WV approves Hope Scholarship funds for microschools

A state lawmaker says he desires to roll again a invoice he sponsored final 12 months to defend some jail data from scrutiny. Additionally, there’s a proposal shifting ahead within the Home that may prolong a pandemic-era change to assist youngster care suppliers. However first, lawmakers met immediately and authorised an company rule that may permit Hope Scholarship funds for use by college students attending largely-unregulated microschools.

Lawmakers prolong Hope Scholarship to microschools

The Legislative Rule-making Evaluation Committee quietly authorised a Treasurer’s Workplace rule permitting Hope Scholarship funds to go in direction of controversial microschool tuition this morning.

After the rule was introduced by counsel, no member of the joint committee talked about or requested questions concerning the current inclusion of micro-school tuition as a licensed expense for Hope Scholarship recipients, although the addition was solely provided in an emergency modification filed by the Treasurer’s workplace earlier this month.

Microschools had been outlined in regulation by the Legislature final 12 months; they’re largely unregulated instructional amenities that function one thing between homeschooling and personal faculty. Regardless of the identify, a theoretically limitless variety of college students can attend one.

One of many scholarship’s most vocal champions and a member of the Rule-Making Evaluation Committee, Sen. Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson, mentioned it was all the time the intention of the Hope regulation to permit college students to take part in new types of various training as they emerge.

The transfer might imply extra college students will grow to be eligible for Hope Scholarship funds, as any scholar presently attending a microschool can comply with directions on a Treasurer’s workplace web site to enroll in public faculty for 45 days earlier than transferring out and turning into eligible. —Ian Karbal

Go deeper: West Virginia officers suggest sending public funds to largely unregulated microschools by way of Hope Scholarship

Senate chief guarantees to stroll again jail secrecy regulation

Sen. Charles Trump, R-Morgan, throughout a Senate Judiciary Committee assembly on Wednesday. Picture by Will Worth/WV Legislative Images.

In an interview, Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Trump, R-Morgan, mentioned he would roll again the results of a regulation handed final 12 months making most data from state jails confidential.

Trump mentioned he regrets creating a brand new exemption to the Freedom of Data Act.

“We have to ensure that no matter we do doesn’t shrink the accessibility of data from FOIA,” he mentioned.

The change in course comes after reporting from Mountain State Highlight confirmed the invoice’s main impact was to additional clock in secrecy what occurs inside West Virginia’s notoriously lethal jails. The 2022 invoice handed unanimously in each chambers however Trump and two different lawmakers concerned within the course of later mentioned they regretted supporting it.

Trump mentioned he gained’t be looking for to repeal the whole regulation, however will as an alternative try to return it to an earlier model, through which a Senate modification ensured that it wouldn’t override the state’s Freedom of Data Act. Doing so will nullify any impact of the regulation. Learn extra. —Dan Lawton

Youngster care subsidies change might make it simpler to lift a household

Tiffany Gale, the proprietor of Miss Tiffany’s Early Childhood Schooling Home in Weirton, speaks to a committee of lawmakers on Tuesday. Picture by Perry Bennett/WV Legislative Images.

Final week, we reported on how tough it has grow to be for West Virginia households to lift youngsters, highlighting choices made lately by lawmakers which have made youngster care tougher to get. One coverage driving that drawback is the best way youngster care suppliers obtain funds for youngsters utilizing authorities subsidies, usually youngsters from low-income households. Earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic, suppliers within the state acquired funds primarily based on whether or not the kid attended class, as an alternative of the variety of college students who had been enrolled.

The outdated system meant that if a scholar on subsidies missed a category for illness or a household emergency, the day care supplier wouldn’t receives a commission. Tiffany Gale, the proprietor of Miss Tiffany’s Early Childhood Schooling Home in Weirton, mentioned that missed earnings is detrimental for companies that on common pay employees round $10 an hour.

“Dad and mom are paying an astronomical quantity,” Gale mentioned. “Nevertheless, with all of our bills, we are able to’t afford to pay folks anymore. And never solely can we not afford to pay folks anymore, however when…it’s primarily based on attendance, we don’t even know the way a lot cash we’re going to get.”

And people insurance policies make it harder for West Virginians like Gale to maintain their companies afloat and proceed to supply youngster care in a state that desperately wants extra choices for working mother and father. In accordance with the Heart for American Progress, 64% of West Virginians dwell in areas with out youngster care suppliers.

On Tuesday, the Home Well being and Human Useful resource Committee superior HB 2854, a invoice that may make enrollment-based subsidies — briefly put in place through the pandemic however set to run out in September — everlasting till not less than 2026. 
Gale testified in favor of the invoice, and it unanimously handed the committee. It was then despatched to the Finance Committee. —Allen Siegler

Go deeper: West Virginia lawmakers rushed to ban abortion. Assist for households hasn’t been as pressing

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