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Volume XXVII, Issue 2 - February 5, 2016


Controversial Education Bills Rise to Center Stage

Public Hearing Highlights Varied Stances on Common Core Standards


This week in the West Virginia Legislature, both the House of Delegates and Senate are working through measures that have the potential to transform the state’s education system.

The House of Delegates hosted a public hearing on Feb. 4 to discuss House Bill 4014 - Preventing the State Board of Education from implementing common core academic standards and assessments.

Several people spoke for and against repealing the common core standards. Those closely involved in the education system, teachers and school officials, seemed mostly for keeping the standards while parents said the standards need repealed.

Jeff Kimball, father of 3 from Harrison County, said there are a lot of problems that have been articulated in regards to common core.

“I believe (it) must be rejected,” he said. “The question of who will control our children’s education is a matter of importance.”

Mike Green, president of WVBOE, said the system works.

“There are elements of this bill that go way, way too far beyond the authority and capability of the legislature,” he said. “It’s an insult to hardworking, underpaid, underappreciated teachers of this state - enough is enough.”

Chairman of the House Education Committee Delegate Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson, said it’s unfortunate that the state is in the situation it’s in with common core standards.

“There’s still a lack of confidence in those standards,” Espinosa said. “I had hoped we could put this issue behind us but I think my concern and a number of my colleagues, parents, and others around West Virginia is that the board repealed the previous standards and those that replaced were common core re-branded.”

Espinosa said in many respects the initial changes asked for by the Legislature were cosmetic in nature.

“What we’ve tried to do is to one codify the repeal, something our members felt was important to do, to set forth what we believe was a thoughtful process to develop standards that will win the confidence of West Virginians,” he added.

The Senate is taking up home schooling legislation and allowing home schoolers to participate in public school activities. The chairman of the committee also said the agenda is focusing on riding the state education system of too much oversight. “Overall, my focus has been to look for ways in which the Legislature can reduce administrative overhead and bureaucracy so the teachers have less time devoted toward filling out reports and paperwork and more time focused for the classroom,” said Senate Education Chairman Sen. Dave Sypolt, R-Preston.

Last week, Senate Bill 13 - Increasing penalties for overtaking and passing stopped school buses - passed the Senate. The bill moved through the House Judiciary Committee late this week.

Other education related bills moving through the Legislature include House Bill 4291 - Increasing penalties for teachers who commit sexual offenses against children.

Education-related bills:
SB 42 - Permitting school nurses to possess and administer opioid antagonists on or near school premises
SB 113- Increasing teacher pay over 5-year period
SB 249 - Providing an exception to prohibition of possession of deadly weapon on primary or secondary education facility
SB 313 - Changing mandatory school instruction time from 180 days to minutes
SB 373 - Granting full control of BOE regional education service agencies to state superintendent
HB 2164 - Providing pay increases for teachers and counselors
HB 2799 - Requiring all high schools to teach fetal development
HB 2972 - Requiring the accumulation of one and one-half years of instruction in the study of the Declaration of Independence and other founding American historical documents

 


Completed Legislation

House Bill 4005 would repeal prevailing hourly rate of wages requirements.




Bills Passed from the Senate

As of 4:00 p.m., Friday, February 5, 2016, the 24th day of the second sessions of the 82nd Legislature, 530 bills have been introduced in the Senate. Of those, 21 of the bills have passed and have been sent to the House for further consideration. Among those:

Senate Bill 15 would adopt learned intermediary doctrine as defense to civil action due to inadequate warnings or instructions. A manufacturer or seller of a prescription drug or device may not be held liable in a product liability action for a claim based upon inadequate warning or instructions unless it proves a specific set of elements.

Senate Bill 27 would permit county commissions hire outside attorneys for collection of taxes through courts.

Senate Bill 40 would be able to change the definition of facilities eligible for funding assistance from Courthouse Facilities Improvement Authority. It adds buildings or structures that will be occupied upon renovation to the definition of “courthouse facility.”

Senate Bill 109 would repeal code provisions related to certain reports by trustees for property.

Senate Bill 123 would provide treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. A health care professional who makes a clinical diagnosis of a sexually transmitted disease may provide expedited partner therapy for the treatment of the sexually transmitted disease.

Senate Bill 150 would authorize the Department of Transportation promulgate legislative rules.

Senate Bill 254 would not allow county park commissions to prohibit firearms in facilities.

Senate Bill 261 would bring state code relating to daylight saving time in conformity with Federal code.

Senate Bill 268 would abolish the Council of Finance and Administration.

Senate Bill 271 would conform the definition of attest services to Uniform Accountancy Act.

Senate Bill 288 would create one-day special license for charitable events to sell non-intoxicating beer.

Senate Bill 306 would permit the sale of county or district property online.

Senate Bill 329 would eliminate sunset provision for commission to study residential placement of children.

Senate Bill 333 would deal with the taking and registering of wildlife. It would be unlawful to take, obtain, purchase, possess or maintain in captivity any live wildlife, wild animals, wild birds, game or fur-bearing animals.

Senate Bill 334 would identify coyote as fur-bearing animal and woodchuck as game animals.

Senate Bill 336 relates to crossbow hunting.

Senate Bill 338 would compile and maintain Central State Mental Health Registry.

Senate Bill 343 would authorize prosecuting attorneys designate law enforcement officers and investigators as custodians of records.

Senate Bill 369 would reduce legislative education reporting requirements. Annual recommendations and reporting the findings would no longer be required.

Senate Bill 379 relates to candidate filing fees. Candidates would pay the fee to an election official instead of the clerk of the county commission.

Senate Bill 387 would create shared animal ownership agreements to consume raw milk. It would permit a responsible party to acquire a percentage ownership interest to consume raw milk.

Additional Senate Bills

Senate Bill 6 would require drug screening and testing of applicants for TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families).

Senate Bill 21 would allow certain sales of alcohol at 10 a.m. Sundays. Retail licenses may sell liquor between 10 a.m. and midnight on Sundays for example.

Senate Bill 24 would repeal the code relating to mandatory motor vehicle inspections. Repealing the sections of the code would make it legal to operate and drive a motor vehicle without an inspection.

Senate Bill 28 relates to county commission and municipality agreements in demolishing buildings unfit for habitation.

Senate Bill 35 would adopt federal definition for disabled veterans’ preference eligibility for civil service jobs and vendor contracts.

Senate Bill 42 would permit school nurses to possess and administer opioid antagonists on or near school premises.

Senate Bill 59 would provide discount to West Virginia National Guard and Reserve members for state park campground rental fees.

Senate Bill 122 would make it permissible to carry firearms in state parks, state forests, recreation areas in state wildlife management areas and state trails managed by the Division of Natural Resources. They may carry for self-defense or defense of others.

Senate Bill 125 would increase the tax on cigarettes to fund substance abuse and workforce development initiatives. Starting July 2016, the tax would increase to $1.05. By July 2018, the tax would be $1.55.

Senate Bill 127 would give rights to grandparents in child custody cases. A grant of visitation can be provided to a grandparent when they have been a significant or primary caretaker of the child for over one year. Greater importance shall be placed on that factor in the court.

Senate Bill 298 would allow restaurants, private clubs and wineries sell alcoholic beverages on Sundays.

Senate Bill 303 would provide all hunting and fishing licenses are valid for one year from date of issue.

Senate Bill 315 would construct a statewide, fiber optic broadband infrastructure network. The 2,500 miles of fiber would reach to each county in the state to bring high speed internet to more rural areas.

Senate Bill 324 would allow transportation network companies to operate in West Virginia. The companies would a digital network to connect transportation network company riders to transportation network company drivers who provide prearranged rides.

Senate Bill 327 would construct a modern highway from Pikeville, Kentucky to Beckley, West Virginia. The project’s initiative is aimed at revitalizing areas that have experienced high rates of unemployment in recent years.

Senate Bill 361 would prohibit any persons who have committed crimes against elderly from performing community service involving elderly.

Senate Bill 367 would prohibit sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school. It would be required of all sex offenders, both on supervised and unsupervised release.



Bills Passed from the House

As of 4:00 p.m., Friday, February 5, 2016, the 24th day of the second session of the 82nd Legislature, 876 bills have been introduced in the House. Of those, 24 of the bills have passed and have been sent to the Senate for further consideration. Among those:

House Bill 4244 (Eliminating the need for a public hearing when no objection is filed on application from an out of state state-chartered credit union to establish a branch in West Virginia) would eliminate the need for public hearing to act on an application from an out of state credit union when no objection is filed within 10 days.

House Bill 4245 (Requiring the cashier or executive officer of a banking institution to provide shareholders with the institution’s most recent year-end audited financial statement) would replace the obsolete requirement of establishing an examining committee and clarify that a bank must employ an outside auditing firm. It also would provide for shareholders to be given the bank’s most recent year-end audited statement at their annual meeting.

House Bill 4311 (Relating to qualifications of members of the Board of Landscape Architects) would add citizen and non-practicing members to the board and provide for their removal upon obtaining an active license.

House Bill 4313 (Relating to qualifications of members of the Board of Architects) would add citizen and non-practicing members to the board and provide for their removal upon obtaining an active license. The bill would also provide an exemption to individuals with an inactive, retired or emeritus license from the prohibition against using the title.

House Bill 4235 (Relating to the publication requirements of estates) would work to make the time period for claims against the estate uniform in all counties. This particular bill would make identical change in the counties that have elected use the fiduciary supervisor system. This bill will now be sent to the Senate for further discussion.

House Bill 4175 (Relating generally to home schooling) would work to clarify that a student who is home schooled may not be classified as habitually absent. This bill would also work to remove the requirement that the person providing the home schooling instruction have a high school diploma. This bill will now be sent to the Senate for further discussion.

House Bill 4243 (Extending the time that certain nonprofit community groups are exempt from the moratorium on creating new nursing home beds) would work to extend the time that certain nonprofit community groups are exempt from the moratorium on creating new nursing home beds. This bill will now be sent to the Senate for discussion.

Additional House Bills

House Bill 4384 (Permitting students to opt out of taking certain academic assessments) would work to recognize the parental or legal guardianship authority to direct their children’s education, including the right to refuse certain academic assessments of their children. This bill is currently being discussed in the House Education Committee.

House Bill 4364 (Internet Privacy Protection Act) would work to the privacy of personal electronic data for employees and applicants for employment, and to authorize employers to investigate to ensure compliance with applicable protections of certain business information. This bill is currently being discussed in the House Judiciary Committee.

House Bill 4363 (The Healthy and Safe Workplace Act) would work to create a new cause of action to deter workplace bullying. This bill would make it an unlawful employment practice to subject an employee to an abusive work environment that exists when the defendant, acting with malice, subjects an employee to abusive conduct so severe that it causes tangible harm to the employee. This bill is currently being discussed in the House Industry and Labor Committee.

House Bill 4347 (Providing pregnant women priority to substance abuse treatment) would work to give pregnant women priority to substance abuse treatment. This bill is currently being discussed in the House Select Committee on Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse.

House Bill 4391 (Issuing identification documents to homeless individuals residing at homeless shelters) would work to require the Division of Motor Vehicles to provide certain identification documents to homeless individuals, residing at homeless shelters within this state, at no cast. This bill is currently being discussed in House Judiciary Committee.

House Bill 4388 (Relating to stroke centers) would work to require the Bureau for Public Health to designate certain hospitals as stroke centers and require the Office of Emergency Medical Services to establish protocols to treat and transport stroke patients. This bill is currently being discussed in the House Health and Human Resources Committee.

House Bill 4373 (Prohibiting exposing a dog or cat that is a companion animal to extreme weather conditions that result in injury or death) would work to prohibit exposing a dog or cat that is a companion to extreme weather conditions that results in injury or death. This bill is currently being discussed in House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

House Bill 2366 (Relating generally to the solicitation of minors) would amend the provisions of the current code that would allow law-enforcement officers to conduct undercover investigations to identify and prosecute adults who use computers to solicit minors or persons they believe to be minors for sexual activity. It also will create a new felony for the offense of soliciting a minor and then traveling to meet with an engage in any prohibited sexual activity or conduct with a minor.

House Bill 2511 (Health Care Sharing Ministries Freedom to Share Act) would exempt health care sharing ministries from state statutory requirements of individual and group accident and health insurance policies. The bill would also set forth the conditions that must be met.

House Bill 4145 (Relating to carry or use of a handgun or deadly weapon) would establish that anyone over 21 years of age can carry a concealed deadly weapon without a state license or permit.

House Bill 4163 (Providing the authority and procedure for municipalities to give notice to, and publish the names of, entities delinquent in paying business and occupation taxes) would provide municipalities with the authority and procedure to publish the names of entities delinquent in filing and paying business and occupation taxes.

House Bill 4393 (Relating to enhanced penalties for use of a firearm during commission of a felony) would provide for enhanced penalties for use of a firearm during commission of a felony, and it also would provide exceptions to such enhanced penalties.

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Senate Bill 1
The Weat Virginia Workplace Freedom Act, also known as the Right-to-Work Bill, completed legislation after a 54-46 vote in the House of Delegates.
PHOTO: Perry Bennet
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