Below is a recap of this past week’s activity in the General Assembly.
Bills Re-referred to Senate Finance Committee
Several bills which had been assigned to the Senate Education and Health Committee were re-referred to the Senate Finance Committee on January 19. This includes a number of bills changing college and university board governance, earmarking or capping tuition, and increasing the percentage of in-state versus out-of-state students admitted to and enrolled in Virginia’s public colleges and universities. Similar bills have also been filed in the House of Delegates.
In addition, SB 1026 (Sen. Dunnavant) which would change the Code of Virginia to align with the budget bill for the Expected Family Contribution of students qualifying for the Two-Year Transfer Grant ($8,000 to $12,000), was re-referred to the Senate Finance Committee.
Budget amendments filed by close of business on January 15 were made public and became available online on Wednesday afternoon. The VCCS staff has combed through the amendments, and we are in the process of communicating with key legislators on the ramifications of some of the amendments on VCCS’s colleges and students. Amendments submitted by members of the General Assembly, as well as the amendments to the biennial budget introduced by the Governor in December, are being discussed in each subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee (SFC) and the House Appropriations Committee (HAC). The SFC and HAC will make their recommendations public on February 5.
Committee Assignments and Special Election
Governor Terry McAuliffe announced this week that the special election to fill the vacant seat in House District 71 of the House of Delegates will be held on Tuesday, February 7. February 7 also happens to be “crossover” day.
House District 71 was previously represented by Jennifer McClellan, who was elected to the 9th Senatorial District on January 10. Senator McClellan has been appointed to the Transportation, Local Government, and Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources Committees.
Foundation “Sunshine” Bill
SB 1436 (Sen. Petersen) would expand the definition of public body under the Freedom of Information Act to include any foundation that exists for the primary purpose of supporting a public institution of higher education and that is exempt from taxation under § 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. If enacted, this would mean that all financial and other records, minutes, correspondence, phone logs, etc. of each community college’s foundation or of the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education must be made available to the public upon receiving a Freedom of Information request.
The bill was heard in the General Laws subcommittee #1 on January 18 , but no action was taken.
Herndon updates members of HAC Subcommittee on success of New Economy Workforce Credentials Grant
Vice Chancellor of Workforce Development Services, Craig Herndon, updated members of the Commerce, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Technology Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee on January 18 to bring them up to date on the success of the New Economy Workforce Credentials Grant Program. Herndon was introduced by Delegate Kathy Byron, the House chief patron of the legislation which established the parameters of the program and the funding mechanism for it in 2016. Delegate Byron conveyed her enthusiastic support of the program and its positive effect on Virginia’s workers and their families. Brett Vassey, CEO of the Virginia Manufacturers Association, followed Herndon and testified that the credentialing of additional workers in the manufacturing sector has been welcome and extremely significant for the industry.
On January 24, Chancellor Glenn DuBois and Herndon will be making a similar presentation to the Education Subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee.
To date, 2,355 bills have been introduced, and 2,131 are still pending. There will be a lot of activity in the next two weeks as both houses rush to clear their dockets before crossover.
The list of bills we are following and working on is attached.
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