition of a school counselor.

The House also announced a public hearing for HB 4654 removing schools, museums and public libraries from the exemption in code that protects these types of entities from prosecution for distribution and display obscene matter to a minor.  The hearing will be Wednesday morning, January 24th at 8:30 AM.  Concerning is the definition of obscene (which is not in the bill) and strikes the language of “school, in the presentation of local or state approved curriculum.”  WVEA will speak at the public hearing Wednesday.  The bill was removed from the Judiciary Committee agenda pending the public hearing.

In House Education, the following bills were discussed:

HB 4372 increasing the 35 year limit on interval pay raised for teachers to 40 years.  This bill extends the experience pay schedule from 35 years to 40 years.  A committee amendment was proposed that would remove the cap altogether.  The amendment passed. The motion to report HB 4372 as amended to the floor with the recommendation it do pass but first be referred to the committee on Finance was adopted. 

HB 4776 adding elementary schools to the school disciplinary bill that was passed last year.  This allows a teacher to remove a disruptive student and the student cannot be put back in the classroom the remainder of the period.  Three (3) removals in a month requires the student be suspended.  A committee amendment was was offered to require a parent conference within 3 days of the removal.  An amendment to the committee amendment was offered to address exceptionalities for students with IEPs.  The amendment to the committee amendment was adopted.  The amendment as amended was passed.  The motion to report HB 4776 as amended to the floor with the recommendation it do pass was adopted.

HB 4777 allowing staff members in public schools to eat lunch for free if there is food left over after every student has been fed.  The motion to report HB 4777 to the floor with the recommendation it do pass was adopted.

HB 4851 to allow for public and private schools in West Virginia to employ security personnel.  This bill would allow school security officers to be employed and these officers could carry firearms under certain conditions.  A committee amendment was offered to make technical corrections and allowing the SSO the ability to detain individuals until law enforcement arrives.  The committee substitute passed.  The motion to report HB 4851 as amended to the floor with the recommendation it do pass but first be referred to the committee on Judiciary was adopted.

HB 4860 Providing that a general education teacher may not be responsible for accommodation logs.  This bill amends the code so that a general education teacher is not responsible for completing accommodation logs.  The motion to report HB 4860 to the floor with the recommendation it do pass was adopted.

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