by James C. Sherlock
As bills affecting education, educational institutions or health get filed and make their way, or not, through the General Assembly in 2021, I will occasionally make note of them here. I will certainly not list them all, but will highlight the ones of interest to me and I hope to our readers.
Education and Educational Institutions
As of this afternoon, these are the education bills I find interesting. There are no bills yet filed under the heading educational institutions.
Del. Terry L. Austin, R-Buchanan, has introduced two bills to ensure professionalism and regional representation within the Board of Education (not a minute too soon).
- The first is HB 1826 Education, Board of; qualifications of members. Requires the nine-member Board of Education to include at least one member with experience or expertise in local government leadership or policymaking, at least one member with experience or expertise in career and technical education, and at least one member with experience or expertise in early childhood education, all of whom are appointed by the governor. My take: good idea. Not sure that special education should not be added. It is a bigger deal than the other specified qualifications.
- The second is HB 1827 Education, Board of; geographic representation of members. Requires the nine-member Board of Education to include at least five members, appointed by the governor, who each reside in different superintendent’s regions in the Commonwealth. My take: good idea long overdue.
Sen.William M. Stanley, Jr., R-Glade Hill, has again submitted his annual bills to rehabilitate school buildings. These are SB 1106 Public School Assistance Fund and Program; created. Creates a fund to repair or replace roofs. And SB 1109 Voter referendum; issuance of state general obligation bonds for school facility modernization. My take: good ideas long overdue.
Stanley and Del. G. “John” Avoli, R-Staunton, have sponsored SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 275, proposing amendments to Section 1 and Section 2 of Article VIII of the Constitution of Virginia, relating to public schools of the Commonwealth; equal educational opportunities.
Amend Section 1 and Section 2 of Article VIII of the Constitution of Virginia as follows: ARTICLE VIII EDUCATION
Section 1. Public schools of high quality to be maintained.
The General Assembly shall provide for a system of free public elementary and secondary schools with equal educational opportunities for all children of school age throughout the Commonwealth, and shall seek to ensure that an educational program of high quality is established and continually maintained.
Section 2. Standards of quality; State and local support of public schools.
Standards of quality for the several school divisions shall be determined and prescribed from time to time by the Board of Education, subject to revision only by the General Assembly.
The General Assembly shall determine the manner in which funds are to be provided for the cost of maintaining an educational program meeting the prescribed standards of quality, shall ensure that all children of school age are provided with equal educational opportunities, and shall provide for the apportionment of the cost of such program between the Commonwealth and the local units of government comprising such school divisions. Each unit of local government shall provide its portion of such cost by local taxes or from other available funds.
- The words “high quality education” already in the Virginia constitution are sufficient for Virginia’s attorney general to sue the governor, the Board of Education and Virginia’s worst school districts for failure to provide such an education where testing shows consistent failures, and that hasn’t happened. So. I am not sure the offered change will have any practical effect at the constitutional officer level.
- The Board of Education is already in full flight to provide equal outcomes, so I am not sure they will even notice the change.
- As for the legal profession, the words “equal opportunities” will certainly mean different things to different people. The change will launch a thousand lawsuits. So will failing to make the change.
Stanley also filed SB 1107 Medical malpractice; limitation on recovery. It eliminates the cap on the recovery in actions against health care providers for medical malpractice. My take: last thing the medical profession needs; but it also reminds that the health professions need to do a better job of policing themselves. As for Stanley, a practicing attorney, introducing it, I’ll leave it to his constituents to judge.
Sen. Mamie E. Locke. D-Hampton, filed SB 1138 Sexually transmitted infections; infected sexual battery; repeal. Repeals the crime of infected sexual battery. The bill also repeals the crime of donating or selling blood, body fluids, organs, and tissues by persons infected with human immunodeficiency virus and the provisions regarding the testing of certain persons for human immunodeficiency virus or hepatitis B or C viruses. My take: unprintable.
Sen. Mark J. Peake, R-Lynchburg, filed SB 1116 State Health Commissioner; powers during an epidemic, vaccinations, religious tenets or practices.
SUMMARY AS INTRODUCED:
Allows a parent or guardian to object to the vaccination or immunization of a child on the grounds that the administration of immunizing agents conflicts with his religious tenets or practices, even if an emergency or epidemic of disease has been declared by the State Board of Health, which is not allowed under current law.
The bill also provides that nothing shall preclude the State Health Commissioner from requiring immediate immunization of all persons in the case of an epidemic of any disease of public health importance for which a vaccine exists other than a person, including a parent or guardian on behalf of a child, who objects on the grounds that the administration of the vaccine conflicts with his religious tenets or practices.
Under current law, the only exception to the Commissioner’s power to require immediate immunization of all persons in case of an epidemic of any disease of public health importance for which a vaccine exists is for a person to whose health the administration of a vaccine would be detrimental as certified in writing by a physician licensed to practice medicine in the Commonwealth.
My take: This bill is intended to bring this law in line with the sponsor’s interpretation of existing religious protections in the constitutions of both the United States and the Commonwealth. Opponents will be concerned that the practical effects might prevent herd immunity because all vaccination opponents will claim religious objections. If the bill is not passed (prediction – it won’t be) we will see this issue in court. Perhaps that is the place for it.There are currently no comments highlighted.