By Kristen Smith
Capital News Service
RICHMOND – The House and Senate are headed in different directions when it comes to repealing Virginia’s “King’s Dominion law,” which generally prevents public schools from opening before Labor Day.
On Monday, the House will consider approving a bill that would make local school boards responsible for setting the school calendar and authorize them to start classes before Labor Day if they want.
House Bill 1467, sponsored by Delegates Thomas “Tag” Greason, D-Lansdowne, and Gregory Habeeb, R-Salem, would rescind the so-called King’s Dominion law, which prevents local schools from opening before Labor Day unless they have permission in the form of a state waiver. The law was meant to help the tourism industry, by allowing tourist attractions like the King’s Dominion theme park to keep their school-aged summer staffs longer.
HB 1467 has a bipartisan group of co-sponsors. It incorporates several other House bills with the same goal. They include HB 1310, proposed by Habeeb; HB 1309, by Delegate Barbara Comstock, R-McLean; HB 1491, by Delegate Kaye Kory, D-Falls Church; and HB 1880, by Delegate Joseph Morrissey, D-Highland Springs.
After folding those bills into HB 1467, the House Education Committee on Wednesday approved the legislation, 15-6.
The full House of Delegates on Monday will consider giving HB 1467 final approval. The House also will consider passing HB 1319, which would let the school boards in Danville, Martinsville, Henry County and Pittsylvania County start classes before Labor Day.
Meanwhile, a Senate committee defeated a Senate bill to eliminate the King’s Dominion law.
The Senate Education and Health Committee voted 4-11 Thursday against Senate Bill 1099, which was sponsored by two senators from Roanoke – Republican Ralph Smith and Democrat John Edwards.