House Republicans file first bills of 2018 General Assembly Session

House Republicans filed the first three bills for the 2018 General Assembly Session on Monday, advancing practical solutions to everyday issues. These bills will protect student privacy, make it easier to find and hire new teachers, and help high school students who participate in dual enrollment programs.

“The House Republican Caucus is unified and committed to advancing policies that help people in practical ways with the problems that matter most to them,” said Speaker-designee Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights). “The legislation filed today is just an early glimpse at the type of common sense approach we will take this session. We are committed to working across the aisle where we can, and these three bills are good examples of that.”

House Bill 1 will protect sensitive data, such as the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and dates of birth, of students enrolled in Virginia public colleges and universities from being released through a Freedom of Information Act request. Media outlets across Virginia this fall brought to light a shady practice being used by some political campaigns to target students by accessing their personal contact information without their knowledge. With the passing of HB1, students must provide consent before their personal information can be shared with any outside individual or group.

“When students and parents provide colleges and universities with their personal information, they should not have to worry that that information will be made public and used inappropriately,” said Delegate Tony Wilt (R-Rockingham), who introduced the legislation after pledging to do so earlier this fall. “In the past, political activist groups and campaigns were accessing this data, unbeknownst to students or their parents. This bill will put a stop to that by giving students and parents direct control over how their personal information is used.”

House Bill 2 will allow a spouse of any member of the armed forces who has a valid out-of-state teaching license to enjoy licensure reciprocity in Virginia. This means that an individual who is currently a licensed teacher in another state and married to a member of the military could seamlessly transition into a Virginia classroom if their family is transferred to Virginia.

“The Commonwealth has one of the largest military populations in the country and also faces a significant teacher shortage,” said Delegate Dickie Bell (R-Staunton), a teacher, veteran, and the patron of HB2. “This legislation is a common sense proposal that will strengthen our commitment to being the most veteran friendly state in the country, while also removing obstacles for licensed, qualified, experienced teachers to get a job here as soon as possible. This will make it easier for our local school leaders to find and hire qualified teachers in our public schools.”

House Bill 3 will require the State Council of Higher Education (SCHEV) to establish quality standards for dual enrollment courses, including standards for instructors, materials, and content. Courses that meet or exceed these quality standards will be certified as “Universal Transfer Courses” and satisfy course credit at any public institution of higher education. This legislation will save students time and money by ensuring dual enrollment programs are working as intended by allowing students to earn college credits while in high school and apply those credits to a 2-year or 4-year degree.

“Too many high school students are working hard and spending extra money for dual enrollment courses, only to get accepted to a two- or four-year institution and find out their dual enrollment courses will not transfer,” said House Education Committee Chairman R. Steven Landes (R-Augusta), who will carry House Bill 3. “This bill sets a clear policy on dual enrollment, eliminating confusion and making sure our kids can start their higher education learning with credits they earned in high school.”

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