At the Statehouse 3/13/2022

Saturday, March 12 was the last day of the 60-day 2022 General Assembly. However, the legislature had not completed their work so there may be a need for a special session. In addition to dozens of bills left unresolved, the budget has not been passed. Here is a description of the status of each high-profile education bill and the K12 education issues left unresolved in the Budget.


High profile education bills that were defeated in the Senate include the "divisive concept" ban (HB 787), the bill repealing protections for trans students (HB 988 / SB 20), the bill that limited sports based on “biological sex” (SB 766), and the Charter School bill (SB 125).


The Governor’s School Admissions bill (HB127) passed with substitutions from both chambers that effectively weakened the bill and suggests its passage was only symbolic. Still, the bill can be amended by the Governor. Other bills ready for the Governor’s signature but remaining subject to amendments by the Governor include the bill on parental notification of certain books (SB 656) and the Math curriculum bill (HB 938).


Bills in conference include the bill that would make changes to the standards of quality (SB490) and the two Lab School bills (HB346 and SB598). Both versions of the Lab School bills allow conversion of existing schools and in the Senate version there are blocks for-profit colleges & 3rd-party management. These bills also are subject to amendments from the Governor.


The only education bill that has been signed by the Governor includes the bill on in-person instruction and masks (SB739).


The budget has not yet been resolved. The House proposes funding for items that were not included in either Governor Northam’s budget nor the Senate version, including funding for Lab Schools , an increased number of Principal and assistant Principal personnel , a greater allocation to schools from the lottery PPA, and dramatically less funding to early childhood education (< 1/7 of that in Northam and Senate versions) , and maintaining current staffing levels for teachers of English Language when Governor Northam’s and the Senate budget call for funding increases.


The main sticking point in the budget is Governor Youngkin’s effort to double the standard deduction on personal income taxes and to eliminate the state’s tax on groceries. Although the House with a GOP majority passed a version of the budget with these changes; the Democratic-controlled Senate wants to study the standard deduction issue for a year because of its long-term impact on revenue. Although the Senate agreed to eliminate the part of the grocery tax levied by the state. It left a 1 percent levy that goes to localities untouched. This 1 percent is important to the funding of K12 public schools.


Because the budget and some of the bills are not yet resolved, grassroots activism may still be needed in April.


UPDATE: A reconvened Session is scheduled for April 27, 2022.