Bills, bills, bills of 2020Published:January 27, 2020
The latest session of the West Virginia Legislature is on and while education does not appear to be prominently featured in 2020, a number of bills exist which we should mention. The following includes thoughts on the bills where we know our stance. This does not mean we have examined every bill in the pipeline yet. If you have ideas or thoughts on bills in the forthcoming session, or simply want more information, please contact us and we will find the information you need.
Bills we support
HB 2039 — This bill would require every school to have a library / media specialist. We believe this is essential to foster a love of reading and knowledge in our students, particularly within elementary schools. Currently, elementary schools share librarians or must find parent volunteers to operate these facilities.
HB 2370 — A change to state law which would exempt teachers from paying state income tax. In lieu of a raise, this provides teachers a break and would act as a draw for teachers from other locales.
HB 2606 — This would change current education law to require 30 minutes of unstructured play time for children from kindergarten to grade five. Research demonstrates that children benefit from recess and unstructured play.
HB 2794 — Known as the West Virginia Feed to Achieve Act, this legislation would encourage each county to develop a summer feeding program. Children in every county need food during the summer when schools are not in session. Counties would only be required to compile data about students in need and make appropriate recommendations.
SB 247 — This bill would provide an annual bonus to any educational service personnel who do not use more than four sick days each year. This legislation should already be in place. In 2019, however, the Senate stalled this last year in an attempt to drive a wedge between professional and service personnel.
Bills we do not support
HB 2002 — Similar to last year, this bill attempts to establish educational savings accounts (ESAs) in the Mountain State. ESAs allow parents to receive funds for educational purposes if their children do not attend public school. We cannot support a bill that uses state resources to provide for a alternative service when the state already provides education. If an individual chooses not to utilize a state provided service, they cannot ask for a subsidy.
HB 3118 — This potential law would require annual drug testing for all teachers. We will not support a bill that violates the Constitutional rights of educators. Teachers have done nothing to arouse suspicion that they might be on drugs. This particular bill also claims the Legislature “finds and declares” that teachers have a reduced expectation to privacy. We wholeheartedly disagree. Furthermore, the cost of such drug testing would be a ridiculous financial burden for the state to bear.
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