Saturday, February 04, 2012
Editorial: Saturday shorts
From the RoundTable blog
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Another unnecessary, unfunded state mandate
Not that we'd want to add another layer of bureaucracy or impose yet another mandate on existing departments, but wouldn't it be interesting to require some agency to tabulate the success of every bill passed by the General Assembly in doing what lawmakers intended? Say, check its progress in 18months, then again in five years. And, for good measure, see how much it's really costing versus initial estimates.
That's essentially what the House of Delegates wants to do with each student who graduates from a public or nonprofit private college or university in Virginia. Delegates overwhelmingly endorsed H.B.639 that mandates the State Council of Higher Education publish annually on its website, starting Aug.1, 2013, the success of graduates in finding employment 18months and five years post graduation. Also, SCHEV is to report on average salaries by major, degree and institution, along with average college loan debt, at least for those who stayed in Virginia, aren't self-employed or who haven't taken a break from the workforce to care for family.
All this compiling and merging of data from schools and the state Department of Education and Virginia Employment Commission carries a hefty price tag. This does not concern delegates because, ta-da, Virginia won't pay for it. The federal government will, thanks to a $17.5million grant. SCHEV already has the grant and is already compiling the data — all without a mandate. But don't let that stop delegates.
Rough ride in Senate for King's Dominion law
During last year's round of redistricting, the 23rd Senate District, represented by Lynchburg Sen.Steve Newman, was stretched toward Roanoke. He now represents school systems that share programs with Salem and Roanoke schools. So he might want to understand better the dynamics at play before he is called upon again as a member of the Senate's Education and Health Committee to vote to repeal the King's Dominion Law.
Newman was among the majority in an 8-6 vote to keep school systems from developing calendars that best reflect the needs of their students and communities rather than solely those of the tourism industry. The House of Delegates, though, has passed the repeal bill, so it's heading to the Senate and back to Newman's committee. It could use his help.
Nearly every school system supports repeal, though not all would start school before Labor Day even if permitted. But they ought to have the flexibility to decide. The bill needs a champion to make it out of committee. Newman should use his influence.
The last bastion of open bicycle hostility
Bicyclists drive good, gasoline-loving Virginians crazy when they take up space on roads meant for cars and trucks, not pedals.
Members of the House of Delegates understand. A House subcommittee last week killed a bill (H.B. 785) that would have forbidden drivers from tailgating bicyclists.
Virginia's tailgating law applies only when someone driving a motor vehicle follows another motor vehicle "more closely than is reasonable and prudent." Sometimes laying on the horn and flashing the brights isn't enough to let bikers know they need to get out of the way.
Risk remains, though. The Senate passed an identical bill (S.B. 264), and it is alive in the House. Only 12 senators, including our region's Sen. Bill Stanley, were brave enough to oppose the bicycle lobby's helmeted, tight-shorted minions.
The House bill's sponsor, Del. Alfonso Lopez, D-Arlington County, noted that it is illegal to tailgate bikes in every other state. Virginians can take pride that the commonwealth treads bold legal ground by empowering motorists to drive like jerks and put bikers in danger.