GOP-led panel approves top-down charter school imposition and “brochure bills” that pander to base


RICHMOND, VA — This afternoon, the Republican-controlled Senate Committee on Privileges & Elections voted along party lines to report a series of harmful or unnecessary amendments to the state constitution. Notably, Del. Rob Bell’s (R - Charlottesville) HJ 577 would potentially allow the state Board of Education to create charter schools at will anywhere in the Commonwealth, with no need for input or approval from parents, teachers, or local school boards.

In addition, Republicans reported two red meat “brochure bills” that will thrill their Tea Party base — but do nothing to help Virginia families.Del. Dickie Bell’s (R - Staunton) HJ 490 seeks to enshrine Virginia’s right to work laws — many decades old and never seriously challenged — in the state constitution. Del. Chris Head’s (R - Roanoke) SJ 515 would empower the General Assembly to “suspend or nullify” administrative rules and regulations — an ability the body in effect already has.

Said Sen. John Edwards (D - Roanoke), “Every child deserves access to a great education — but that can only happen when parents, teachers, and local school boards work together. The last thing we need is a top-down approach that imposes charter schools against a community’s wishes.”

Said Sen. Donald McEachin (D - Henrico), “With less than two weeks until we adjourn, I am deeply disappointed to see that my Republican colleagues have once again chosen to focus on divisive Tea Party issues that do nothing to help families or small business. We need to be tackling real challenges, not wasting time on non-issues.”



A companion bill to SJ 515 has already failed in the Senate this year (SJ 305). A companion to HJ 577 passed the chamber on a party-line vote (SJ 256). An analogue to HJ 490 narrowly failed in 2013 (SJ 293).


The Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus supports the legislative, political and electoral endeavors of Virginia Democratic senators. The caucus does everything it can to help senators carry out their mission to represent all Virginians and pass legislation that reflects Virginia’s mainstream values.
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