Legislative Update
March 2017
 
Week 8 - Legislative Session Updates
By NBCT Marianne Hunter

OK, since we're about halfway through the regular session, let's review. Following last Friday's fiscal committee cutoff, lots of bills bit the dust. Fortunately, a legislative staff person posted a list called, "Bills Passed House of Origin Fiscal Cutoff." It definitely needs a snappier title, but it's very helpful for finding out which bills are still alive. Here are the bills we're still following:
  • HB 1046, which would decouple graduation requirements from statewide assessments by discontinuing the Certificate of Academic Achievement (including an emergency clause that would impact this year's seniors by decoupling the Biology EOC exam), is currently in the House Rules committee.
  • HB 1059, which would delay revisions to the levy lid, is still awaiting executive action in the Ways & Means committee. House Democrats are getting a little antsy, since school districts are already building budgets for next year and may have to plan for layoffs if this bill is not passed. Senate Republicans feel like the looming levy cliff is a good motivator for getting a spending deal done. For more background on "levy lids, caps, cliffs and equalization," this article from the Daily Record is a good primer.
  • HB 1115, which would require paraeducators to meet certain minimum employment standards and provide specialty certificates, got a floor vote on Thursday and passed 93-5. Its companion, SB 5070, is in the Senate Rules committee.
  • HB 1319, which would reduce the frequency that classroom teachers with a professional certificate or a National Board Certificate and principals with a professional certificate, who previously received a performance rating of three or above, must receive a comprehensive summative evaluation, passed out of the House on a vote of 96-0.
  • HB 1341, which would require the PESB to provide teachers with three options to become professionally certified: the ProTeach Portfolio, National Board Certification, or by earning 75 professional learning credits, passed out of the House on a vote of 96-0.
  • HB 1654, which would provide the PESB with expected outcomes and rulemaking authority for program design for Alternative Route programs, got a floor vote on Thursday and passed 98-0.
  • HB 1732, which would protect the confidentiality of PGPs, got a floor vote on Wednesday and passed 97-1. Its companion, SB 5547, is in the Senate Rules committee.
  • HB 1734, which requires payments to school districts for substitutes needed because the PESB requested certificated or classified school employees to serve on committees, has been placed on 2nd reading in the House and awaits a floor vote.
  • HB 1827, which would expand the workforce supply by improving recruitment and retention, especially in high-need areas, and establish a continuum of professional learning, among other measures, is in the House Rules committee.
  • HB 1886, which would transfer numerous duties and responsibilities from the State Board of Education to the Superintendent of Public Instruction, is in the House Rules committee.
  • SB 5238, which would require that cursive writing be taught in schools, has been passed to the Senate Rules Committee.
  • SB 5534, which would provide a housing allowance for certificated and classified employees in school districts with above average residential housing costs, has been passed to the Senate Rules Committee.
And, of course, there are the three education funding bills.
  • HB 1843, the House education funding bill, passed out of the House on a 50-47 vote on Feb 22 and is hanging out in the Senate Ways & Means committee.
  • SB 5607, the Senate education funding bill, passed out of the Senate on a 25-24 vote on Feb 1, and is hanging out in the House Appropriations committee.
  • SB 5825, the education spending bill proposed by moderate Senate Democrats, got a public hearing in the Senate Ways & Means committee on Monday. Following a lengthy staff briefing and questions from the committee, the bill's sponsor, Senator Mark Mullet, provided a "layman's" explanation (beginning at 29:10).
The Democrats are calling SB 5607 "bad math," and the Republicans are asking the Democrats to "show us the money" to pay for HB 1843. Clearly, the dollar amounts are hard to pin down, as illustrated in this  article from Crosscut that explains how one of the funding proposals missed the mark by $1,000,000,000. That's a billion. Dollars.

Meanwhile, the governor's proposal to create new revenue for schools via a variety of tax measures got some attention this week when Senate Republicans called for a vote on the plan. This article in the Spokesman Review explains the "theatrics" behind that strategy.

Odds and Ends
If you've ever been bugged by Hollywood portrayals of the teaching profession, you might enjoy this article: How Pop Culture Misrepresents Educators

Have a great weekend!

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CSTP relays these legislative updates to provide information on bills, budgets and legislative processes. CSTP doesn't have a legislative agenda, but does track legislative issues most relevant to teaching.