February 24, 2015 Legislative Report

Delegate Landes’ Legislative Report
By Delegate R. Steven Landes
February 24, 2015

 

Sixth Week of Session

It is week six of the General Assembly’s seven week legislative session, and I am proud to announce the passage of key legislation on which I worked to see passed during the 2015 General Assembly Session.  These bills have now passed the House and the Senate and are headed to the Governor for consideration.

I submitted a number of bills this session to improve student privacy protection in our K-12 Education system in House Bill 1307 and House Bill 1336.  House Bill 1334 is an attempt to address college affordability through establishing an across the board credit system for advanced credits achieved in high school.  House Bill 1958 ensures that obscene material stays out of our prisons and to enforce regulatory procedures.

The following bills have passed both the House and Senate:

    House Bill 1307: Prohibits the Department of Education and each local school board from requiring any student enrolled in a public elementary or secondary school or receiving home instruction, or his parent, to provide the student's federal social security number. The bill requires the Department to instead develop a system of unique student identification numbers and requires each local school board to assign such a number to each student enrolled in a public elementary or secondary school. Under current law, every student is required to present a federal social security number within 90 days of his enrollment; if a student is ineligible to obtain a social security number or his parent is unwilling to present a social security number, the superintendent may assign another identifying number or waive the requirement. The bill has a delayed effective date of August 1, 2015.

    House Bill 1334:Requires the Department of Education to develop and make publicly available on its website policies to ensure state and local compliance with the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and state law applicable to students' personally identifiable information, including policies for access to students' personally identifiable information and the approval of requests for student data from public and private entities and individuals for the purpose of research. The bill requires the Department and each local school division to notify the parent of any student whose personally identifiable information contained in electronic records could reasonably be assumed to have been disclosed in violation of FERPA or state law applicable to such information, except as otherwise provided in certain other provisions of law. Such notification shall include the date, estimated date, or date range of the disclosure; type of information that was or is reasonably believed to have been disclosed; and remedial measures taken or planned in response to the disclosure.

    House Bill 1335: Requires the Secretary of Education to consult with the agencies for which he is responsible pursuant to statute and biennially report to the General Assembly on the coordination efforts among such agencies. The bill also requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction to designate an employee of the Department of Education to serve as its liaison to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and the State Board for Community Colleges and the Chancellor of Community Colleges to designate an employee of the State Board for Community Colleges to serve as its liaison to the Board of Education.

    House Bill 1336:  Requires the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, in consultation with the governing board of each public institution of higher education, to establish a uniform policy for granting undergraduate course credit to entering freshman students who have taken one or more Advanced Placement, Cambridge Advanced (A/AS), College-Level Examination Program (CLEP), or International Baccalaureate examinations and repeals the current law under which such governing boards individually implement such policies. The bill requires SCHEV and each public institution of higher education to make the policy available to the public on its website. The bill has a delayed effective date of July 1, 2016.

    House Bill 1587:  Provides that in cases in which a school board employee is directly exposed to body fluids of a minor student in a manner in that may transmit the HIV or hepatitis B or C viruses, the minor student's parent shall be notified prior to initiating testing of such minor student for infection with such viruses.

    House Bill 1588:Adds the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry to the committee established to assist the Secretary of Commerce and Trade to develop during the first year of each new gubernatorial administration a comprehensive economic development policy for the Commonwealth.

    House Bill 1958: Requires the Board of Corrections to promulgate and the Director and Department of Corrections to enforce regulatory policies prohibiting the possession of obscene materials by prisoners incarcerated in state correctional facilities.

    House Bill 2290: Requires the board of visitors of the University of Virginia to establish in its bylaws the commencement and expiration dates of the two-year terms of the board's rector and vice-rector. Under current law, such two-year terms are required to commence on July 1 of the year of appointment and expire on June 30 of the year of expiration.

    House Joint Resolution 637:Directs the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) to study the Commonwealth's Medicaid program. In conducting its study, JLARC shall analyze the impact of major cost drivers on the growth of Medicaid program expenditures; identify highest-cost Medicaid recipients and services and assess whether opportunities exist to improve the cost-effectiveness of health care delivery; examine the efficiency of the administration of the Commonwealth's Medicaid program, including financial processes and controls and the recovery of third-party payments, and review the implementation status of recommendations made in 2011 JLARC report on improper payments and other reports related to improving efficiency and cost-effectiveness; identify evidence-based practices and strategies that have been successfully adopted in other states and that could be used in the Commonwealth to provide cost-effective care, strengthen patient outcomes, and maximize the efficiency and integrity of internal processes; and review other relevant issues and make recommendations as appropriate. JLARC shall complete its work by November 30, 2016.

The House and Senate have been meeting in conference to resolve differences in our budget and I’m happy to report that the differences have been resolved and accepted. Speaker Howell incorporated a rules change for the budget this year so that it will be posted for the public and the press to view at least 48 hours before we vote on it. The Richmond Times-Dispatch praised the new policy earlier this year, saying that “the move will increase public access.”

Now that the budget conferees have finished their work, you can find their budget online at http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?151+sum+HB1400

The House’s budget eliminated more than $10 million in new fees and $42 million in new government debt, while also putting more money into classrooms and funding core functions of government. We took a conservative approach, opposing Medicaid expansion, but also working to strengthen existing safety net programs for those in the most need.

Major Legislation

Governor McAuliffe has begun to sign legislation that’s passed both the House and Senate. This week, he signed Delegate Rust (R- Herndon) House Bill 1662 to let Uber, Lyft and other transportation network companies to operate in Virginia.

The Charlottesville Daily Progress wrote an editorial in support of the legislation: These companies are an outgrowth of technology and an example of how technology can quickly generate grassroots entrepreneurship: People with cars and people without cars easily connect via electronic communications to arrange shared transportation to a common destination. People with cars earn a little extra money, people without cars get transportation services, and environmental values are served by promoting ridesharing. It’s a simple, elegant business model.

Squashing such innovation with over-regulation is a real danger.The House legislation takes that into consideration.

“Improving transportation for Virginians takes more than just building infrastructure,” said Del. Tim Hugo, bill co-sponsor, in a news release. “It requires us to embrace new technology to better meet citizens’ transportation needs.”

At the same time, the bill applies reasonable safety standards. It requires network transportation companies to conduct criminal background checks —sex offender registry included — on all drivers. It also requires companies to certify that drivers are older than 21, are properly licensed, have good driving records, and have liability insurance.

That seems a fair balance.

Charter Schools

Some of our work doesn’t require the Governor’s approval. I have always supported legislation to give parents and students more choices for the education that best fits their needs.

Last week, the House and Senate passed identical resolutions (House Joint Resolution 577 by Delegate Robert B. Bell (R-Albemarle) and Senate Joint Resolution 256 by Senator Mark D. Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) to make it easier to establish charter schools in Virginia. If the same resolutions pass again next year and are approved by voters, it will be enshrined in Virginia’s constitution.

The Washington Post wrote earlier this month that the legislation is “Charting the right path on education”:

Overlooked are the facts that charters can help children not served by one-size-fits-all schools; that while traditional public schools in Maryland and Virginia may look good in the aggregate, there are still places where children don’t have access to quality education; and that parents in jurisdictions where charters have become prevalent say they like having choices in what is among the most important areas affecting their children.

High-quality charters are not to be feared but encouraged. That’s why we hope for success in efforts now underway in the two states to reform charter laws.

The Daily Press also wrote over the weekend in support of the constitutional amendment on charter schools:

Considering the problems in Virginia's most troubled, failing public schools, we should be willing to reasonably consider any idea with the possibility of success. We applaud those local lawmakers who stood up for charter schools and expect area detractors to account for their opposition.

“Tebow Bill”

The first legislation to allow homeschooled students to participate in high school sports in Virginia was introduced twenty years ago. For the first time this year, House Bill 1626, commonly referred to as the “Tebow Bill,” by Delegate Robert B. Bell (R-Albemarle) was approved by both the House and the Senate and will be going to the Governor’s desk. There are more than 32,000 home schooled students in Virginia, and with the passage of the “Tebow Bill,” local school boards will have the option of letting them participate in school sports, clubs and group activities.

Supporting Israel

Serving in Virginia’s House of Delegates means making tough decisions and trying to do the right thing, even when it’s not popular with everyone. I voted in support of Delegate Brenda L. Pogge’s, (R-Norge), House Joint Resolution 659 because Israel is our ally in the Middle East and its people have the right to live in peace and defend themselves. House Democrats made national news this month when they twice left the House chamber to avoid voting on a resolution expressing support for the State of Israel.

Visitors

This past week we had Dr. Carol Hurst, a constituent, stop by early in the week.  Peter Thomas, with COALTEC Energy came by to discuss New Energy source along with Hobey Bauhan with the Virginia Poultry Federation. Mid-week Alexandra Gunter, with the James Madison University Student Government Association visited to discuss items within the budget important to students pertaining to higher education.

Contact Me

As always, my staff and I are here in Richmond to serve you. My full time Legislative Director, Judy Wyatt, who works session as well as in the District, will be handling constituent concerns, legislative issues, and ensuring things run smoothly. During session, James Lawrence is onboard as a legislative assistant to aid me in my Education and Appropriations duties as well as to assist Judy with constituent inquiries and office duties.

Carolyn Musika, our Session Secretary, is the main contact for appointments. This year our intern is Emily Herring, a Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) senior, who has been assigned to our office through the Virginia Capital Semester Program.

I want to hear what you think about the legislation pending before the House, or if there's anything we can do to help you in dealing with a state government agency. While in Richmond, my office can be reached by phone at 804.698.1025 or by email at steve@stevelandes.com.

If you are planning to visit Richmond during Session, I encourage you to call our Secretary to make an appointment. Our office location is on the 9th Floor, Room 947. Our Richmond address is Post Office Box 406, Richmond, Virginia 23218. Please visit my website at www.stevelandes.com for my newest press releases and newsletters.

Thank you again for allowing me to serve as your Delegate.

Sincerely,

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Steve Landes

 

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  • Martha Floyd
    published this page 2015-07-29 15:34:53 -0400
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