General Assembly Week 3 Update: Jan. 26, 2018
Submitted by Ellen R. Davenport, Ph.D., Assistant Vice Chancellor for Governmental Relations
We are now 2 ½ weeks from February 13, which is “crossover” day, so activity on legislation will be fast and furious over the next two weeks. Budget report-outs from the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee will be on February 18. Major decisions on budget items will start being finalized in the next two weeks.
High-profile issues in the General Assembly this week have been Medicaid expansion, election reform to deal with close election results, and electric utility rate increases and the oversight of the State Corporation Commission. Yesterday, there were three bills in the Senate Education and Health Committee which failed; all would have expanded Medicaid, either through waivers for certain medical conditions, a requirement that recipients work or pursue job training, or a combination. Resolution of Medicaid expansion will now be part of final budget negotiations; this is significant because Medicaid expansion was interwoven into former Governor Terry McAuliffe’s budget, so there will be ramifications throughout the budget, depending on the ultimate outcome.
Action on VCCS Bills
On January 22, the Higher Education subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee reported several dual enrollment bills, and re-referred them to the House Appropriations Committee. HB 3 (Landes), HB 535 (Freitas) and HB 1321(Cole) all deal with uniform transferability of dual enrollment course credits. Because of the fact that an omnibus dual enrollment and transfer bill (HB 919-Jones) has already been assigned to the House Appropriations Committee, the bills will be considered together and likely conformed. A number of organizations spoke in favor of HB 3, including the Virginia Education Association, the Virginia Association of School Superintendents, and the Virginia Association of Middle and High School Principals. The companion to HB 919 in the Senate is SB 631 (Dunnavant).
HB 497 (Bell) which would have stipulated that home-school students pay no more in tuition and fees than public school students for dual enrollment courses did not receive the votes to be reported and was re-referred to House Appropriations.
Yesterday in the Higher Education Subcommittee of the Senate Education and Health Committee, SB 638 (Dunnavant) which would have changed the name of the Virginia Community College System to the Virginia College System did not advance.
Workforce Credentials Grant/FastForward Funding Momentum is Building
On Tuesday, Vice Chancellor for Workforce Development Services, Craig Herndon, made a presentation to the Education subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee on the success of the Workforce Credential Grant/FastForward program, and the need for additional funding in the current fiscal year and in the upcoming biennium. This subcommittee will be responsible for making the Senate Finance Committee’s budget recommendations on all PK-12 and higher education priorities in the Senate budget that will be revealed on February 18.
Dr. Herndon’s presentation was very well received. Senator Steve Newman had high praise for the program, indicating that it represented some of the most important legislation and funding of which the General Assembly has ever been a part.
The subcommittee also heard about the increasing number of high-demand occupations, the fields in which there are worker shortages, unmet demand, and the role of regions and the Virginia Board of Workforce Development from representatives from SCHEV, the Virginia Board of Workforce Development, and JLARC. Wage data from the Virginia Employment Commission, which will include the difference between workers’ income before and after their certification and credential attainment, will become available by the end of next week.
Chancellor Glenn DuBois addressed the Board of the Virginia Chamber on Thursday, and received resounding support from Chamber board members for the requested increase in the caboose bill and the biennial budget bill for increased funding.
Click on the VCCS Bills List – 1-26-18 to see the most updated of bills of interest to the VCCS by category. Bills which have failed, been stricken, or continued (“carried over”) to the 2019 General Assembly session are shaded in red.
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