Peace Bills on Health Care, Tourism, Public Safety and Education Head to Governor for Signature

Four Measures Passed Senate Today with Broad Bi-partisan Support

One Bill was Part of the Opportunity to Learn Governor's Education Reform Agenda

Central Virginia- A number of bills patroned by Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-97th District) passed the Senate today and will now make their way to the Governor for his action.

First, House Bill 765, a part of Governor McDonnell's "Opportunity to Learn" initiative, Phase II, will allow any institution of higher education in Virginia to operate a college partnership laboratory school.  Peace carried the original legislation creating these collaborative partnerships at public colleges and universities in 2010. As in 2010, Del. Jennifer McClellan (D-City of Richmond) served as a co-patron. Del. McClellan attended a lab school at Virginia State University as a young woman.

A College Partnership Laboratory School is a public, nonsectarian, nonreligious school established by a public institution of higher education operating in the Commonwealth which maintains and operates a teacher education program approved by the Board of Education.  Virginia currently has 14 approved sites including but not limited to James Madison University, University of Virginia, Old Dominion University, and George Mason University.

"In 2010, the General Assembly passed legislation, as a part of Governor McDonnell's 'Opportunity to Learn' package, enabling public colleges and universities in Virginia to team with approved teacher-preparation programs in an effort to establish college partnership laboratory schools throughout the Commonwealth.  With this legislation we will see more partnerships between Virginia's higher educational institutions and K-12 public divisions, in turn increasing choices for K-12 students statewide," said Peace.

House Bill 268 is a measure that updates Virginia's existing occupational therapy (OT) scope of practice.  Virginia's OT scope of practice has not been reviewed since its enactment in 1997.  As with most medical professions, much has changed in the past fifteen years.  As a result, the existing OT scope of practice no longer accurately emphasizes the daily priorities for Virginia's practicing OTs.  In fact, some of the existing language has become antiquated.  This causes confusion for practitioners and results in frequent questions posed to the Board of Medicine and to the Virginia Occupational Therapy Association regarding how present day services fit into existing scope language. So in order to assure Virginia's licensed occupational therapists that the modern day services they provide, and upon which their patients depend, are clearly contemplated by Virginia law, the bill proposes a few modest updates which were approved unanimously by the Senate today.  These simple revisions bring Virginia's occupational therapy scope of practice in line with the American Occupational Therapy Association's model language.  To be clear, these changes do not empower any occupational therapist to perform any service for which they are not already licensed.

Next, House Bill 273 which also passed today requires the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) and the Criminal Justice Services Board to provide compulsory minimum entry-level training standards for juvenile correctional officers.  The bill requires the DCJS Board to establish compulsory minimum entry-level, in service, and advance training standards for persons employed as juvenile correctional officers at juvenile correctional centers operated by the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ).

DJJ currently develops, reviews, and provides all training for juvenile correctional officers.  The training requirements, timelines, and curricula are developed and reviewed by DJJ personnel only.  However, the DCJS Board has developed training standards for adult correctional officers, deputy sheriffs, and jail officers. Requiring the DCJS Board to develop training requirements for juvenile correctional officers would be consistent with the other professions in the criminal justice field and will ensure the training provided is the most appropriate and effective.

Also passing today was House Bill 1185, an update to the Road to Revolution State Heritage Trail based upon demand from the state's most significant Revolutionary War era properties and organizations such as Mt. Vernon, Monticello, and Montpelier. In 2007, House Bill 1722 passed and created the Road to Revolution Heritage Trail supported by the historic, economic development and tourism communities. The bill established a heritage trail of sites that pay homage to Patrick Henry's leading role in liberating Virginia from Colonial rule to independence and included the following core sites: St. John's Church at Richmond, Virginia; Scotchtown at Beaverdam, Virginia; Hanover Tavern at Hanover, Virginia; the Hanover County Courthouse at Hanover, Virginia; Historic Polegreen Church at Mechanicsville, Virginia; and Red Hill Plantation at Brookneal, Virginia.

"As a native of Hanover County, I am pleased to see the Trail growing in much the same way as Civil War Trails. With this project we highlight all sites significant to men and women who played a role in liberating Virginia and establishing the United States of America. This tourism joint marketing and economic development effort will benefit the entire Commonwealth. We have a rich heritage and we need to collaborate and find creative opportunities for promoting these valuable resources," stated Peace.

Delegate Christopher K. Peace was elected to his fourth term representing the 97th District of the Virginia House of Delegates.  The District includes parts of Hanover, King William, and all of New Kent County.