State Sen. Bill Stanley is continuing his fight for the New College Institute in Martinsville, with four of his initiatives centered around education.
Senate Bill (SB) 62, would require NCI to design and implement any workforce development programs necessary to support the initiatives of the Office of the Governor, including adult education and workforce training programs. The proposal also requires the NCI to collaborate with the Department of Education, the Virginia Community College System, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, the Virginia Board of Workforce Development, and other relevant agencies and organizations.
The General Assembly convened its 60-day session on Wednesday, with local legislators in the minority of the new Democratic majority that has emerged in both the House and the Senate after the November elections.
Stanley, R-Moneta, also is chairman of the NCI Board of Directors, in December learned that while Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposed budget provided nearly $4.7 million in funding for NCI in 2025, it included no funds in 2026.
Stanley has filed a total of 11 proposals for consideration, including SB 5, which would establish a Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Computing (STEM+C) Competition Team Grant Program and Fund to encourage interest in STEM+C-related subject areas and support STEM+C-related extracurricular team-building activities in public schools in the Commonwealth by providing grants to qualified schools, as defined in the bill, for use in establishing or supporting STEM+C competition teams.
Another of Stanley’s proposals, SB27, would establish the Public School Trades Incentive Fund and the Public School Trades Incentive Program to provide grants on a competitive basis to any school board that seeks to restore high school programs that teach students skilled trades that lead to earning industry-recognized certifications or credentials or create or restore middle school programs that encourage and recruit students to participate in high school programs that teach students skilled trades that lead to earning industry-recognized certifications or credentials.
The Department of Education would be tasked with administering the program and establishing rules and procedures relating to applications and awards as it deems appropriate, provided that it considers and gives appropriate weight to certain criteria for grantees. The bill permits any grantee to use program funds for equipment, curriculum development, or instructor training.
The proposal also requires each grantee to track students who complete any program for which the school board received funds to determine the effectiveness of the new or restored middle school programs in recruiting students to participate in restored high school programs and restored high school programs in matching students with high-paying jobs in the fields in which they are certified or credentialed.
SB28 would permit each school board to develop and implement a policy to prohibit the possession or use of cell phones and other handheld communication devices during regular school hours.
Del. Wren Williams, R-Stuart, filed six proposals, including House Bill (HB) 443, which would provide local governments with standardized public notice requirements for certain meetings, hearings, or intended actions. Additionally, it would standardize the frequency with which and length of time in which notices of certain meetings, hearings, and other intended actions of localities must be published.
The notice provisions included in the bill are organized into three groups: publication required at least seven days before a meeting, hearing, or intended action; publication required twice, with the first notice appearing no more than 28 days before and the second notice appearing no less than seven days before a meeting, hearing, or intended action; and publication required three times, with the first notice appearing no more than 35 days before and the third notice appearing no less than seven days before the meeting, hearing, or intended action.
The bill also standardizes descriptive information in such notices related to proposing, amending, or repealing ordinances; adoption of local budget; and zoning ordinances and planning-related actions.
Another of Williams’ proposals, HB445, would require the State Corporation Commission to review and approve premium rates applicable to dental plans issued in Virginia. Under the bill, benefits are deemed to be reasonable in relation to premiums, provided that the medical loss ratio of the policy form, including riders and endorsements, is at least as great as 85 percent.
The bill provides that if the commission finds that the premium rate filed is not meeting or will not meet a medical loss ratio of 85 percent, the commission would require appropriate rate adjustments, premium refunds, or premium credits as deemed necessary for the coverage to conform with the medical loss ratio standard of 85 percent.
Del. Eric Phillips, newly elected to represent the 48th District, won a special election on January 9 – one day before the session began. He has filed no proposals.