Posted on Monday, January 20, 2014

This was the first full week of the General Assembly, and committees got down to work and began hearing bills and acting on legislation. It was also the first week of Governor Terry McAuliffe’s administration. The Governor addressed the General Assembly on the evening of January 20 and outlined his ambitious agenda.
Students, administrators, and stakeholders from Blue Ridge, Mountain Empire, Paul D. Camp, Southside Virginia, and the Portsmouth campus of TCC made visits to learn about the priorities of the Virginia Community College System and to meet with legislators this week. Some of the visits and students are highlighted on this week’s blog. Next week,  delegations from ten colleges will be visiting. We look forward to seeing and talking to students from Dabney S. Lancaster, Germanna, Lord Fairfax, the Virginia Beach campus of TCC, John Tyler, New River, Central, the Loudoun campus of NVCC, Virginia Highlands, and Wytheville.
Bill would establish Workforce Development Training Grant Fund
SB 628 (Ruff and Stanley) was introduced by unanimous consent yesterday  to establish the Workforce Development Training Grant Fund, a priority for the VCCS in the 2014 General Assembly session. Senator Ruff has also filed a corresponding budget amendment to fund the program. Both the legislation and the funding would provide $1,000 in state funding to community colleges for every Virginian who successfully completes training and passes the required testing for certification and licensure in high-demand occupations. This proposal is also endorsed by SCHEV and the Virginia Business Higher Education Council, and is a component of the “College, Knowledge, and Jobs” initiative championed by the 2013 Grow By Degrees campaign.
Senate Bills Allowing Undocumented Students to Pay In-State Tuition are in Limbo
SB 249 and SB 327 would allow students who meet certain criteria to access public higher education in Virginia and pay in-state tuition. Both bills were heard on January 16 in the Higher Education Subcommittee of Senate Education and Health. Only four members of the subcommittee were in the room when the vote was taken, and the resulting tie vote of 2-2 means that the bills will go before the full Senate and Education Committee next week without a recommendation.
The bills would allow students to be eligible for in-state tuition if  he or she has (i) attended a public or private high school in the Commonwealth for at least three years; (ii) graduated from a public or private high school in the Commonwealth or has received a General Education Development (GED) certificate in the Commonwealth; (iii) registered as an entering student or are enrolled in a public institution of higher education in the Commonwealth; (iv) provided an I-797 Approval Notice stating approval for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and (v) submitted evidence that he or, in the case of a dependent student, at least one parent, guardian, or person standing in loco parentis has filed, unless exempted by state law, Virginia income tax returns for at least three years prior to the date of enrollment.
Transfer Grant Bills Advance
HB 133 (Cole) was heard in the House Education Committee’s Higher Education Subcommittee on January 14, and was unanimously recommended to be reported to the full House Education Committee. The bill will be on the agenda for the Committee’s January 20 meeting.  HB 133 will allow eligible transfer grant recipients to transfer to a four-year institution either in the fall or spring after they receive their associate degree.  The current method only allows for fall transfer.
SB 429 (Hanger) was heard in the Senate Education and Health Committee’s Higher Education Subcommittee on January 16 and was also recommended for reporting.  This bill would convert the current two-year transfer grant (eligible students receive $1,000; students studying science, teaching, engineering, math or nursing receive an additional $1,000) to a grant which would provide the difference between community college tuition and average public four-year tuition.  It is accompanied by a corresponding Senate budget amendment. 
Budget Amendments
Budget amendments were due on January 10, and staff members of the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee entered them into the legislative information system.  Amendments became available for public viewing yesterday.  House amendments and Senate amendments can be located either by the patron who introduced the amendment, or by item number. 
The House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee have already begun considering these budget amendments; the Senate Finance Capital Outlay subcommittee started to think out loud about parameters and goals for its funding recommendations yesterday morning, and the full Senate Finance Committee held a forum yesterday afternoon for Senators who are not members of the Committee to present their budget amendments.
The House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee report out their respective budget bills on February 16. By February 18, the specific amendments that were approved will be available and public. The House and Senate are scheduled to vote on their respective budgets on February 20. The budget conference report is scheduled to be completed on Tuesday, March 4. 
SVCC President John Cavan Honored in a Resolution
SJ 92 (Lucas) was presented and passed this week in recognition of the service and accomplishments of Southside Virginia Community College’s President John J. Cavan. The resolution commends Dr. Cavan for his vision in providing a wealth of opportunities for students in his service area, his pioneering efforts in offering dual enrollment programs, and his many other successes to prepare students for higher education and careers.  Congratulations, Dr. Cavan!'

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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