As the 2013 General Assembly session reached its halfway point, a vast majority of Governor Bob McDonnell's top legislative initiatives have passed their respective houses with bipartisan support and will now be considered in the opposite chamber. Governor McDonnell's 2013 legislative initiatives are focused on transportation, K-12 education, higher education, government fiscal responsibility and job creation.
The "All Students" K-12 education reform agenda focused on increasing teacher pay, improving the ability to reward good teachers and coach underperforming educators, establishing the Governor's Center for Excellence in Teaching and the Governor's Academies for Excellent Teaching, bringing Teach for America to the Commonwealth, enhancing school report cards to provide parents and educators with clear A-F grading measures, reducing red tape for local school divisions, supporting teacher innovation and staffing, guaranteed long-term support for students to achieve key learning milestones in reading and mathematics to strengthen their education, helping students stuck in failing schools by creating a turnaround entity to ensure schools dramatically improve and reach accreditation, providing parents with more public school choice, and continuing to recognize that excellent teaching is key to a great education
Continued higher education reforms and investment to prepare Virginians for top jobs, boost job-creating research and innovation, make college degrees more affordable for students, and advance the governor's goal (now in statute) of having 100,000 more Virginians earn degrees over the next 15 years, and investing an additional $31 million in higher education, in addition to the $350 million in new money proposed by the governor over the last 3 years, to make college more affordable
"Virginia's Road to the Future" transportation funding and reform measures that provide an additional $3.1 billion in funding for building and maintaining Virginia's highways, rail and public transportation infrastructure over the next 5 years (and over $900 million annually thereafter) and continue the administration's efforts to ensure greater accountability and transparency in Virginia's transportation entities. The plan includes replacing the declining 17.5 cent gasoline tax revenues with a modest increase of .8 percent in the sales tax, raising the current general fund investment in transportation from .5 cents to .75 cents, a minor registration fee increase, capturing uncollected sales tax revenues and dedicating a portion to fund transportation, eliminating the current unsustainable practice of borrowing money meant for new projects just to fund paving and pothole patching, and establishing a constitutional amendment to protect transportation funding.
Speaking about his 2013 legislative agenda, Governor McDonnell commented, "This session, we laid out bold initiatives to lay the foundation for Virginia's future economic growth, with bills to permanently address Virginia's longstanding and long-neglected transportation funding crisis, enhance K-12 education by ensuring that every student receives a world-class education regardless of zip code or socioeconomic status, and place the Commonwealth on sound financial footing to ensure our economic recovery and continue to reduce our unemployment rate, now the 2nd lowest east of the Mississippi. I am pleased to see that these major initiatives are advancing at the half-way point of session and have garnered support from business groups, industry leaders, teachers, educators, legislators from both sides of the aisle, and the citizens of Virginia. We are focused on solving problems and getting results on the major challenges facing our citizens. That means passing policies that help the private-sector create good-paying jobs, increase access to higher education, further improve our high-quality K-12 education, build a transportation system that serves its users, make government smaller and smarter, help our veterans here at home, and ensure our citizens are safe and secure.
"We are on track to pass bold and innovative education legislation that ensures that every child has access to great teachers, that sets clear and high standards for our schools, and that establishes a roadmap to provide success and opportunity for every student in Virginia. We continue to invest in job-creating measures so our businesses can grow and thrive here in the Commonwealth. We are advancing legislation that ensures that our streets and schools remain safe so that businesses and families continue to choose to make the Commonwealth home.
"And we are moving forward with vital transportation funding and reform measures that will address the decades-old funding issues that have left Virginia unable to maintain our existing road, rail and transit infrastructure and unable to pay for needed new transportation services. This is not easy work. However, our citizens have told us loud and clear that now is the time to get something done on transportation. They deserve a modern, well-funded transportation system that will get them to work and home on time, without delay. Over the past few weeks, legislators on both sides of the aisle have heard directly from businesses, community groups, elected officials, chambers of commerce and organizations of all kinds offering their support for our efforts to solve this challenge. It is time to put in place a sustainable long-term transportation funding plan for Virginia. This session and the legislation I have proposed is our opportunity to make this lasting reform.
"I thank the members of the General Assembly for embracing these reforms and for their support of these critically important core services of government and for their partnership to make this session a productive and substantive one. These are initiatives that will greatly improve the quality of life in Virginians today while also investing in the future of the Commonwealth."
Governor McDonnell's 2013 Legislative Agenda at Crossover
Empower Excellent Teachers:
HB2151 (Bell, R.P.) / SB1223 (Norment): Educator Fairness Act. Makes several changes to the processes by which teachers and certain administrators are evaluated, streamlines the grievance process and permits removal process for a teacher who has a failing evaluation.
HB2083 (Cox) / SB1185 (Vogel): Establishes the Strategic Compensation Grant Initiative and Fund. The Fund provides that local school divisions may submit proposals to the Board of Education to receive grants that may be used as incentives to improve teacher and school performance.
Budget Amendment for a 2% teacher pay raise.
Innovation + Accountability:
HB1999 (Greason) / SB1207 (Stanley): A-F School Report Cards. Creates a pathway for the DOE to report individual school performance using a grading system in addition to the standards of accreditation.
HB2084 (K. Cox) / SB1175 (Ruff): Teach for America Act. Allows Teach for America, a nationwide nonprofit organization dedicated to closing the achievement gap, to place participants in Virginia's schools by offering a two-year provisional license for participants who meet certain criteria, including having an offer of employment from a school division in the Commonwealth.
HB2098 (Tata) / SB1189 (Martin): Red Tape Reduction Act. The bill permits the Board of Education to grant local school boards waivers of specific staffing requirements that would permit the school board to assign instructional personnel to the schools with the greatest needs, provided that the local school board provides a description of how the waiver is designed to increase the quality of instruction, and improve the achievement of students in the affected school or schools.
HB2066 (Peace) / SB1172 (Blevins): Additional Staffing and SOQ Flexibility for Local School Divisions. Permits flexibility for local school divisions that employ a sufficient number of librarians, guidance counselors, and school-based clerical personnel to meet the staffing requirements that are prescribed in Standard 2 of the Standards of Quality to assign librarians, guidance counselors, and school-based clerical personnel to schools within the division according to the area of greatest need, regardless of whether such schools are elementary, middle, or secondary.
HB2144 (Landes): Reading is Fundamental Act. Allows waivers from third grade standards of learning assessments for schools testing below 75 percent on the SOL assessment.
HB2068 (LeMunyon) / SB1171 (Blevins): Algebra Readiness Initiative. Adds kindergarten and grades one and two to the requirement that local school divisions provide early intervention services to students in grade three who demonstrate deficiencies based on their individual performance on diagnostic reading tests.
SB1194 (Alexander): Truancy Reduction Act. Provides that in certain cases when a juvenile is truant and the juvenile has not previously failed to comply with compulsory school attendance laws, the intake officer shall defer filing of a petition alleging that the child is in need of supervision for 90 days and shall instead refer the child to the family assessment and planning team for the development of a truancy plan.
Public School Choice:
HB2076 (Stolle) / SB1131 (McWaters): Removes a barrier for local school divisions who initiate a public charter school. Streamlines public charter application process by providing that charter school applications that are initiated by one or more local school boards are not subject to review by the Board of Education.
HJ0693 (Habeeb): Constitutional Amendment to Establish a Statewide School District for Failing Schools. Authorizes the General Assembly to establish a statewide school division to supervise and administer schools that have been denied accreditation for several consecutive school years, as determined by the General Assembly.
HB2096 (Habeeb) / SB1324 (McDougle): Opportunity Educational Institution. Creates the Opportunity Educational Institution to be administered and supervised by the Opportunity Educational Institution Board. The OEI will focus on turning around chronically failing public schools in the Commonwealth.
HB1442 (Bell): Provides Homeschool Students Opportunity to Try Out for Student Organizations. Prohibits public schools, under specific criteria, from joining an organization governing interscholastic programs that does not deem eligible for participation a student who is receiving home instruction.
HB1996 (Massie) / SB1227 (Stanley): Improves the Virginia Scholarship Tax Credit Program. Makes several changes to the Neighborhood Assistance Act Tax Credit and Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits program, which encourages businesses, trusts and individuals to make donations to approved 501(c)(3) organizations for the benefit of low-income persons.
INNOVATION, ENTREPRENEURSHIP + WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
SB1120 (McWaters): Small Business Assistance and Marketing Plan. Directs the DBA, CIT, VTC, and VEDP to develop a marketing campaign to attract and recognize entrepreneurs, small businesses, and emerging industry businesses.
SB1181 (Reeves): Innovation and Entrepreneurship Measurement System. Authorizes the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Investment Authority to create the Commonwealth Innovation and Entrepreneurship Measurement System as a tool to measure areas within the Commonwealth worthy of economic development and institutional focus in furtherance of the Commonwealth Research and Development Strategic Roadmap.
HB2101 (Ramadan) / SB1248 (Black): High School to Work Partnerships. Directs the Board of Education to develop guidelines for the establishment of High School to Work Partnerships between public high schools and local businesses to create apprenticeships, internships, and job shadow programs in a variety of trades and skilled labor positions.
HB1760 (Ramadan) / SB1137 (McWaters): Full Integration of the Business One Stop System. Requires the State Corporation Commission complete its system overhaul and, by June 30, 2018, to fully integrate processes and forms into the Business Permitting Center administered by the Department of Business Assistance and to process all forms within 48 business hours from the time the applicant submits the form electronically.
HB1790 (Garrett) / SB1138 (McWaters): Establishes the Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium Authority. The Authority will make the Commonwealth a national and global leader in nuclear energy and serve as an interdisciplinary study, research, and information resource for the Commonwealth on nuclear energy issues.
SB1069 (Carrico): Workforce Development Data System. Requires the Board of Education to establish the Virginia Longitudinal Data System to track and examine student progress from early childhood to postsecondary education to the student entering the workforce.
SB1188 (Martin): Career Pathways System Advisory Council. The Council will ensure the coordination and collaboration of career and technical education, adult education, and workforce development programs through business-driven sector strategies that provide for sequences of education and training articulated with higher levels of education and regional and state workforce needs and that also provide career coaching and advising support services and experiential learning.
HB2154 (Byron) / SB1177 (Ruff): Strengthens the Virginia Workforce Council. Directs the Virginia Workforce Council to provide recommendations for postsecondary vocational education activities authorized under the federal Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Education Act and on policies, plans, and procedures for other education and workforce development programs, to develop Workforce Investment Act incentive grant applications and approve criteria for such grants, to develop and approve criteria for the reallocation of unexpended funds from local workforce investment boards, and to review budgets by agencies conducting certain education and workforce development programs.
TRANSPORTATION: VIRGINIA'S ROAD TO THE FUTURE
HB2313 (W. Howell): Makes several changes to the revenues collected by the Commonwealth, and the distribution of such revenues. Eliminates the 17.5 cent per gallon tax on gasoline, increases the state sales portion of the sales tax from 4% to 4.8%, dedicates revenues for the Commonwealth Mass Transit Fund and the Intercity Rail Operating and Capital Fund, and dedicates increased revenues for the Commonwealth Transportation Fund.
HB1828 (Villanueva): Allows the purchase of land for the construction of railway lines by the Department of Rail and Public Transportation for the purpose of alleviating traffic congestion on highways.
HB2116 (Garrett) / SB1209 (Stuart): Amends the powers and duties of the Commissioner of Highways and the Commonwealth Transportation Board to create new efficiencies and streamline procedures by granting the Commissioner greater authority over administrative operations, matters involving the practice of civil engineering, and interaction with stakeholders.
SB1140 (Petersen): Implements performance-based funding for mass transit for revenues generated above $160 million in 2014 and after. Creates the Transit Service Delivery Advisory Committee to advise the Department of Rail and Public Transportation on the distribution of such funds and how transit systems can incorporate the metrics into their transit development plans.
HB2137 (Byron): Reduces Local Mandates. Raises from $500,000 to $2 million the cost threshold at which a locality will be required to obtain an environmental impact report for a highway project. The bill also exempts the sale of deicing agents containing urea from the current prohibition on sales for use by a political subdivision at a municipal airport.
HB2191 (Helsel): Reduces Local Mandates. Requires court-appointed guardians of incapacitated persons to file the annual report of all money and other property received, chargeable, or disbursed with the local department of social services where the incapacitated person resides.
SB1201 (McDougle): Regulatory Reform. Removes the requirement that the Board of Education promulgate regulations concerning the process for submitting proposals for the consolidation of school divisions and temporarily employed teachers.
SB1134 (McWaters): Better Coordination of Economic Development Tools. Moves the administration of the Virginia Jobs Investment Program from the Department of Business Assistance to the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.
HB2245 (Putney) / SB1257 (Hanger): Extends the Council on Virginia's Future. Extends the sunset date from July 1, 2013, to July 1, 2017, for the Council on Virginia's Future, which was established to develop a roadmap for Virginia's future and to assess the state's progress towards long-term goals.
HB1845 (Loupassi) / SB1178 (Ruff): Reduces the requirement for an award from the Fraud and Abuse Whistle Blower Reward Fund from $10,000 to $5,000 and expands the purposes for which the Fund may be used to include supporting the administration of the Fund, defraying Fund advertising costs, and subsidizing the operation of the Fraud, Waste and Abuse Hotline, all of which expenditure is capped at five percent of the Fund.
HB2095 (Ramadan) / SB1203 (McDougle): Provides Flexibility in Establishing the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Assigns the Assistant to the Governor for Intergovernmental Affairs to be responsible for all of the duties of the Office.
HB 2114 (Landes) / SB1176 (Ruff): Audit Function for the State Inspector General. Grants additional powers to the State Inspector General relating to audit functions of state and nonstate agencies. The bill reorganizes the State Inspector General's powers and duties and generally reorganizes the law relating to the Office of the State Inspector General. The bill contains technical amendments.
HB2048 (Sherwood) / SB1279 (Hanger): Transfers the existing responsibility for the administration of regulatory and voluntary water quality programs to the Department of Environmental Quality without expanding or changing current authority.
PUBLIC SAFETY & PRISONER REENTRY
HB1684 (Bell, R. B.) / SB1010 (Stanley): Elevates from a Class 6 felony to a Class 5 felony committing identity theft with the intent to sell or distribute the information if there are five or more victims and in cases in which the offense resulted in the arrest or detention of the victim. Identity theft involving 50 or more victims is also elevated from a Class 5 felony to a Class 4 felony.
HB1682 (Bell, R.B.): Provides protections for those with mental incapacities from those who would otherwise take advantage of these individuals for personal gain. Violations of the new provisions are punishable as larceny.
HB1847 (Albo) / SB1205 (McDougle): Expands the list of criminal street gang predicate offenses.
HB1746 (Gilbert) / SB1214 (Stuart): Adds certain crimes to the list of violent felonies.
HB1862 (Sherwood) / SB1032 (Reeves): Adds certain crimes to the list of offenses that require a person to register on the Sex Offender Registry.
HB2148 (Keam) / SB1217 (Newman): Authorizes the Department of Corrections (DOC) to exchange medical and mental health information and records of any person committed to the Department with specific state agencies and local departments of social services in the Commonwealth for the purposes of reentry planning and post-incarceration placement and services.
HB1606 (Hugo) / SB1015 (J. Howell): Provides additional Class 6 felony charges for the solicitation of prostitution from a minor over the age of 16 and younger than 18 and an additional Class 5 felony charge for the solicitation of prostitution from a minor younger than the age of 16.
HB1745 (Gilbert) / SB1031 (Reeves): Prohibits the use of communications systems or electronic means to propose sex offenses involving a child.
HB2061 (Bulova): Provides that anyone operating a truck stop in the Commonwealth must post notice of the existence of a human trafficking hotline, a national toll-free number which receives tips, connects callers with anti-trafficking services in their area, and provides training and technical assistance, general information, or specific anti-trafficking resources upon request.
HB2065 (Peace) / SB1033 (Reeves): Imposes the same penalties for offenses committed by persons confined in a juvenile correctional center as currently exist for persons who commit such offenses in an adult facility.