The General Assembly session officially began at noon on January 14. The first week of the General Assembly has been incredibly fast-paced. As of Friday, Jan. 16, 1915 bills had been introduced. The deadline for members to file budget amendment requests was today at 5:00 p.m.
Workforce Incentive Bill Advances
Last Thursday, a VCCS top priority bill was heard and is advancing. SB 971 (Ruff) was unanimously reported from the Senate Education and Health Committee and re-referred to the Senate Finance Committee. SB 971 establishes the Workforce Incentive Fund which will provide a $1,000 incentive payment to a community college for each student who (i) has successfully completed a noncredit workforce training program at the community college and (ii) subsequently obtains an industry-recognized certification or license in a high employer demand field in the region served by the community college. Chancellor DuBois testified in support of the bill, and told the committee that the bill addresses the critical skills gap by directly increasing the supply of skilled workers to meet the demands of Virginia’s businesses. The Chancellor stressed that this pay-for-performance incentive is aimed at credentials that lead to skilled and high demand occupations, and ensures that the General Assembly invests only in the winners and only pays for the credentials that matter the most to businesses. Senator Ruff has also filed a $7.5 million budget amendment to accompany SB 971 .
Sexual Assault and Reporting Bills Filed
To date, there have been 13 bills filed to address the issue of sexual assault and reporting of campus sexual violence, and even more bills are expected to be filed. A joint meeting of the House Courts of Justice Committee and the House Education Committee was held today and featured speakers from a women’s center at a four-year institution, a prosecutor in a local Commonwealth Attorney’s office, and a representative from the National Association of Personnel Administrators. Testimony and questions from the members centered around the Clery Act, Title IX, and the role of threat assessment teams.
Delegate David Albo, who chairs the Courts of Justice Committee, indicated that he will be introducing a bill to standardize the protocol that every Title IX administrator must provide to any student who reports an incident. He asked for the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia, the Department of Criminal Justice Services, prosecutors, and the Chiefs of Police Association to weigh in on the bill, and indicated that it would be heard in two weeks.
All Virginia community colleges are held to the federal standards of the Clery Act and Title IX. Each school is tasked with updating their policies to ensure compliance. In addition, all Virginia community colleges have threat assessment teams and have been provided with guidance on Title IX; each college with a police department is required to complete a Memorandum of Understanding with the Virginia State Police which indicates that resources will be shared upon request for any felony sexual assault. In addition, the Clery Act requirements state that colleges must publish sexual assault information in their Annual Security Report.
Based on several recent incidents and reports of sexual violence to students who were attending four-year residential universities in Virginia, there likely will be legislation passed in the 2015 session which addresses sexual assault and reporting at Virginia’s colleges and universities. It will be important to distinguish the difference between four-year, residential institutions and Virginia’s community colleges (which do not have dormitories) during these deliberations.
Community College Student Visits Begin
From now until mid-February, community college students from across Virginia will travel to Richmond to experience a day in the General Assembly, bringing their diverse backgrounds, challenges, and successes with them. Students from Eastern Shore, Mountain Empire, and Reynolds community college paid visits to their legislators last week. Next week, students from Patrick Henry, Southwest, Northern Virginia, Rappahannock, Tidewater, Paul D. Camp, Piedmont, Blue Ridge, Danville, Dabney S. Lancaster, Germanna, and New River will be visiting. Pictures, stories, and other notes from these and future students visits will be highlighted on our blog at : http://vccs2staging.wpengine.com/community/posts/.
Bills of interest to the VCCS are clickable at the legislative tracking page, and other General Assembly resources are linked there as well. Please let Ellen Davenport know if you have any questions or additions.
Pictured above: Chancellor Glenn DuBois speakes to students from Eastern Shore, Mountain Empire and Reynolds community colleges as they begin their Every Day is Community College Day visits.
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