Posted on Monday, February 6, 2017

Weekly General Assembly Round Up – Week 4 (Jan. 30 – Feb. 3, 2017)

Budget and Crossover

Last week was an exhausting one with the announcements of the budget recommendations for both the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee,  the push for budget priorities to be funded,  and the landslide of bills that have been (or need to be)  acted on in their originating house before the February 7 “crossover.” Committees were meeting as early as 7:00 a.m., finishing late at night, and the schedule, volume, and pace are wearing on everyone.

The House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee both met on Sunday, but the detail accompanying the announced priorities is usually not available until the following Tuesday (2/7) or Wednesday (2/8). As soon as information on the VCCS’s priorities is available and validated, it will be communicated to you.     

Top budget priorities for the VCCS in the 2017 legislative session include maintenance of the $1 million in additional funding recommended by  Governor McAuliffe in FY 2017 for workforce credentials, ameliorating the recommended 5% budget cut recommended for FY 2018, and ensuring that faculty and staff are eligible for any salary increases recommended through the budget. The most recent projections shared by the Secretary of Finance still point to a deficit between current revenue forecasts and the biennial budget adopted last year. Virginia is not alone; a report just released by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities cites revenue slowdowns in multiple states and the challenge of competing priorities. 

Community Colleges Offering Baccalaureate Degree Study Bills Tabled

Both bills (HJ 611 –Del. Marshall and SJ 254 — Sen. Stanley) which would have authorized SCHEV to study the idea of our community colleges offering applied baccalaureate degrees in certain areas have been tabled.   

Dual Enrollment and Transfer Credits

HB 1662 (Del. Greason) and SB 1534 (Sen. Sturdevant) are now identical bills which would outline that the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) will establish a policy for granting undergraduate general education course credit to any entering student who has successfully completed a dual enrollment course. Both bills are scheduled for second readings in their respective houses on Monday.   

SB 1234 (Sen. Dunnavant) deals with transferability and identification of courses at Virginia’s community colleges to four-year institutions. The intent of the legislation is for transparency and uniformity of certain general education course credits earned at our community colleges to be labelled at “passport” classes and guaranteed to transfer to four-year public institutions of higher education, increasing affordability for students and parents. SB 1346 (Sen. Surovell) was rolled into SB 1234 when the Senate Education and Health Committee met on Thursday; the most recent version of Sen. Surovell’s bill would have required SCHEV to develop a listing of general education courses guaranteed to transfer from each associate-degree granting institution to a baccalaureate institution of higher education by July 1, 2018, and develop a program-specific course list by July 1, 2019, with SCHEV providing all of this information on the State Transfer tool.   

Foster Care Tuition Grant Bills

SB 1032 (Sen. Favola) has passed the Senate and been referred to the House Education Committee.  HB 1848 (Delegates Hester and LaRock) was reported from the House Education Committee and the House Appropriations Committee, and was on the House calendar on first reading yesterday. These identical bills will expand the VCCS’s foster care tuition grant program to include individuals who have been in the foster care system to pursue workforce credentials.  The program now is only available to eligible students who are pursuing academic instruction.

Military Tuition

HB 1721 (Del. Anderson) has passed the House Education Committee and the House Appropriations Committee and was on the House calendar on first reading on Friday. The intent of the legislation is to help enlisted military personnel who are already enrolled in training in their branch of the service to take more affordable online, hybrid, or face-to-face classes at Virginia’s Community Colleges and begin stacking them into additional credentials or academic credits. The legislation allows the State Board to charge reduced-rate tuition and mandatory fees for any active duty member of the Armed Forces who is enrolled in a degree program at a community college that offers online degree programs and is also enrolled in training that leads to a Military Occupational Specialty in the Army or Marine Corps, an Air Force Specialty Code, or a Navy Enlisted Classification. The legislation would also apply to eligible military personnel stationed outside of Virginia; these students would be counted as non-Virginia residents for admissions and enrollment. 

The VCCS and colleges with large military enrollments worked with Del. Anderson on this legislation prior to its introduction and the VCCS has been in daily contact with Del. Anderson during the session as the bill moves forward.   

Bill List

The bill list by category is attached and was last updated Thursday night; the numerical bill list is also attached and was updated this Saturday morning.

2017 General Assembly Bill List by category Feb 2 VCCS_Bills_Feb042017

2017 General Assembly Bill List by category Feb 2'

Ellen Davenport

Ellen Davenport is assistant vice chancellor for governmental relations for the VCCS. She works with the Chancellor and Virginia's 23 community college presidents to advance the financial and policy priorities of the VCCS with the Virginia General Assembly and Congress.

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