Morning Read: VA. Del. ‘Tebows' on House Floor

Whether he knows it or not, famed Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is making big plays in Virginia government.

One delegate even paid homage to the player Wednesday by doing the ‘Tebow’ in the middle of the House floor—the quarterback’s signature celebration touchdown pose where he gets down on one knee and starts praying. 

Del. Robert Bell struck the QB's pose after the bill passed through Virginia's House of Delegates Wednesday.

“We’re happy with whatever help there is,” Del. Robert Bell, the Republican who sponsored the bill and ‘Tebowed’ yesterday after the bill passed in the House, told Politico. “After we passed it, I did the Tebow on the floor.”

Tebow is the informal namesake behind a Virginia bill that would allow home-schooled students to play varsity sports. Tebow was home schooled in Florida but played football for his local public high school team.

The bill’s backers have been trying unsuccessfully to get this legislation passed for the last few years and are thrilled with the attention the “Tebow bill” is getting this year.

The New York Times has an article in today’s paper about the “Tebow bill,” saying that it is the latest attempt by home-schooling advocates around the country to gain greater access to extracurricular activities at public schools.

"People joke, but I think you can attribute a lot of this to the Tim Tebow story," Matthew Gillespie, assistant executive director of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association told the Times. "Everybody thinks they have a Tim Tebow in the backyard waiting to be found. Who's to say?"

But Clay Jones, a cartoonist and columnist for the The Free Lance-Star thinks this bill should be passed in spite of Tebow, not because of him. (Click on the link to see his cartoon).

“Initially I would oppose such a bill. It’s created out of religious hysteria and inspired by a very bad quarterback that ultra religious freaks are championing. It’s a patronizing and populous issue created by conservative politicians appealing to religious conservative voters.”

However, Jones and other supporters of the bill say that home schooled children ultimately should be allowed to play school sports because their parents pay the same tax dollars to support public schools as other children’s parents.

Opponents of the bill say that home schooled students will be taking valuable team slots away from students who actually attend the school, and it is impossible to hold home schooled students to the same academic and attendance standards that the other students are required to meet in order to play.

The bill passed through the House Wednesday with a 59 to 39 vote. Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell has said he would sign the bill into law if it makes it through the Senate.

* A new poll released this morning shows that more than 75 percent of Virginians think welfare recipients should be required to pass a drug test to receive state benefits.

According to the Quinnipiac University poll, voters support testing for public assistance by 76–21 percent with strong support across race, gender, party, income, religious and age groups.

The measure to require testing was postponed until 2013, to give lawmakers more time to study the costs of drug testing welfare applicants.

A fiscal impact analysis attached to the bill introduced in the House of Delegates estimated the cost of drug screening some recipients at $1.3 million in the first year and $1 million annually after that, The Richmond Times Dispatch reports.

The poll also found that Virginia voters  support repealing a requirement for girls to receive an HPV vaccine before they enter sixth grade.

* Maryland’s Board of Public Works finally decided Wednesday to award a $2.4 billion pharmacy contract for state employees to St. Louis-based Express Scripts Inc.

By moving to Express Scripts, Maryland will save over $100 million over the five year contract.

The decision was highly contested in part because state employees will no longer be able get their prescriptions filled at Walgreens under Scripts’ coverage.

* Virginia state legislators said Wednesday that they may have a special legislative session later this year to deal with tax credit bills and/or the health benefits exchange, The Washington Post reports.

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee has sent many of this year’s tax credit bills to a tax reform commission that could make recommendations during a special session over the summer.

Legislators may need to have a special session anyway for the health care bills in order to create a state health benefits exchange as mandated by the federal health care overhaul.

According to the Post, a Senate committee is expected to vote next week to postpone the creation of the exchange until the Supreme Court rules on the law's constitutionality.

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