Daily Legislative Update: Friday, March 10, 2023
S.B. 47 creates a Charter School Stimulus Fund. The fund is established for the purpose of providing financial support to charter school applicants and charter schools that may not otherwise have the resources for start-up costs such as costs associated with renovating or remodeling existing buildings and structures and costs for the purchase of school buses. The fund consists of money appropriated by the Legislature, grants, gifts, and donations from any public or private source. The bill passed and has completed the legislative process.
Com. Sub. for S. B. 121 creates the Student Journalist Press Freedom Restoration Act, to provide for legislative findings, to require that the West Virginia Department of Education and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission allow for the free expression of student journalists on campuses of middle schools, high schools, and colleges and universities, to provide a framework and parameters for free expression, and to allow for injunctive relief in the event that this article is violated. The bill passed and was communicated to the Senate.
Comm Sub for S.B. 422 requires public schools to publish curriculum online. The bill states curriculum and a syllabus (including any books used) must be posted on the county or school website only at beginning of each new school year. An amendment was approved to permit county boards to contract the duty of posting the content out to private entities. Classroom teachers are not responsible for this task. After some floor discussion about the duplicative nature of the provisions of the bill, and the fact that most counties are already doing this, the bill passed.
Com. Sub. for S. B. 461 relates to WV public employees grievance procedure. The bill initially proposed several changes to the grievance procedure, including extending timelines for steps and requiring a notarized grievance form upon filing. The most concerning of the changes was a provision where the losing party may be required to pay the legal costs of the winning party. The employer (county BOEs) would have the unfair advantage of always paying their share on the taxpayer dime, whereas employees (or their representative organization) would shoulder that cost privately. An amendment was offered to stipulate the financial burden would only be placed on the losing party for appeals to the WV Intermediate Court of Appeals or WV Supreme Court. Additionally, the amendment stipulates that an employee who lost at the Intermediate Court of Appeals or Supreme Court level would not be required to pay for the county BOE legal fees if the employee had been the prevailing party at any point in the lower level of the process. This amendment was adopted. Additionally, amendments were adopted that removed the requirement that grievance filings be notarized, and removed the prohibition on filing grievances during a declared state of emergency. These amendments make this a much better bill for employees. The bill passed and will be communicated to the Senate.
Com. Sub. for S.B. 469 provides funding for CPR instruction to high school students. The bill passed and will be communicated to the Senate.
At press time, the Senate had not acted on these bills on the agenda.
Eng. Com. Sub. for H. B. 2005 - Establishing the dual enrollment pilot program to be administered by the Higher Education Policy Commission and the Council for Community and Technical College Education in conjunction with the State Board of Education
Eng. Com. Sub. for H. B. 3084 permits public charter schools to access School Safety funds for safety and security upgrades. (On third reading with the right to amend)
HB 3035 was passed yesterday by the Senate with amendments and sent to the House for concurrence. The Senate is still waiting on the House to concur at press time.