2021 General Assembly Weekly Summary

2-5-2021

2021 General Assembly Update
Key Education-Related Subjects
Week ending Friday, February 5, 2021 – CROSSOVER REPORT

Fairfax County Public Schools, Office of Government Relations

Additional information regarding the education-related legislation described below, as well as for all other bills related to education can be found in the thirteen subject categories located on the web pages of the FCPS Office of Government Relations at https://www.fcps.edu/about-fcps/departments-and-offices/government-relations/virginia-general-assembly.  Bills in these categories are linked to the Virginia Division of Legislative Services web pages, which provide up-to-date summary, fiscal impact and bill status information.

Governor Calls Special Session

The Governor called the members of the General Assembly into Special Session on Wednesday, February 10 to align the legislative calendar with the customary 46-day length for odd-numbered years. This schedule will coincide with the conclusion of the current 30-day session that began on January 13 and is being implemented to ensure the legislature can complete its work on the state budget and pandemic relief. The new projected date for the Special Session to adjourn is now Saturday, February 27.

Post Crossover

All legislation under consideration at this point in Session has already passed in one chamber and is now being considered by the other.  If a bill passes in identical form in both the House and Senate, it goes to the Governor for his review.  If a bill passes the House and Senate with differences, and each chamber insists on its own version, such bills are sent to a conference committee, made up of three members from each chamber (usually including the bill’s patron).  If a conference committee comes to a resolution, that resolution is sent to the floor of each chamber for a straight up or down vote.

Budget Wednesday

Due to the convening of the Special Session, the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance & Appropriations Committee are now scheduled to release their proposed budget amendments to the Governor’s budget on Wednesday, February 10 to coincide with the first day of the Special Session..  Any unresolved differences in these proposed budget amendments to the Governor’s Introduced budget will be resolved by conferees appointed by the House and Senate prior to the end of Session.  Conferees proposed resolution is then sent to each chamber for a final vote.

K-12 Education Related Bills – Key Bills Previously Reported with Status Updates

In-Person Learning SB 1303 (Dunnavant) was amended and would require each local school division make either in-person or virtual learning available to all students by choice of the student's parent or guardian.  Also, the bill’s emergency clause was removed, meaning that if it were to pass it wouldn’t go into effect until July 1, 2021. The Senate passed this bill which will now be forwarded to the House for consideration.

Advertising Related to School Quality HB 2003 (Samirah) this legislation was amended and would now require the Department of Law’s Division of Consumer Counsel (Division) to make recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly by November 1, 2021 for any legislation that the Division deems necessary to prevent the misleading or deceiving of consumers by the use of information in advertising regarding the quality of any public or private elementary or secondary school other than information derived from the school quality indicators contained in the School Quality Profiles established by the Department of Education or information derived from the school’s website or the website of the school’s district.  The legislation also would not go into effect unless re-enacted during the 2022 General Assembly Session.  Note that the House passed the bill and forwarded it to the Senate.

Standards of Quality School Equity and Staffing Act; Work-Based Learning; Teacher Leaders and Mentors; Principal Mentors; Certain Personnel Positions and initiatives  SB 1257 (McClellan) was amended and would now require each school board to provide at least three specialized student support positions per 1,000 students, which could include any of the following: school social workers, school psychologists, school nurses, licensed behavior analysts, licensed assistant behavior analysts, and other licensed health and behavioral positions.  The amended version of SB 1257 also included the Senate “clause” specifying that the bill does not go into effect unless funding is appropriated for it.  Note that the Senate passed the bill and forwarded it to the House.  Also note that the House did not pass HB 1929 (Aird) which had provisions which paralleled SB 1257.

Standards of Learning Assessments; Reduction; Report SB 1401 (Pillion) would reduce the total number and type of required Standards of Learning assessments to the minimum requirements established by the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended.  Note:  The Senate passed the legislation and will now be considered by the House.  Note also that the House did not pass similar legislation, HB 2094 (O’Quinn).

Standards of Learning Assessments; Individual Student Growth HB 2027 (Coyner) was amended and would require the Board of Education to establish, in lieu of a one-time end-of-year assessment and for the purpose of providing measures of individual student growth over the course of the school year, a through-year growth assessment system, aligned with the Standards of Learning, for the administration of reading and mathematics assessments in grades three through eight. The bill would require such through-year growth assessment system to include at least one beginning-of-year and one end-of-year assessment in order to provide individual student growth scores over the course of the school year, provided that the total time scheduled for taking all such assessments shall not exceed 150 percent of the time scheduled for taking a single end-of-year proficiency assessment. The bill would require the Department of Education to ensure adequate training for teachers and principals on how to interpret and use student growth data from such assessments to improve reading and mathematics instruction in grades three through eight throughout the school year. The bill would require such through-year growth assessment system to be fully implemented in each local school division no later than the 2024-2025 school year.  Note: the bill has passed the House and will now be considered by the Senate.

Standards of Learning Assessments, Growth Assessment System SB 1357 (Dunnavant) was amended and would require the Board of Education to establish a through-year growth assessment system for use during the 2021–2022 and 2022–2023 school years for students in grades three through eight. The bill would require that the system be established using available federal funds and that the system provide accurate measurement of a student's performance in English and mathematics through computer adaptive technology. The bill also would require each school division to administer reading diagnostic assessments throughout the year in grades kindergarten through two, using existing assessments. The bill would require the Board of Education to report to the General Assembly on the results of the through-year growth assessments by September 1, 2022, and September 1, 2023. The provisions of the bill would be contingent on the availability of funding in the Appropriation Act.  Note: the bill passed the Senate and will now be considered by the House.

Local Arbitration Agreements; Virginia Public Procurement Act SB 1384 (Surovell) was amended and would now allow a participating locality, for any procurement solicitation or contract exceeding $10,000 for goods and nonprofessional services, to require the bidder or offeror to disclose certain information regarding pre-dispute arbitration clauses, defined in the bill, in employment and civil rights disputes, and provides that a locality may consider the policies and practices related to arbitration of each bidder and offeror. The bill also would provide that a participating locality shall require the bidder or offeror to provide written or electronic submissions to allow the locality to ascertain (i) whether the bidder or offeror requires persons with whom it is in a work relationship or prospective work relationship to sign or otherwise enter into a contract containing a pre-dispute arbitration clause that could require arbitration for an employment or civil rights dispute and (ii) whether the bidder or offeror requires end users, in carrying out the contract, to sign or otherwise enter into a contract containing a pre-dispute arbitration clause as a condition of downloading a mobile application or using a website, if the subject of the contract is to allow such end user to use such mobile application or website to pay a school district for goods or services related to education. If the bidder or offeror does require such clauses, the bidder or offeror must provide additional information including a copy of its pre-dispute arbitration clauses and information arising out of employment or civil rights disputes for the past five years. The bill would authorize a participating locality to cancel, terminate, or suspend, in whole or in part, the contract of any contractor that has violated a provision of the bill and to declare the contractor ineligible for further contracts with such locality for up to five years, if the contractor does not cure any such violation within 30 days of being notified. Note: the bill has passed the Senate and will now be considered by the House.

Academic Year Governor’s Schools, Board of Education guidance HB 2305 (Tyler) would require the Board of Education to issue guidance on the governance of academic year Governor's Schools, including communication and outreach practices, admissions policies, and guidelines on diversity, equity, and inclusion training and would require stakeholder and board representation from the geographical areas served by the Regional Governor's Schools.  Note: The House passed this legislation and it will now be considered by the Senate.

Guidelines on Excused Student Absences; Civic or Political Engagement SB 1439 (McClellan) was amended to remove political engagement and limit the excused absences to civic engagement. The Senate passed a floor substitute for this bill that would require each school board to permit one school day-long excused absence per school year for any middle or high school student who is absent from school to engage in a civic event and may permit additional excused absences for such students who are absent for such purpose.  Local school boards may require that the student provide advance notice of the intended absence and a requirement that the student provide documentation of participation in a civic event.  Note that SB 1439 has passed the Senate and will be considered by the House.  Also note that the House passed a similar bill, HB 1940 (Rasoul) which would include civic and political events and would permit one school day-long absence per school year for any middle school or high school student, which will now be considered by the Senate.

Severe Weather Conditions and Other Emergency Situations; Unscheduled Remote Learning Days HB 1790 (McNamara) and SB 1132 (Suetterlein) were both amended and would now provide that when severe weather conditions or other emergency situations have resulted in the closing of any school in a school division for in-person instruction, the school division may declare an unscheduled remote learning day whereby the school provides instruction and student services, consistent with guidelines established by the Department of Education to ensure the equitable provision of such services, without a reduction in the amount paid by the Commonwealth from the Basic School Aid Fund. The bills would prohibit any school division from claiming more than 10 unscheduled remote learning days in a school year unless the Superintendent of Public Instruction grants an extension. Note that HB 1790 has passed the House has been referred to the Senate Education and Health Committee for consideration and SB 1132 has passed the Senate and will be forwarded for consideration by the House Education Committee.

Electric Vehicle Grant Fund and Program HB 2118 (Keam) would require the Department of Environmental Quality to establish the Electric Vehicle Grant Program (the Program) for the purpose of awarding grants on a competitive basis to school boards for assisting with the complete replacement of existing diesel school buses with electric school buses no later than 2031; the implementation of recharging infrastructure or other infrastructure needed to charge or maintain such electric school buses; and workforce development and training to support the maintenance, charging, and operation of such electric school buses and developing education outreach to promote the Program. The bill would have an expiration date of July 1, 2031.  Note:  The House passed a substitute that would remove the tax revenue portion of the bill and require interested stakeholders to address how to obtain funding for the grants.  The bill will now be considered by the Senate.

Electric School Bus Projects SB 1380 (Lucas) would authorize electric utilities to partner with school divisions to implement projects designed to encourage the proliferation of school buses that are fueled in whole or in part by electricity, along with associated charging and other infrastructure, for the purpose of transporting students and that may also serve as electric grid stabilization or peak-shaving resources. The bill would also provide a tax exemption for electric school buses and associated charging and other infrastructure that is related or incidental to an authorized electric school bus project.  Note:  This bill passed the Senate and will now be considered by the House. 

Cultural Competency, Teachers and other Licensed School Board Employees HB 1904 (Jenkins) and SB 1196 (Locke) would require teacher, principal, and division superintendent evaluations to include an evaluation of cultural competency. The bill would require every person seeking initial licensure or renewal of a license from the Board of Education to complete instruction or training in cultural competency and with an endorsement in history and social sciences to complete instruction in African American history, as prescribed by the Board. The bill would also require each school board to adopt and implement policies that require each teacher and any other school board employee holding a license issued by the Board to complete cultural competency training, in accordance with guidance issued by the Board, at least every two years. Note:  The Senate passed SB 1196 and it will now be considered by the House.  HB 1904 passed the House and has been forwarded for consideration to the Senate Education and Health Committee. 

Temporary Extension of Certain Teachers' Licenses HB 1776 (Ward) was amended and would require the Board of Education to grant a two-year extension of the license of any individual licensed by the Board whose license expires on June 30, 2021, in order to provide the individual with sufficient additional time to complete the requirements for licensure.  Note: The House passed this bill which will now be forwarded to the Senate.

School Board Policies; Abusive Work Environments; Definitions. HB 2176 (Torian) would define, for the purposes of mandatory school board policies relating to abusive work environments, the terms "abusive conduct," "abusive work environment," "physical harm," and "psychological harm."  Note: The House passed an amended form of this bill to clarify that it would not preclude school boards from addressing other workplace conduct.  The bill has been referred to the Senate Education and Health Committee. 

Virginia Human Rights Act; Nondiscrimination in Employment; Sexual Harassment and Workplace Harassment HB 2155 (Watts) was amended and would now make it an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer, labor organization, or employment agency to engage in workplace harassment, including sexual harassment, as defined in the bill. The bill also would provide (i) a nonexhaustive list of factors to consider when determining whether certain conduct constitutes workplace harassment, (ii) guidelines for when a court may find an employer liable for workplace harassment, (iii) that a person claiming to be aggrieved by an unlawful discriminatory practice may file a written complaint with the Division of Human Rights within two years of the occurrence of the alleged unlawful discriminatory practice, and (iv) that an aggrieved person who has been provided a notice of his right to file a civil action for such grievance may do so within one year of receiving such notice. Note that HB 2155 passed the House and will now be considered by the Senate.  Note also that SB 1360 (McClellan) which included similar provisions, did not pass in the Senate.

Virginia Human Rights Acts; discrimination on the basis of disability HB 1848 (Sickles) was amended and would add discrimination on the basis of disability as an unlawful discriminatory practice under the Virginia Human Rights Act. The bill also would require employers, defined in the bill, to make reasonable accommodation to the known physical and mental impairments of an otherwise qualified person with a disability, if necessary to assist such person in performing a particular job, unless the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer. The bill also would prohibits employers from taking any adverse action against an employee who requests or uses a reasonable accommodation, from denying employment or promotion opportunities to an otherwise qualified applicant or employee because such employer will be required to make reasonable accommodation to the applicant or employee, or from requiring an employee to take leave if another reasonable accommodation can be provided to the known limitations related to the disability. Note:  The House passed this bill, and it will now be considered by the Senate. 

Special Education Department of Education; SB 1288 (Dunnavant) would require the Department of Education and the Board of Education to develop new policies and procedures and effect numerous modifications to existing policies and procedures to improve the administration and oversight of special education in the Commonwealth, including a provision that would require the Department of Education to amend its Individualized Education Program (IEP) Prior Notice and Parent Consent form to include an option for partial parental consent to initial implementation of the IEP.  The Senate passed the bill. It will now be forwarded for consideration by the House. 

Special Education; Training for School Divisions on Developing IEPs for Children with Disabilities HB 2299 (Carr) would require the Department of Education to provide training and guidance documents to local school divisions on the development of Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for children with disabilities, develop a training module for each individual who participates in an IEP meeting, with the exception of parents, annually conduct structured reviews of a sample of IEPs from a sufficiently large sample of local school divisions to verify that the IEPs are in compliance with state and federal laws and regulations and are of high quality, develop and maintain a statewide plan for improving its ongoing oversight of local practices related to transition planning and services for children with disabilities anwith disabilities, develop and maintain a statewide strategic plan for recruiting and retaining special education teachers, and conduct a one-time targeted review of the transition sections of a random sample of students' IEPs in each school division; communicate its findings to each local school division, school board, and local special education advisory committee; and ensure that local school divisions correct any IEPs that are found to be out of compliance no later than the end of the 2021-22 school year.  Note:  This bill passed the House with an amendment that would clarify the role of the Department of Education.  The bill has been referred to the Senate Education and Health Committee.

Special Education Regulations Amendment HB 2314 (Mugler) would require the Board of Education to amend a certain regulation relating to special education to remove the word "component" following the word "evaluation," thereby ensuring compliance with the relevant federal regulation and clarifying that the parent of a child with a disability has the right to an independent educational evaluation at public expense if the parent disagrees with an evaluation obtained by the local educational agency.  Note:  This  bill has passed the House and will now be considered by the Senate.

Special Education and Related Services for Students with Disabilities HB 2316 (Mundon King) would require the Department of Education to update its special education eligibility worksheets as necessary, including clarifying any ambiguity or vagueness in eligibility criteria, and provide to each local school division the appropriate level of guidance on eligibility determinations for special education and related services. The bill would require the Board of Education to amend its regulations to ensure that each education preparation program graduate in a K-12 general education endorsement area demonstrates proficiency in understanding the role of general education teachers on the individualized education program (IEP) team.  Note:  This bill has passed the House and will now be considered by the Senate.

Children's Services Act; special education programs HB 2117 (VanValkenburg) was amended and would require that funds expended for special education services under the Children's Services Act only be expended on educational programs that are licensed by the Department of Education. The bill would add children and youth previously placed in approved private school educational programs for at least six months who will receive transitional services, as that term is defined in the bill, in a public school setting to the target population for eligibility for the state pool of funds, provided, however, that such funds shall be allocated for such transitional services for no longer than 12 months. The bill would require the Secretary of Education, in conjunction with the Office of Children's Services and the Department of Education, to establish a work group (the Work Group) with, at minimum, certain identified stakeholders to develop a detailed plan to direct the transfer of Children's Services Act funds currently reserved for children requiring an educational placement in a private special education day school or residential facility to the Department of Education and to develop a standardized reporting process, template, and reporting requirement for private special education day school tuition rates to ensure that tuition rates can be accurately compared across schools and over time, among other duties. The bill would require that the Work Group submit its plan and recommendations to the Chairmen of the House Committee on Appropriations and Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriations by November 1, 2021.  SB 1313 (Mason) was also amended and would require that funds expended for private special education services under the Children's Services Act only be expended on educational programs that are licensed by the Board of Education or an equivalent out-of-state licensing agency. The bill also would provide that as of July 1, 2022, such funds may only be expended for programs that the Office of Children's Services certify as having reported their tuition rates.  The bill would add children and youth previously placed in approved private school educational programs for at least six months who will receive transitional services in a public school setting to the target population for eligibility for the state pool of funds. The bill would provide that state funds shall be allocated for no longer than 12 months for transitional services. The bill would require the Secretaries of Education and Health and Human Resources, in conjunction with the Office of Children's Services and the Department of Education, to establish a work group (the Work Group) with appropriate stakeholders to develop a detailed plan to direct the transfer of Children's Services Act funds currently reserved for children requiring an educational placement in a private special education day school or residential facility to the Department of Education, as well as several other topics. The bill would require that the Work Group submit its plan and recommendations to the Chairmen of the House Committee on Appropriations and Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriations by November 1, 2021, as well as a final plan and recommendations by November 1, 2022.  Note that HB 2117 was passed by the House and will now be considered by the Senate, while SB 1313 was passed by the Senate and will be considered by the House.

Children's Services Act; effective monitoring and implementation HB 2212 (Plum) would require the director of the Office of Children's Services to provide for the effective implementation of the Children's Services Act (§ 2.2-5200 et seq.) in all localities by (i) regularly monitoring local performance measures and child and family outcomes; (ii) using audit, performance, and outcomes data to identify local programs that need technical assistance; and (iii) working with local programs that are consistently underperforming to develop a corrective action plan for submission to the Office and the State Executive Council for Children's Services.  Note:  This bill has passed the House and will now be considered by the Senate.

Public institutions of higher education; certain students; financial assistance programs HB 2123 (Lopez) and SB 1387 (Boysko) were both amended and would provide that students who meet the criteria to be deemed eligible for in-state tuition regardless of their citizenship or immigration status shall be afforded the same educational benefits, including financial assistance programs administered by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, the State Board for Community Colleges, or a public institution of higher education, as any other individual who is eligible for in-state tuition. The bills would have a delayed effective date of August 1, 2022, and directs the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, in coordination with institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth, to promulgate regulations to implement the provisions of the bill.  Note that HB 2123 has passed the House and will be considered by the Senate, while SB 1387 passed the Senate and is now in the House for consideration.

School meal debt enforcement HB 2013 (Roem) would require each school board to adopt a policy that prohibits the board from filing a lawsuit against a student or the student's parent because the student cannot pay for a meal at school or owes a school meal debt.  Note: the legislation passed the House and it will now be considered by the Senate.

Student meals; participation in the Afterschool Meal Program HB 2135 (Roem) would require each school board that governs a local school division that has schools with a student population that qualifies for free and reduced-price meals at a minimum percentage of 50 percent in the prior school year and simultaneously offers educational or enrichment activities and is consequently eligible to participate in the Afterschool Meal Program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Child and Adult Care Food Program to apply to the Department of Education to participate in the Afterschool Meal Program for each such school to subsequently and simultaneously serve federally reimbursable meals and offer an afterschool education or enrichment program, pursuant to FNS guidelines and state health and safety standards. The bill would provide that the Superintendent of Public Instruction shall issue a waiver to this requirement upon determination that participation is not financially viable for a school or group of schools and would require the Department of Education to develop a process and criteria for evaluating such waivers. The bill would have a delayed effective date of July 1, 2022.   Note:  The House passed this bill, and it will now be considered by the Senate. 

JLARC Study costs of education SJ 294 (Lewis) would direct the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to study the true cost of education in the Commonwealth and provide an accurate assessment of the costs to implement the Standards of Quality. Note:  The Senate passed this bill, and it will now be considered by the House. 

Carbon monoxide detectors required HB 1823 (Askew) would require each building that was built before 2015 and that houses any public school classroom for students, licensed child day program, or other program that serves preschool-age children to be equipped with at least one carbon monoxide detector.  Note the legislation was passed by the House and will now be considered by the Senate.

Seizure management and action plans; biennial training SB 1322 (DeSteph) was amended and would provide for the submission and utilization of seizure management and action plans for students with a diagnosed seizure disorder. The bill would require that school nurses and certain school division employees biennially complete Board of Education-approved training in the treatment of students with seizure disorders. The bill would provide immunity from civil liability for acts or omissions related to providing for the care of a student under a seizure management and action plan. The bill would have a delayed effective date of July 1, 2022.  Note: the legislation passed the Senate and will now be considered by the House.

Voter Referendum; Issuance of State General Obligation Bonds for School Facility Modernization SB 1109 (Stanley) would provide for a statewide referendum, to be held November 2022, on the question of whether the General Assembly shall issue state general obligation bonds in the amount of $3 billion for the purpose of K-12 school building construction, repair, or other capital projects related to the modernization of school facilities. The results would be advisory only and are intended only to demonstrate the preference of the citizens of the Commonwealth on the issuance of such bonds.  Note:  This bill passed the Senate with a re-enactment clause and will now be considered by the House.

School-Based Health Services; Telemedicine SB 1307 (Dunnavant) would direct the Board of Medical Assistance Services to amend the state plan for medical assistance services to provide for payment of medical assistance for health care services provided in any public or private primary or secondary school, regardless of whether the student receiving care has an individualized education program or whether the health care service is included in a student's individualized education program. The bill requires that covered services include applied behavior analysis, preventive health care, behavioral health care, diagnostic care including routine screenings, and acute care services and that services may be provided in person or through telemedicine. The bill also requires the Department of Medical Assistance Services to provide technical assistance to the Department of Education and local school divisions to facilitate their understanding of and compliance with federal ordering, referring, and prescribing (ORP) provider screening and enrollment requirementsNote:  The Senate passed this bill.  It will now be forwarded for consideration by the House.

Equitable Educational Opportunities Constitutional Amendment (first reference); Public Schools in the Commonwealth; SJ 275 (Stanley) would amend the Constitution of Virginia to require the General Assembly to provide for a system of public schools in the Commonwealth with equitable educational opportunities for all children and to ensure that all school-age children are provided with equal educational opportunities.  Note:  This bill passed the Senate and will now be considered by the House.

Child Care Assistance Program HB 2206 (Filler-Corn) was amended and would create the COVID-19 Child Care Assistance Program (the Program) to provide financial assistance for child care to families in need during the public health emergency caused by COVID-19. The bill would direct the Department of Education (the Department) to administer the Program and to create a process through which applicants may apply online to participate in the Program. The bill would provide that after a Program participant has selected an eligible child care provider, the Department shall issue a voucher, for full-time or part-time care, directly to the provider and provide notice of the amount of the voucher to the Program participant. The would bill provide that an applicant shall be eligible to participate in the program if the family’s income does not exceed 85 percent of the state median income, the family includes at least one chile who is five years of age or younger and has not yet started kindergarten, and the family meets all other income and eligibility requirement of the Program.  A family described in this subdivision would be eligible for assistance for each child in the family who is under the age of 13.  The bill would contain an emergency clause and will sunset on the last day of the sixth month after its passage.  Note:  The House passed the bill and forwarded it for consideration by the Senate.  The bill has been assigned to the Senate Education and Health Committee.

Department of Health; Certain Communication Prohibited SB 1235 (Peake) was amended and would now prohibit any person employed by the Department or a local department of health or who has entered into a contract to provide services on behalf of the Department or a local department of health shall initiate communication regarding health-related matters set forth in  subsection B of § 22.1-207.1 with a minor on behalf of the Department or local department of health without the consent of the minor's parent or guardian or person serving in loco parentis. This provision would not apply to school nurses, physicians, or Virginia Department of Health employees or agents who are inquiring about medical conditions, outbreaks, pandemics, or any other declared state of emergency relating to a communicable disease or public health threat.  Note:  This bill passed the Senate as described above and has been referred to the House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee.  Note also that a bill with related provisions, HB 2084 (Byron) did not pass the House.

Paid sick leave HB 2137 (Guzman) would require employers to provide certain employees paid sick leave. An employee is eligible for paid sick leave under the bill if the employee is an essential worker and works on average at least 20 hours per week or 90 hours per month. The bill would provide for an employee to earn at least one hour of paid sick leave benefit for every 30 hours worked. An employee would not be allowed to use more than 40 hours of earned paid sick leave in a year, unless the employer selects a higher limit. The bill would provide that earned paid sick leave may be used for (i) an employee's mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; an employee's need for medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; or an employee's need for preventive medical care or (ii) care of a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; care of a family member who needs medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; or care of a family member who needs preventive medical care. The bill would prohibit employers from taking certain retaliatory actions against employees related to leave. The bill would provide for a hardship waiver for employers that demonstrate that providing paid sick leave threatens the financial viability of the employer, jeopardizes the ability of the employer to sustain operations, significantly degrades the quality of the employer's business operations, or creates a significant negative financial impact on the employer. The bill would require the Commissioner of Labor and Industry to promulgate regulations that (a) identify workers as essential based on the categories listed in the bill; (b) include reasonable requirements for recordkeeping, confidentiality, and notifying employees of their rights under provisions of the bill; (c) establish complaint, investigation, and enforcement procedures that include fines, not to exceed $500, for violations of provisions of the bill; (d) establish requirements for compensation and accrual of paid sick leave for employees employed and compensated on a fee-for-service basis; and (e) include procedures and requirements for an employer to qualify for a hardship waiver.  Note: the legislation passed the House and it will now be considered by the Senate.

Reporting outbreaks of COVID-19 SB 1362 (Lewis) was amended and would require that, upon determination that a worksite cluster of COVID-19 has occurred at a workplace with 50 or more employees, the Department of Health (the Department) shall make a report available to the public on a website maintained by the Department that includes (i) the name of the employer at which a worksite cluster has been reported and (ii) the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported by such employer. The Department would also be required to report when previously reported outbreaks are under control. The bill would define "worksite cluster" as five or more cases with illness onset or initial positive results within a 14-day period and a likely epidemiologic linkage between cases. The bill would provide that the provisions of the act shall expire upon expiration of the Governor's declared state of emergency in response to the continued spread of the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus, or COVID-19 and are contingent on funding in a general appropriation act.  Note the legislation passed the Senate after the emergency clause was removed and it will now be considered by the House.

Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back (G3) Fund and Program established HB 2204 (Filler-Corn) and SB 1405 (Saslaw) would establish the Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back (G3) Fund and require the Virginia Community College System to establish the G3 Program for the purpose of providing financial assistance from the Fund to certain low-income and middle-income Virginia students who are enrolled in an educational program at an associate-degree-granting public institution of higher education that leads to an occupation in a certain high-demand field. The bill would contain provisions for student eligibility, financial assistance award amounts, and data reporting.  Note:  HB 2204 has passed the House and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Education and Health.  SB 1405 was reported by the Senate for consideration by the House.

June Primary Election Date SB 1148 (Kiggans) would change the date of the primary election held in June from the second Tuesday in June to the third Tuesday in June.  Note:  The Senate passed this bill, and it will now be considered by the House. 

Virginia Digital Equity Pilot Program and Fund SB 1462 (Mason) would require the Department of Social Services to establish a pilot program to provide a fixed reimbursement for the costs of broadband services to households currently participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The bill would have an expiration date of July 1, 2024 and is contingent on funding in a general appropriation act. Note:  The Senate passed this bill, and it will now be considered by the House. 

Health Standards of Learning; advanced directive education. SB 1190 (Kiggans) would direct the Board of Education to include advanced directive education in its curriculum framework for the Health Standards of Learning for high school students.  Note the Senate passed this bill and it will now be considered by the House.

Failed K-12 Education Related Bills Resulting in Potential Future Action

School Nurses SB 1191 (Kiggans) would have required each local school board to employ at least one full-time equivalent school nurse position in each elementary school, middle school, and high school in the local school division. The bill would also would have required the Department of Education to establish and administer a waiver process for local school boards for which the requirements of the bill create an undue hardship.   Note:  This bill failed but the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee recommended that a workgroup be formed to study the recommended staffing ratios included in the bill.

Subject Matter Referrals to the FOIA Council.  Both of the following bills failed but their subject matter will be considered by the Virginia Freedom of Information Act Council during the off-session.

  • Definition of “Meeting;” Virginia Freedom of Information Act HB 1997 (Murphy) would have increased from three to four the number of members of a public body meeting as an informal assemblage that constitutes a meeting under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. 
  • Charges for Production of Public Records HB 2000 (Roem) would have prohibited a public body from charging a requester for any costs incurred during the first two hours spent accessing or searching for requested records when such requester has made four or fewer individual records requests to such public body within 31 consecutive days and capped the per hour cost of any requests. 

Previously Reported K-12 Education Related Bills – Failed

Open Enrollment Policy Required SB 1317 (Dunnavant) would have required all local school boards to establish and implement policies to provide for the open enrollment to any school of any student who is eligible to receive free or reduced lunch upon the request of a parent or guardian, subject to conditions and limitations established by the local school board. 

School Division Boundaries; Conditions and Considerations HB 2247 (Aird) would have removed several conditions on the Board of Education's constitutional duty to determine school division boundaries and requires the Board, in fulfilling such duty, to consider equity in educational programs within and between school divisions. 

High School Graduation Requirements; Coding for Foreign Language HB 1947 (Davis) would have required the Board of Education, in establishing high school graduation requirements, to provide for the substitution of computer coding course credit for any foreign language course credit required to graduate with a standard or advanced diploma for children with disabilities. 

Teacher Compensation; at or above national average HB 1915 (Mugler) would have required that public school teachers be compensated at a rate that is at or above the national average.

Certain children with disabilities; one-year high school extensions permitted. HB 2277 (Bell, R.B.) would have required any child with a disability who receives special education and related services, reaches age 22 after September 30, 2020, and is scheduled to complete high school in the spring of 2021 be given the option for an extension to attend high school for the duration of the 2021-22 school year.

Family Life Education Curriculum Guidelines; Human Reproduction; Viewing of Ultrasound Video Recording HB 2244 (LaRock) would have required the instruction on human reproduction contained in the Board of Education's family life education curriculum guidelines to include the viewing of a video recording of an ultrasound of a live unborn human in the uterus.

Immunizations; Religious Tenets or Practices SB 1116 (Peake) and SB 1117 (Peake) would allow a parent or guardian to object to the vaccination or immunization of a child on the grounds that the administration of immunizing agents conflicts with his religious tenets or practices, even if an emergency or epidemic of disease has been declared by the State Board of Health, which is not allowed under current law.

COVID-19 Immunization; Prohibition on Requirement; Discrimination Prohibited HB 2242 (LaRock) would have prohibited requiring any person to undergo vaccination for COVID-19 and prohibits discrimination based on a person's vaccination status with respect to any COVID-19 vaccine with regard to education, employment, insurance, or issuance of a driver's license or other state identification or in numerous other contexts.

Pandemic Remediation Task Force HB 2184 (Wilt) would have established the 22-member Pandemic Remediation Task Force (the task force) as an advisory task force in the executive branch of state government, to be administered by the Department of Education, for the purpose of making recommendations on strategies for improving public education in the Commonwealth in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that can be implemented in each region and local school division in order to achieve a measure of uniformity in such improvements across the Commonwealth.

Children's Services Act; Eligibility for State Pool of Funds; Pilot Program Related to Educational Placement Transition for Certain Students with Disabilities SB 1133 (Suetterlein) would have contained the same provisions for licensing as SB1313 (Mason). However, this bill would also have addressed services both before and after the transition, allowed for the flexibility of funds, and required the Department of Education (the Department) and relevant local school boards to develop and implement a pilot program for up to four years in two to eight local school divisions in the Commonwealth. 

Children's Services Act; Eligibility for State Pool of Funds HB 2289 (Austin) would have declared eligible for the Children's Services Act state pool of funds any child or youth who was previously placed in an approved private school educational program for at least six months and who will receive certain transitional services in a public school setting for no longer than 12 months or whose individualized education program team has determined that his placement in a private special education day school, residential program, or other out-of-school placement could be prevented by his receipt of specialized or intensive services and supports delivered in the public school setting if such services and supports are estimated to have an annual cost that is more than three times the average annual cost of educating in a public school setting a student who does not require special education services and supports.

Student Education Accounts HB 1770 (Freitas) would have permitted any school division to establish a program to create savings accounts for students to be used for alternative educational programs. The bill would have required the Department of Education to establish policies and procedures under which the parent of each student may use such funds on public or private educational programs.

Establishment of the READ Fund and READ programs HB 2090 (Cox) would have established the Reimbursement for Education Access Decisions (READ) Fund (the Fund) and permitted any school board to provide, during the state of emergency declared by the Governor in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, funds to any parent or legal guardian who meets compulsory attendance requirements by having his child taught by a tutor or teacher of qualifications prescribed by the Board of Education and approved by the division superintendent in lieu of enrollment in the local school division to cover certain costs of such education; and permitted any such school board to apply to the Department of Education for an award from the Fund to reimburse the school board for half of the cost of making reimbursements to parents pursuant to its READ program. The bill would have provided that the school board was responsible for covering the remaining half of the cost of its READ program with such federal and local funds as may be available for such purpose.

Home instruction and private school tax credit HB 2243 (LaRock) would have created an individual, nonrefundable income tax credit for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2021, but before January 1, 2026, for amounts paid by the parent or legal guardian of a child for the child's home instruction expenses or tuition for attending an accredited private school in Virginia.

Empowerment Scholarship Accounts HB 2225 (Davis) would have permitted the parents of certain children to apply to the school division in which the child resides for a one-year, renewable Empowerment Scholarship Account that consists of an amount that is equivalent to a certain percentage of all applicable annual Standards of Quality per pupil state funds appropriated for public school purposes and apportioned to the resident school division in which the student resides, including the per pupil share of state sales tax funding in basic aid and any state per pupil share of special education funding for which the student is eligible. 

Use Sick Leave for the Care of Immediate Family Members SB 1159 (Favola) would have required employers with a sick leave program to allow an employee to use his sick leave for the care of an immediate family member. The measure would apply only to employers that have 25 or more employees and that provide paid sick leave that allows an employee to be absent from work in the event of the employee's own incapacity, illness, or injury. The measure would apply only to employees who work at least 30 hours per week, and it caps the amount of sick leave that may be used for the care of immediate family members at five days per calendar year. 

Right to Work HB 1755 (Carter) would have repealed the provisions of the Code of Virginia that, among other things, prohibit any agreement or combination between an employer and a labor union or labor organization whereby nonmembers of the union or organization are denied the right to work for the employer, membership in the union or organization is made a condition of employment or continuation of employment by such employer, or the union or organization acquires an employment monopoly in any such enterprise.

Prohibition on Striking; Exception for School Board Employees HB 1780 (Carter) would have exempted employees of a local school board from the prohibition on striking, and from termination of employment for striking, by public employees. 

Collective Bargaining: Prohibited Considerations During Negotiations HB 1794 (Davis) would have prohibited any local ordinance or resolution granting or permitting collective bargaining from permitting consideration during collective bargaining negotiations of any action or discussion regarding the hiring, firing, or disciplining of a local employee. All such actions and discussions would be exempt from all collective bargaining negotiations. 

Assault and Battery or Threats of Bodily Injury; Sports Official; Penalty HB 1791 (McNamara) would have provided that if any person commits a simple assault or assault and battery against another knowing or having reason to know that such other person is a sports official who is engaged in the performance of his duties as such during a sports event or on the premises where a sports event is held immediately preceding or following a sports event, such person is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Standards of Quality constitutional amendment HJ 548 (Hurst) would have provided that it is the responsibility of the Commonwealth, rather than the General Assembly, to provide for a system of free public elementary and secondary schools and to ensure a high-quality educational program is established and maintained. The amendment also would have removed the authority of the General Assembly to revise the standards of quality that are determined and prescribed by the Board of Education for school divisions.

Income tax; rate increase; funding for schools and law-enforcement officer salaries. SB 1286 (Deeds) would have increased from 5.75 percent to 5.9 percent the income tax rate on income over $150,000 and dedicated revenue from the increase to be appropriated for nonrecurring capital expenditures of school divisions and salary increases for state and state-supported law-enforcement officers.