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Va. Lawmakers Reject Changes in Education Reform Plan

Reduced fines for texting while driving accepted

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    TK
    AP
    Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell

    Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's attempt to expand his school takeover bill failed Wednesday with both the House and Senate rejecting his amendments.

    The bill is a key part of the governor's education reform plan. It would allow a specially appointed state board -- called the Opportunity Education Institution -- to take over Virginia's most struggling schools.

    Right now, only about four schools, including Jefferson Houston Elementary in Alexandria,  would qualify for the takeover. The takeovers won't occur until the 2014 school year.

    The governor amended the bill to add more funding and to expand the number of schools that could be transferred for takeover, but lawmakers decided they wanted to move more slowly.

    Also Wednesday, lawmakers accepted the governor's changes on fines for texting while driving.

    The change cuts the fine in half to $125 for a first offense and $250 for a second offense.

    Texting while driving in Virginia would continue to be a primary offense, meaning an officer can ticket drivers for that offense alone.