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WVEA Lobby Line

March 6, 2020

There is only one more day left in the regular legislative session and several bills were on third reading/passage stage. In the Senate HB 4804 passed by a vote of 34-0 and will now be sent to the governor. This bill would allow county boards to develop teacher leader programs to help with teacher induction and professional growth. The county board may adopt a salary supplement to provide additional compensation to teachers who are teacher leaders. The bill would require the Department of Education to allocate $100,000 over five years to assist county boards with the design and implementation of a teacher leader program.


After being laid over on third reading yesterday, HB 4398 was laid over again today. The purpose of this bill is to incorporate into Celebrate Freedom Week the original texts of the Mayflower Compact, Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States and its amendments, the Bill of Rights, Federalist Papers and the Constitution of West Virginia. It

will continue to be on third reading tomorrow.


HB 4737 was also laid over for one day and will continue to be on third reading tomorrow. This bill says that if a student is unable to complete the FAFSA due to extenuating family circumstances, as determined by the vice chancellor for administration in consultation with the student’s high school, it will not affect the student’s eligibility for state financial aid. It will now go to the governor.


Several bills were moved off the inactive calendar and put back on second reading today. HB 4069 is known as The West Virginia Student Religious Liberties Act. It would do a number of things including: protect students and parents from being discriminated against on the basis of religion, allow students to express their religious beliefs in assignments, allow students to engage in religious activities before, during and after the school day in the same manner and to the same extent that students may engage in nonreligious activities or expression. During the Senate Education Committee most of section 5 of the bill was removed which requires school districts to create a limited public forum for student speakers for school events. The bill will be on third reading tomorrow.


Also on second reading was HB 4497. This bill would require an automated defibrillator device be present at all secondary school athletic events and practices. The bill also requires action plans to be posted and defibrillators to be present on school or event grounds. All appropriate school sports personnel must be trained on how to use the device. The WVSSAC will be required to include language concerning proximity in their rules for this bill. These devices must be present beginning with the 2021-22 school year. Once enacted, it will be called the Alex Miller Law in memory of the Roane High School football player who died during a game last year.


HB 4535 was also put back on the active calendar on second reading. This bill would add four student aide titles to the class titles for school service personnel. Those new titles are:

AIDE V: Special Education Assistant Teacher- Temporary AuthorizationAIDE V: Special Education Assistant TeacherAIDE VI: Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher- Temporary AuthorizationAIDE VI: Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher


Over in the House, SB 291 was on third reading and passed by a vote of 84-14. This bill would require PEIA to treat behavioral/mental health and substance abuse treatment equally to medical and surgical treatment. It must now go back to the Senate to ask them to concur with changes made in the House.


March 5, 2020

With just two days left in the session, several bills passed in both the House and the Senate today. In the House SB 42 passed by a vote 83-15. This bill would permit county boards of education to include faith-based and nonfaith-based electives in classroom drug prevention programs. The State Board would have to develop a rule on how that would work. The bill will now be sent to the Senate to ask them to concur with changes made in the House.


SB 230 passed by a vote of 98-0. This bill requires a school administrator to provide information and opportunities to discuss suicide prevention awareness to all middle and high school students. It also requires that the State Board provide routine education to all professional educators and service personnel in direct contact with students on the warning signs and resources to assist in suicide prevention. This bill will also go back to the Senate to ask them to concur with changes made in the House.


SB 303 passed by a vote of 96-0. This bill would require the State Board to compile information about the most in-demand jobs in the state, the average cost of all major colleges and vocational schools in the state, the average monthly student loan rate for those who have attended colleges and vocational schools, each branch of military’s starting salary and contact information and more. That information would then be distributed to every public high school. The bill will go back to the Senate to ask them to concur. This bill will also go back to the Senate to ask them to concur with changes made in the House.


SB 691 passed by a vote of 98-0. This bill allows the State Board of Education to create their own alternative preparation programs. They do not have to work with any other partner. This bill will now go to the governor.


SB 291 was on second reading in the House today. This bill would require PEIA to treat behavioral/mental health and substance abuse treatment equally to medical and surgical treatment.


Over in the Senate HB 4165 was on third reading and passed by a vote of 32-0. This bill would allow veterans to volunteer to come into schools to teach children about military service and patriotism. This program would be voluntary and not considered a course requirement. The bill now goes to the governor.


HB 4378 passed by a vote of 33-0 and will now go back to the House to ask them to concur with changes made in the Senate. This bill authorizes the State Superintendent to limit teaching certificates, issue letters of admonishment or enter into consent agreements requiring specific training in order for a teacher to maintain a certificate. It also allows for the revocation of a license in the case of the following: committed any act of sexual abuse of a student or minor or to have engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with a student or minor; committed an act of cruelty to children or an act of child endangerment; or solicited, encouraged, engaged in or consummated an inappropriate relationship with any student, minor, or individual; having a relationship with a student within 12 months of that student’s graduation.


Two bills were brought back onto the active calendar and were on second reading today.


HB 4737 says that if a student is unable to complete the FAFSA due to extenuating family circumstances, as determined by the vice chancellor for administration in consultation with the student’s high school, it will not affect the student’s eligibility for state financial aid.


HB 4804 would allow county boards to develop teacher leader programs to help with teacher induction and professional growth. The county board may adopt a salary supplement to provide additional compensation to teachers who are teacher leaders. The bill would require the Department of Education to allocate $100,000 over five years to assist county boards with the design and implementation of a teacher leader program.


March 4, 2020

It was another long day at the capitol. Over in the house, the budget bill (SB 150) dominated most of the day with amendments and discussion. Only one education-related bill was on third reading today. SB 614 passed by a vote of 96-0. This is a follow-up to a bill passed last year. During the 2019 session, legislators passed a bill that created the Safe School Fund and required that all special education classrooms have cameras. Although that bill was signed into law last year, there was not enough funding for every school in the state to install the cameras. SB 614 would require the WV Department of Education to allocate funding for the Safe Schools Fund based on the remaining need for video cameras in each district until all districts are in compliance. The bill will be sent back to Senate to ask them to concur with amendments made in the House.


There were several bills on second reading today.  SB 42 would permit county boards of education to include faith-based and nonfaith-based electives in classroom drug prevention programs. The State Board would have to develop a rule on how that would work. No amendments were made and it will be on third reading tomorrow.


SB 723 would require the Department of Education to analyze data collected statewide on school disciplinary actions. Based on this data, they are then required to develop a program to address the number of disciplinary actions taken against students. The Department must also report their findings to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability every two years beginning in 2022. It will be on third reading tomorrow.


Also on third reading tomorrow is SB 750. It would require the county boards of education to develop and adopt an Extended Learning Opportunities policy that includes alternative educational opportunities for elective course credit that recognizes learning opportunities outside of the traditional classroom. Non-profits, businesses, parents and teachers may apply and submit proposals for these opportunities.


SB 842 would require the State Superintendent to create the Behavior Interventionalist Program. The program would run for three years in at least two counties but no more than ten. The state superintendent would use the following criteria when choosing the two counties: counties with a high number of students with an IEP, high number of students with behavior issues and the resources available to hire and train someone for this position. The chosen counties may create a new position titled Behavior Interventionalist. A committee consisting of principals, teachers, classroom aids and teacher organizations will convene to assist the county boards on the requirements for the position. No amendments were made and it will be on third reading tomorrow.


SB 691 will also be on third reading tomorrow. This bill allows the State Board of Education to create their own alternative preparation programs. They do not have to work with any other partner.


SB 230 was moved from the inactive calendar back to the active calendar today and was on second reading. SB 230 requires a school administrator to provide information and opportunities to discuss suicide prevention awareness to all middle and high school students. It also requires that the State Board provide routine education to all professional educators and service personnel in direct contact with students on the warning signs and resources to assist in suicide prevention.


SB 303 was also moved back onto the active calendar today and was on second reading. This bill would require the State Board to compile information about the most in-demand jobs in the state, the average cost of all major colleges and vocational schools in the state, the average monthly student loan rate for those who have attended colleges and vocational schools and more. That information would then be distributed to every public high school. An amendment was proposed today by Delegate Jefferies that would include in the bill each branch of the military’s starting salary and their contact information. The amendment passed and the amended bill will be on third reading tomorrow.


SB 291 was on first reading today. This bill would require PEIA to treat behavioral/mental health and substance abuse treatment equally to medical and surgical treatment. It will be on second reading tomorrow.

The Senate had a very long floor session today with a multitude of bills to get through.


HB 4780 was on third reading and passed by a vote of 30-3. This bill would allow the county boards of education to offer students in grades 9 and up the following classes:

An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament of the Bible;

An elective social studies course on the New Testament of the Bible; or

An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament of the Bible.


The bill requires the State Board of Education to include course standards in the program of studies for West Virginia schools, including the teacher qualifications and required professional development. The bill will be sent to the governor.


HB 4519 creates a summer youth intern pilot program with the Department of Commerce. The Department will work with employers, non-profits and institutions especially in areas of high-demand career fields to place high school students in internships. It passed by a vote of 34-0 and will now go to the governor.


HB 4546 passed by a vote of 34-0. The purpose of this bill is to remove the requirement for biennial tuberculosis screenings for county superintendents. Testing may still be required when there is suspicion that the superintendent has been exposed to TB or they demonstrate symptoms. (A similar bill that eliminated the test for teachers was passed several years ago.) The bill will now be sent to the governor.


HB 4691 passed by a vote of 34-0. The purpose of this bill is to clarify and provide greater visibility to provisions that enable school systems to recruit and employ newly graduating teachers and other professional personnel who will begin employment in the next school year in areas of critical need. Also, the provision already in code that allows retired teachers to be hired in areas of critical need was set to expire on June 30, 2020. This bill would extend that date to June 30, 2025. It will now go to the governor.


HB 4165 was on second reading today. This bill would allow veterans to volunteer to come into schools to teach children about military service and patriotism. This program would be voluntary and not considered a course requirement. The bill will be on third reading tomorrow.