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Bell's inhaler, EpiPen, bus driver, Scottsville bills advance

Several bills from Del. Rob Bell, R-Albemarle received committee and subcommittee endorsements this week.

Among those bills is HB 860, which would authorize school nurses to stock Albuterol inhalers at the school and would authorize them to administer the medication to students in emergencies. Under current law, school nurses only can administer asthma inhalers if the student has a prescription and provides the medication.

The bill, which was requested by Albemarle County school nurses, passed unanimously through the Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee on Tuesday and now heads to the full House for a vote.

On Wednesday, HB 351 received unanimous support from the Education Committee and has been referred to the Appropriations Committee. The bill was suggested by an Albemarle County Public Schools official and seeks to make it possible for schools to re-hire retired employees as bus drivers.

Under current law, once retired, a state employee’s retirement benefits are suspended if they return to work as a state employee, according to a news release from Bell’s office. Virginia law already includes a “critical shortages” exception for teachers of certain designated subject matters, and HB 351 would allow for a similar designation for school bus drivers where there is a critical shortage.

“There is a desperate need for bus drivers,” Bell said in the release. “Meanwhile, a large number of retired school employees are qualified and would be happy to help. This bill would enable schools to hire them back without impacting their retirement benefits.”

On Thursday, Scottsville Mayor Nancy Gill and Town Administrator Matt Lawless traveled to Richmond to testify in favor of Bell’s HB 345, which would update the town’s charter, according to a release. Among other changes, the bill would establish staggered elections so that half of the Town Council would be elected on alternating terms.

The bill unanimously passed the House Counties, Cities and Towns Subcommittee.

On Friday, the education committee unanimously endorsed HB 999, which would require public schools that stock EpiPens to have an employee available to access and administer the drug during school hours. The employee must be adequately trained in EpiPen use and be able to access any locked storage container maintained by the school.

“This bill was brought to me by a constituent who wanted to make sure that EpiPens are always accessible if the school has them in the office,” Bell said in a release. “The school nurse is certainly the most qualified person to administer epinephrine, but the nurse may not always be available. Especially in smaller schools or in an emergency, it is important that someone else be able to get to the EpiPen and administer it to the student.”


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