Posted on Monday, January 27, 2014

Chancellor  Addresses Education Subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee

Chancellor Glenn DuBois made a dynamic presentation before the Education Subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday, January 21.  DuBois highlighted the challenges faced by Virginia to replace and train workers in high-demand professions, the Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative, the need for new and renovated facilities, and our priority for the creation of a Workforce Incentive Fund. 

Senate Bills Allowing Undocumented Students to Pay In-State Tuition Fail in Senate Education and Health

SB 249 (McEachin, Ebbin) and SB 327 (Marsden) would allow students who meet certain criteria to access public higher education in Virginia and pay in-state tuition. Both bills were heard on January 16 in the Higher Education Subcommittee of Senate Education and Health, but moved forward without a recommendation.  The bills failed yesterday in the full Education and Health Committee.

Similar House bills HB 747 (Rust), HB 59 (Kory) and HB 88 (Lopez) are expected to be heard in the Higher Education Subcommittee of the House Education Committee on Tuesday, January 28.

Transfer Grant Bills Advance

HB 133 (Cole) was reported out of the House Education Committee on January 20 and passed the House of Delegates on a 97-0 vote on January 23.  HB 133 will allow eligible transfer grant recipients to transfer to a four-year institution either in the fall or spring after they receive their associate degree.  The current method only allows for fall transfer.

SB 429 (Hanger) was reported out of the Senate Education and Health Committee on January 23, and has been re-referred to Senate Finance.  This bill would convert the current two-year transfer grant (eligible students receive $1,000; students studying science, teaching, engineering, math or nursing receive an additional $1,000) to a grant which would provide the difference between community college tuition and average public four-year tuition.  It is accompanied by a corresponding Senate budget amendment.

Workforce Incentive Fund

SB 628 (Ruff) was heard in Senate Education and Health on January 23, was unanimously reported, and has been re-referred to the Senate Finance Committee.  Members of the Education Subcommittee of Senate Finance got a briefing on the bill and the proposed program when VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois addressed them on January 21.  An identical bill in the House of Delegates is HB 1225 (Marshall), which has been assigned to the Higher Education Subcommittee of House Education and is scheduled to be heard on January 28.

Mental Health Legislation

SB 663 would require the VCCS to create a pilot program to establish a plan or contract with community groups to provide mental health services to uninsured students and such other students as the System may identify at eight community college campuses in the Commonwealth. The bill requires a central program manager for the pilot program, and the program would sunset by June 30, 2016 or whenever funding was exhausted. 

SB 663 was passed by for the day during the Senate Education and Health Committee meeting of January 23 and should be heard on January 30.  Every Virginia community college currently has a memorandum of understanding with its local Community Services Board(s) for referrals of students needing mental health services, a measure adopted by the State Board in November of 2012 and contained in 2013’s SB 1078 (Barker) and HB 2322 (Surovell).

“Snow Days” This Week!

A forecast for snow on Tuesday, and ice and snow on the ground combined with bitter cold temperatures  on Wednesday and Thursday caused the scheduled visits of seven colleges and their students to be cancelled this week!  We were delighted to see staff and students from Central Virginia, Virginia Highlands, and Wytheville Thursday, and appreciate their willingness to brave the wintry conditions to meet with their legislators and share their passion and stories about themselves and their  colleges!  Next week, we will welcome students from Patrick Henry, Reynolds, Southwest Virginia, Eastern Shore, Thomas Nelson, Virginia Western, Danville, Southside Virginia,  the Norfolk campus of Tidewater, and the Loudoun, Manassas, Woodbridge, and Annandale campuses of NVCC. 

Look for some of the highlights of this week’s and next week’s visits on our blog

A list of bills of interest that we are following is attached. To date, there have been 2382 bills introduced; 395 have passed the House, 330 have passed the Senate, 167 have failed, and 58 have been carried over to 2015.  This means that the upcoming days before crossover on February 11 will be extremely busy!

Ellen Davenport

Ellen Davenport is assistant vice chancellor for governmental relations for the VCCS. She works with the Chancellor and Virginia's 23 community college presidents to advance the financial and policy priorities of the VCCS with the Virginia General Assembly and Congress.

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