Posted on Monday, January 27, 2014

It’s been a busy and interesting first week in the General Assembly.  Procedural and organizational matters have dominated the first three days; committee memberships have been announced, and many bills will start to be considered in committee next week. As of this morning, 2,169 pieces of legislation have been introduced, and only 81 have begun to be considered. Today was also the deadline for budget amendments to be filed.

An updated matrix of colleges and legislators, reflecting new appointments to the House Appropriations Committee and Senate Finance Committee is attached.  In addition, a categorical listing of bills of interest that were filed as of midnight yesterday is provided.

Committee Appointments

House Appropriations Committee

New Members of the House Appropriations Committee are Delores McQuinn, Joseph Lindsey, and Larry “Nick” Rush.  Budget items related to the VCCS, and higher education bills with a fiscal impact  will be routed through the Higher Education Subcommittee of House Appropriations.  Although not officially announced yet, members of  the Higher Education Subcommittee are expected to be Kirk Cox, Jimmie Massie, Thomas “Tag” Greason, Barry Knight, Richard Anderson, Larry “Nick” Rush, Mark Sickles, and Daun Hester. 

Senate Finance Committee

The Senate Finance Committee will be co-chaired by Senators Tommy Norment and Emmett Hanger.  New members in 2016 are Senators Mark Obenshain, Siobhan Dunnavant,  and George Barker.  The Senate Finance Subcommittee on Education makes recommendations on higher education bills having a fiscal impact, and higher education budget items.  Members of the Education Subcommittee for 2016 are Senators  Norment, Newman, Howell, Saslaw, Hanger, and Ruff.

House Education Committee

The House Education Committee is chaired by Delegate Steve Landes and addresses K-12 and higher education policy issues.   The Higher Education Subcommittee members are Jimmie Massie (chairman), Thomas “Tag” Greason, James LeMunyon, Roxann Robinson, Joseph Yost, Glenn Davis, Jennifer McClellan, Mark Keam, and Joseph Lindsey. 

Senate Education and Health Committee 

Senate Education and Health is being chaired by Senator Steve Newman of  Lynchburg. New members are Siobhan Dunnavant, Amanda Chase, and David Suetterlein.  VCCS policy bills frequently are referred to the Higher Education Subcommittee of Senate Education and Health; subcommittee members announced today are Senators Smith, Saslaw, Garrett, Cosgrove, and Petersen.  When the committee held its organizational meeting yesterday, Chairman Newman announced that he will also be forming a new Joint Subcommittee in concert with the House Education Committee, to review legislation that intersects higher education and K-12 education.

Legislation of Interest

Workforce Credentials

HB 792 (James) establishes the framework for implementing the recommended funding contained in Governor McAuliffe’s budget of $24.6 million for the Chancellor’s Workforce Credentials Plan.  The bill  requires the System to approve (i) a plan and funding formula to support capacity building for and development and expansion of noncredit workforce credential programs, (ii) a plan for providing financial incentives to comprehensive community colleges that demonstrate exceptional performance or improvement in the development and expansion of such noncredit workforce credential programs, and (iii) a plan and timeline for assessing the impact of a pilot set of noncredit workforce credentials on short-term and long-term job attainment and wages. Governor McAuliffe’s recommended budget includes $24.6 million to implement the Chancellor’s Workforce Credentials Plan over the biennium.  A companion bill in the Senate is also expected.  The bill has been referred to House Commerce and Labor

Academic Credit for Credentials

HB 793 (James) requires the State Board for Community Colleges to adopt a policy for the award of academic credit to any student enrolled in a comprehensive community college who has successfully completed a third-party industry credential identified as in demand and applicable to the student’s certificate or degree program requirements. VCCS staff are working to ensure that faculty involvement and course alignment with accreditation standards are part of the bill.

JLARC study of the VCCS

Delegate Chris Jones, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, has filed HJ 157, which calls for the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to undertake a comprehensive study of the Virginia Community College System.  The study is to be completed by November 30, 2017. 

College Foundation Access to Bond Markets

SB 313 (Petersen)  has been introduced to allow foundations of Virginia’s public institutions of higher education to utilize the Virginia College Building Authority’s Private College Program to access the tax-exempt bond market.  This would be applicable to both the VFCCE and to individual college’s foundations.'

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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