A Republican-led committee has again killed the “Tebow bill.”
The Virginia House of Delegates Education Committee, with 12 Republicans and 10 Democrats, voted Wednesday not to report to the full House a bill from Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, that would allow homeschooled students to compete in public school sports. The bill, which died last year in the same committee, had been approved in the committee in previous years.
Del. Gordon Helsel, R-Poquoson, was the lone Republican to vote against the bill — like he did last year, citing input from his local school districts.
The issue was made famous by Tim Tebow, the former University of Florida star quarterback who went on to play in the NFL before his attempt at professional baseball. Tebow was allowed to play high school football in Florida while being home-schooled.
When Republicans had firm control in the General Assembly, the bill cruised through the legislature before then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, vetoed the measure. Now in the second session of slight GOP majority in the House, the bill has failed twice. Republicans hold 51 seats to Democrats’ 48, pending the outcome of a Feb. 19 special election.
Deputy Secretary of Education Holly Coy said Wednesday that Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration opposes the bill. The main education lobbyists, including the Virginia Education Association, the Virginia School Boards Association and the Virginia Association of School Superintendents, also oppose the measure.
“This forces the hand of local school districts — it isn’t local control,” said Kathy Burcher, the Virginia Education Association’s government relations director.
The Virginia High School League also raised objections to the bill, saying it could take roster spots away from public school students.
Here are updates on the other bills the committee weighed Wednesday:
Start of the school year
The same committee punted — for now — on deciding when schools should start in Virginia.
The committee was set Wednesday to weigh a bill that would revoke the Kings Dominion Law, which requires school districts to open after Labor Day. Currently, school districts can obtain waivers from the state to start school before Labor Day.
Most of the districts that get waivers are in the western part of the state.
The bill from Del. Roxann Robinson, R-Chesterfield, would make districts have a five-day Labor Day weekend, either from Thursday through the Monday of Labor Day or Friday through Tuesday. Her bill last year on the same issue cleared the House before dying in a Senate committee.
Lobbyists objected to an amendment that would have eliminated the waiver process altogether, asking Robinson to go back to the drawing board.
A bill to require public comment at colleges before a tuition increase unanimously cleared the committee.
House Bill 2173 from Del. Jason Miyares, R-Virginia Beach, will now be taken up by the full House of Delegates. A similar bill is still alive in the Senate.
The bills say colleges must give an opportunity for the public, including students, to speak before the college’s governing board votes on a tuition and fees increase.
DACA effort advances
Another effort is moving forward to grant in-state tuition to recipients of a federal program that shields the children of undocumented immigrants from deportation.
House Bill 2388 from Del. Alfonso Lopez, D-Arlington, would give in-state tuition rates to recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. A similar bill cleared a Senate committee last week.
Both bills are now being taken up by the money committees, with Lopez’s bill heading for the House Appropriations Committee.
Dels. Steve Landes, R-Augusta; Mark Cole, R-Spotsylvania; Jay Leftwich, R-Chesapeake; and Dave LaRock, R-Loudon, were the lone votes against the bill.