Posted on Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Despite the record snowfall, college presidents and their supporting business and industry delegations came to Richmond this week to visit with legislators and explain the importance of funding and legislation to support workforce credentials delivered through the Virginia Community College System.  The time and effort spent to make these contacts and advocate for our workforce credentials plan are making an impact!

Career Pathways Bill for Adult Education Advances

SB 245 (Stanley) passed the Senate on first reading today.  The bill was reported out of the Higher Education Subcommittee of Senate Education and  Health on January 26, and out of the full committee on January 28.  SB 245 will codify partnerships between community colleges and adult education programs for development of career pathways for adult education students.  At the present time, there are 7500 students enrolled in Adult Basic Education programs at the VCCS, either through the “Plugged in Virginia” model or in Middle College programs.  SB 245  will strengthen regional collaboration and programming and provide support for the VCCS’s career pathways model. 

Prior to being heard in subcommittee, VCCS staff worked with Senator Stanley on amendments to clarify the intent of the bill, which were incorporated.

Academic Credit for Third-Party Industry Credentials Passes Senate on First Reading

 SB 609  also passed the Senate on first reading today.  SB 609  was reported out of the Higher Education Subcommittee of Senate Education and Health on January 26 and from the full committee on January 28.  SB 609 calls for the State Board to adopt a policy for the award of academic credit to any student who is enrolled in a community college who has successfully completed a third-party industry credential which has been identified as in-demand and applicable to the student’s certificate or degree program requirements.  The Virginia Board for Workforce Development and local business and industry leaders will be in charge of identifying in-demand, third-party credentials for each community college region, and the State Board will be tasked with publishing the credentials on the VCCS website.  SB 609 (Alexander) is identical to HB 793 (James); these bills are a priority for the McAuliffe administration and Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones and Secretary of Education Anne Holton were at the subcommittee meeting to support the bills. It is envisioned that a faculty team with representatives from all of the colleges will be convened to ensure that accreditation standards are met, prior to implementation.

Bill Revoking Current Policy on Concealed Weapons Moves Forward

The State Board in January 2013 adopted a policy prohibiting the possession of weapons, including guns, in all VCCS campus buildings and events.  The policy makes a provision that individuals with a concealed carry permit may store their weapons in their vehicles while on campus.

This morning, HB 382 passed out of the Militia, Police and  Public Safety Subcommittee on a 15-7 vote.   HB 382  prohibits state agencies within the executive branch and boards of visitors or other governing bodies of public institutions of higher education from adopting any rule or regulation preventing officers or employees from storing a lawfully possessed firearm and ammunition in a locked private motor vehicle at their workplace. The bill also stipulates that any regulation or rule adopted prior to July 1, 2016, is invalid.

More Action Expected In Next Two Weeks

Decisions on many bills have been delayed during the first full two weeks of the session.  As we get closer to the “crossover” deadline of February 16, more and more bills will have to be acted on.  Stay tuned. . .'

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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