Bell'sTeacher-Contract Bill Remains on Ice

The keystone of Gov. Bob McDonnell's education reform — a bill to phase out open-ended contracts for teachers — seems stalled in the state Senate because of that body's impasse over a budget, the bill's sponsor, Del. Richard P. "Dickie" Bell, R-Staunton, said Tuesday.

"This time of year, it's always about the budget," Bell said, after the Senate decided, for the seventh day running, to skip a scheduled vote on the bill.

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Bell's Bill Stalls Again

RICHMOND — It hasn't been the easiest ride to get to the state Senate, and now that legislation to change teachers' contracts is there, that body isn't in a hurry to act on it.

The senate, preoccupied with controversial measures on voter I.D. and health measures, opted Monday to postpone consideration of the contract bill, sponsored by Del Richard P. "Dickie" Bell, R-Staunton.

The bill already has been heavily edited in the House and has been met with disapproval by teacher advocacy groups, including the Virginia Education Association.

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Bell's Teacher Contract Bill Advances

RICHMOND —A bill that would end continuing contracts for teachers — hotly contested by their union, but a keystone of Gov. Robert F. McDonnell's education reform package — made it over a critical hurdle Thursday.

The bill, sponsored by Del. Richard P. "Dickie" Bell, R-Staunton, was reported out of the state Senate's Education Committee on an 8-7 vote. It moves to the Senate, and has already been approved by the House.

It states teachers hired in the future would have a five-year probationary period, instead of three years. After that, they'd be limited to contracts with three-year terms.

Read More - Bell's Teacher Contract Bill Advances - The News Leader

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Both Sides Agree Castle Doctrine Passed Too Fast

RICHMOND — People on either side of the gun rights debate in Virginia are looking to combat Monday's Senate passage of legislation that says it is OK to use deadly force against an intruder in your home if you feel threatened.

The "Castle Doctrine" bill, sponsored by Del. Richard P. "Dickie" Bell, R-Staunton, goes to Gov. Bob McDonnell after passing the state Senate with a 24-16 vote. It passed the House of Delegates on Feb. 9, with a 70-28 vote.

Both the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a gun rights group, and gun control supporters at the Virginia Center for Public Safety said they'll continue to oppose the bill.

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Bell's Intruder Bill Passes Virginia Senate

RICHMOND — A bill sponsored by Del. Richard P. "Dickie" Bell, R-Staunton, that says it is OK to use force, even deadly force against an intruder into a home if the people living there feel threatened has passed the state Senate.The bill passed on a 24-16 vote.

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Intruder Bill Gets Through Roadblock

A last-minute roadblock sparked some fancy footwork to keep alive Staunton Del. Richard P. "Dickie" Bell's legislation that says it is OK for people to use deadly force against intruders into their homes.

The hurdle: A gun rights group reiterated concern the bill would constrain peoples' right to defend themselves.

The venue: A state Senate committee that passed a similar, but not identical bill, two weeks ago. That bill went on to clear the full Senate with a vote of 23-17.

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Crossover Day Brings Successes, Misses for Area's Legislators

Sometimes, bills die loudly in Virginia's legislature. Sometimes, they just slip away.

That's what happens to bills when a delegate can't get them to the floor of the House, or a state senator to the floor of that chamber by the middle of the session: Crossover Day, which was Tuesday.

So, long-languishing and now dead bills include the proposal by Del. Richard P. "Dickie" Bell, R-Staunton, for zero-based budgeting, an approach he had advocated back in his days on Staunton City Council, which forces officials to start with a clean slate every year, rather than to make their spending plans pegged off the current year's figuring.

 

Read More: Crossover Day Brings Successes, Misses for Area's Legislators - The News Leader

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VA House Approves Teacher Contract Revisions

RICHMOND – After undergoing a dramatic edit last week in committee, Staunton Delegate Richard “Dickie” Bell’s bill to fundamentally change how teachers are hired and evaluated passed the House this morning on a 55-43 vote.

House Bill 576 would replace continuing contracts with annual contracts for teachers and principals. Teachers not eligible for continuing contracts by the 2013-2014 school year would receive three-year contracts that would not automatically renew.

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Lawmakers Seek Programs to Boost Mental Health Care For Youngsters

STAUNTON — Local legislators have thrown their support behind proposed state budget amendments that would fund crisis stabilization projects to help ease the strain on Virginia's only public mental hospital for children, Staunton's Commonwealth Center for Children and Adolescents.

A continuing rise in readmissions to the hospital, mainly because of a lack of help back in the community when children are discharged, has alarmed children's advocates as well as the Valley delegation.

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Poll Finds Strong Support for Drug Testing Welfare Recipients

More than 75 percent of Virginians think welfare recipients should be required to pass a drug test to receive benefits, according to a new poll released this morning.

Overall, voters support testing for public assistance by 76–21 percent with strong support across race, gender, party, income, religious and age groups.

A measure to require the testing was carried over to 2013 by the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday to give lawmakers more time to study the potential costs. A fiscal impact analysis attached to the bill introduced in the House of Delegates estimated the cost of drug screening some recipients at $1.3 million in the first year and $1 million annually after that.

Read More: Poll Finds Strong Support for Drug Testing Welfare Recipients - The News Virginian

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