For 234 years, the American form of government has helped to make the United States of America the greatest nation the world has seen. Our founding fathers established the legislative bodies and the appropriate rules for those bodies because they saw it as the best way to represent the people.
These legislative bodies and rules were not founded to appease any particular political party. When legislative members use these rules to further political agendas, it is a detriment to the legislative system and can negatively affect the representation of its citizens.
As Thomas Jefferson once said, "I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."
On a lighter note, I am happy to report two bills have completed legislation and are awaiting the governor's approval. Senate Bill 391 was passed by the House last week. This bill requires that any candidate for membership or member-elect on a county board of education shall be a citizen and resident of the county in which they seek to serve on the board. Also, House Bill 4037 was passed by the Senate this week. This bill would authorize certain bond issuers to receive credit payments with respect to federal subsidy bonds. It also clarifies that these bonds, per the West Virginia code, are exempt from taxation.
I am happy to report that House Bill 4436, of which I am chief sponsor, is out of committee and should be up for vote this week. This bill would provide discretion to schools that make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) to use assessments and adopt instructional strategies and programs that promote student learning. It also allows the faculty senates, with approval of the principal, to establish a process for teacher collaboration to improve instruction and learning. Additionally, the state board is required to annually publish and make the optional resources available to the school curriculum teams. Teacher collaboration process and the failure of a school to use the optional assessments published by the state board may not be cited as a deficiency in accreditation reviews or in the personnel evaluation of the principal.
Currently, the problem is that the Office of Education Performance Audits (OEPA) reprimands schools that do not implement all of the non-required state educational programs such as Writing Roadmaps and techSTEPS. The purpose of this bill is to allow schools that make AYP the option to choose which non-required programs they would like to use.
Along with the help of my fellow legislators from Preston County, we continuously made pleas last week for help with snow removal in our counties. We are aware of the crisis level in Preston and Tucker counties and are doing everything in our power to ensure that Preston and Tucker get the assistance they need. I would like to thank our National Guard troops for their assistance. It was nice to see our children get back to the school room last week even if only for a short time. If any of you are in need of a medical transport, heating oil or other life-saving necessities, please do not hesitate to call 911 for assistance.
If you would like to follow the progress of any of the bills this session and the daily action of the Legislature, visit the 79th Legislature on the Web at www.legis.state.wv.us/. Additionally, streaming audio of all committee meetings and floor sessions can be heard by following the links on the Legislature's homepage.
I realize that the inclement weather, especially in Preston and Tucker counties, has brought most of the state to a standstill and has made driving hazardous. However, we continue to press onward at the state Capitol. If you are unable to venture to my office, you can reach me by calling 304-340-3146, by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or at my office address, Room 204E, Building 1 State Capitol Complex Charleston, W.Va. 25305.