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On Friday, Governor Bob McDonnell introduced five pieces of legislation addressing various school safety issues. These are important steps we must take in Virginia to make our schools safer and communities stronger.
Here is a list of Governor McDonnell's school safety legislation:
HB 2343 School Security Infrastructure Improvement Fund and Local School Safety Fund; created.
HB 2344 School safety; threat assessment teams and oversight committees.
HB 2345 School Safety, Va. Center for; development of model critical incident response training program.
HB 2346 Lock-down drills; every public school is required to have at least two practices per year, etc.
HB 2347 Juvenile intake and petition information; threat assessment teams.
RICHMOND, VA -- The Virginia House of Delegates outlined its proposed amendments to the 2012-2014 state budget Sunday. The proposal includes a $95 million deposit in the state's rainy day fund, $45 million in local aid reversion, a pay raise for teachers and school support staff, new funding for school security and funding for 250 Medicaid waiver slots.
"This is a conservative and responsible budget that makes targeted investments in our core areas of need and focuses on our governing priorities: jobs, K-12 and higher education, public safety and health care," said House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford).
House Majority Leader and Appropriations Committee Vice-Chairman M. Kirkland "Kirk" Cox (R-Colonial Heights) said fiscal discipline remains the focus of the committee.
"On the heels of the news that our national economy shrunk in the last quarter of 2012, it's important that we continue to exercise fiscal discipline," said Cox. "We are proposing a $95 million deposit in to the state's rainy day fund, $45 million more than Governor McDonnell called for, to prepare Virginia for any economic challenges that may be looming. In addition, we are focused on making our budget structurally sound for the long term by ending budget gimmicks. This budget proposes $45 million to eliminate local aid reversion and sends that money back to the localities.”
The House budget also includes targeted economic development incentives, including $2.5 million for the creation of a Cyber Accelerator program to attract cyber security companies to Virginia and increases the angel investor tax credit cap by $500,000.
"Job creation and economic development continue to be our top priority," said Delegate Steve Landes (R-Augusta), Chairman of the House Appropriations Economic Development Subcommittee. "In the past three years, we have invested over $100 million in concentrated economic development and watched our unemployment rate drop to 5.5 percent. But we know there is more work to do. Funding the Cyber Accelerator and expanding the angel investor tax credit are just two examples of our efforts to continue to create a good climate for job creation here in the Commonwealth."
The House budget expands on Governor Bob McDonnell's proposal to fund a two percent pay raise for Virginia's teachers and also includes funding for school support staff, for a total of $62 million. The House budget also provides $12 million for higher education enrollment growth and $3.7 million to increase TAG grants from $2,800 to $3,100 per student.
"We want to reward and recognize our teachers because the selfless work they do is critical to the education of our young people. Educating our young people is critical to Virginia's long-term economic development. As they grow older, we want to make sure all of our students have the opportunity to attend a Virginia college or university. Expanded funding to encourage enrollment growth and TAG grants are two important parts of achieving that goal," said Delegate Bob Tata (R-Virginia Beach), Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on K-12 Education.
House Republicans announced on Friday the budget would include $31 million for school and public safety, including $1.7 million for school resource officers and $30 million for security improvements in Virginia schools.
"The $31 million we have proposed will help ensure that our public schools continue to be safe and se-cure places where students can learn and succeed,” said Delegate Beverly Sherwood (R-Frederick). “Working together, we can provide the tools for school resource officers, school security officers and infrastructure improvements necessary to ensuring that Virginia remains one of the best places to raise a child for years to come.”
The House budget includes funding for 250 Medicaid waiver slots, including 200 Intellectual Disability slots and 50 Development Disability slots, said Delegate Riley Ingram.
"The House budget includes $7.7 million in funding for ID and DD Medicaid waiver slots. Protecting the health care safety net for less fortunate Virginians is absolutely critical. This budget will mean 250 fewer Virginia families waiting for Medicaid waivers," said Ingram.
The House of Delegates is expected to vote on its budget proposal on Thursday.
Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates proposed $31 million in new funding for school security Friday, including $1.7 million for the existing School Resource Officer Grant Initiative and $30 million to create a revolving fund to provide for security infrastructure projects in schools throughout the Commonwealth. The $1.7 million appropriation for school resource officers would be the largest single appropriation in the history of the program. The announcements were made by Delegate Beverly J. Sherwood (R-Frederick) on the floor of the House of Delegates.
“The measures we are recommending today will help ensure that our public schools continue to be safe and se-cure places where students can learn and succeed,” said Delegate Sherwood. “Working together, we can provide the tools for school resource officers, school security officers and infrastructure improvements necessary to en¬suring that Virginia remains one of the best places to raise a child for years to come.”
When the House Budget proposal is unveiled Sunday, it will include $1.7 million for the School Resource Officer Grant Initiative. House Republicans plan to add $1.3 million to the existing $400,000 appropriation, bringing the total appropriation for the program to $1.7 million. The budget will also include the creation of a $30 million revolving grant program consisting of $6 million annually over five years. This program will pro¬vide competitive grants of up to $100,000 per year to school divisions for security infrastructure improvements.
“The tragedy that happened last year in Newtown, Connecticut has prompted us to look closely at the safety of our schools and communities and to make improvements where we see shortfalls,” said House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford). “Additional funding to hire school resource officers and additional funding to cover the costs of security improvements are responsible and reasonable steps we can take to make our communities safer and stronger.”
“As a retired high school history teacher with 30 years of classroom experience, I believe strongly that class-rooms are a place for developing a love for learning, not violence,” said House Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights). “In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook, we are committed to improving school safety in a meaningful and responsible way. The proposals we have outlined today will do make our classrooms and schools safer.
Additional funding for the School Resource Officer Initiative was also a recommendation of Governor Bob McDonnell’s task force on school safety. The House of Delegates will consider Governor McDonnell’s final recommendations once they have been made.
Today, the House of Delegates voted to pass House Bill 1617, a piece of legislation I patroned that protects the freedom of association for individuals, organizations and clubs on Virginia’s college campuses. This bill will prevent organizations that want to have selective membership – like the college Democrats or college Republicans – from being required to admit members who don’t share their beliefs.
Right now, some Virginia colleges and universities operate under “all comers” policies that require organizations to admit any applicant and even allows those applicants to seek leadership positions. Under this policy, I could have been President of my schools’ college Democrats organization. It also means a Christian organization is required to admit those who don’t share their faith or that an atheist student group is required to admit a practicing Christian.
This bill would protect those organizations and their freedom to associate. This is a common sense measure that achieved bipartisan support and is about protecting a fundamentally American principle.
The Virginia House of Delegates passed legislation Tuesday to protect the secret ballot in union elections and protect employers from being required to give employee information like cell phone numbers, e-mail addresses and shift times to third parties. House Bills 1385 and 1931 were carried by Delegate Barbara Comstock.
“These are common-sense measures to protect workers’ rights and privacy,” said Comstock. “The secret ballot is fundamental to our Democracy and no worker should have that right threatened. House bill 1385 will protect the right to a secret ballot in union elections and ensure that employees can make decisions on union organization without fear of retribution, retaliation or harassment.
“House Bill 1931 creates privacy protections for employee data like cell phone numbers, e-mail addresses and shift times so employers cannot be compelled to give that information to third parties. This is a common-sense approach to ensuring workers are protected.
“I am pleased these measures passed the House and urge my colleagues in the Senate to support this legislation.”
House Bill 1385, which protects the right to a secret ballot in union elections, passed 69 to 30. House Bill 1931, which creates protections for employee privacy, passed 67 to 32.
Delegate Comstock represents the 34th House of Delegates district which includes Great Falls, parts of McLean, Vienna, and Loudoun.