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VA Senate Panel To Vote Feb. 24 On Several School-Related Bills

So far in this General Assembly session, crucial bills have passed to end school mask mandates and ensure in-person learning. However, several more key education-related bills have passed the GOP-controlled House of Delegates and now face votes in a Democrat-controlled senate Health and Education subcommittee.

Since the 40-member state senate has a narrow 21-19 Democrat majority, each committee and subcommittee of that body has a Democrat majority.

The highest member of the Senate Democrats, Sen. Louise Lucas of Portsmouth, has pledged publicly to try to stop legislation from the GOP-led House of Delegates and Gov. Youngkin. In addition, according to the Virginia Mercury and WWBT in Richmond, Sen. Lucas has also been accused of selling marijuana-related products that are illegal to market in Virginia, including items with mislabeled products or packaging designed to appeal to children. Lucas’ office was requested for a statement on her position, and also why she has not recused herself from voting on bills that relate to marijuana sales, due to financial conflict of interest. However, no response from her office has been received.

Among the education- and parental-rights bills to be voted on tomorrow in the Health and Education subcommittee include the following:

House Bill (HB) 787 prohibits any public school employee from training or instructing children to believe the core tenets of “Critical Race Theory.”

HB 789  requires schools to obtain written parental permission before a student can participate in Family Life Education (sex education).

HB 1034 requires the Department of Education to develop guidelines for local school districts to follow that address parental consent to and involvement in any school counseling that is provided to their child.

HB 1024 establishes Parental Choice Education Savings Accounts (ESA) that allow parents of students with a learning disability, or who have been the victim of bullying, or whose family income is less than 3 times the federal poverty level, to use the state funds appropriated for their child to pay for an education at a private elementary school or secondary school that better meets their child’s needs.

The current Virginia senate will face newly-drawn lines due to recent redistricting, with their next elections in 2023. State Senate terms last four years.

–Scott Dreyer

 

 

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