Beginning July 1st
3:20 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

New Laws On the Books

A broad bipartisan and bicameral consensus at the General Assembly may not create sensational headlines—but such agreements do occur.  In Part One of our series on new state laws that take effect this week.

Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports on two sets of bills that fit that description: reforming school Standards of Learning tests and overhauling the Commonwealth’s mental health system.

Lawmakers in both parties and Governor McAuliffe made it a priority to cut the number of SOL tests and revise their focus. Early grades will now focus more on reading and math tests. Delegate Tag Greason sponsored a law to limit assessments in third through eighth grades.

“What we did, I think, impacts most families in Virginia.  We reduced the number of tests. We moved away from rote memorization and focused on critical thinking and problem-solving. And, most importantly, we established an Innovation Committee that can continually look at our assessment programs on an ongoing basis.”

Delegate Ben Cline’s bill creates a real-time state registry of available psychiatric beds. Cline says other new laws will lengthen the time that people who are a danger to themselves or others may be held.

“We made changes to the emergency custody order process, extended the period from the current four hours, eliminated the two-hour extension, and just made it a flat eight-hour period—allowing for an additional four hours when transferring from one state facility to another.”

And if a private bed is not found, a state facility must be used.