Weekly Update
March 5, 2021
Stimulus negotiations hit a wall

Negotiations on President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion relief bill have stalled as lawmakers were unable to reach a compromise. As far as child care and education is concerned, there is $128 billion for primary and secondary schools, $40 billion for colleges and universities, and $40 billion for child care at stake. 

Missouri News
Aligned Priorities

As our list of legislation continues to grow, we have separated our priority bills into three buckets. 1) Early Care and Education, 2) Real World Learning, 3) Innovative Practices. With any legislation we support, we make sure that the provisions meet at least one of our six core principles: 1) Student-focused/Equity, 2) Accountability, 3) Transparency, 4) Innovation, 5) Return-on-Investment, and 6) Choice.

This week in Jefferson City, we testified in committee, secured bill hearings and met with more than a dozen lawmakers. We have one more week before the Legislative Spring Break. Here's the latest.

Early Care and Education

HB 1071 (Shields) - a bill that makes the Quality Assurance Report permanent was heard Tuesday in the House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education. This legislation would allow the state to continue to develop its program for early care and education continuous improvement. Aligned testified in support along with Kids Win Missouri and the Missouri Association of Children's Agencies. The committee will hold a executive session on this bill next Tuesday.

Aligned's Linda Rallo related a story to the committee of a St. Louis area dentist who is currently struggling to decide where to send her child for Pre-K. In a letter of support, Dr. Jennifer Wheeler explained, "Choosing a quality program has been an arduous process. Because Missouri does not have a statewide quality rating system, working parents like me must rely on word-of-mouth to determine where to enroll our children."

HB 865 (Shields) - a bill that authorizes the creation of county early childhood education boards and a property tax levy to provide funding for early childhood education services passed out of the Committee on Children and Families and is now in House Committee on Rules - Legislative Oversight.

HB 973 (Shields) - a bill that increases the amount of state aid that districts and charters can receive for Pre-K to serve students who qualify for free- and reduced-lunch passed out of the Committee on Emerging Issues by a vote of 11-0.

Real World Learning

HB 1304 (Henderson) - legislation that ensures students and businesses are protected from liability claims when hosting real world learning opportunities has been referred to House Special Committee on Litigation Reform. We are hopeful the chair will hear the bill next week. The companion bill SB 555 was referred to Senate Education this week.

Innovative Practices

This week the Senate perfected SB 152 (Hoskins) a bill which changes the state's 529 education savings plans to mirror federal policy. Senator Lauren Arthur offered a floor amendment that included her competency-based education language from SB 33 and SB 43 which the body adopted. The bill was approved by a voice vote and referred to fiscal oversight.

Arthur's competency-based provisions would allow eligible school districts to receive grants for the purpose of providing competency-based education programs and would create a competency-based education task force.

For a complete update access the Aligned Priority Bill Tracking Report.
Legislative News

Here are a few toplines from activity under the state dome this week:
  • Citing the federal pandemic stimulus funding by Congress, State Senator Lincoln Hough (R-Springfield) filed a bill on Monday that proposes the largest single tax cut in Missouri's history.  
  • Approximately 500,000 Missourians have completed the vaccination regime.  Additionally, it was announced that Missouri would receive 50,000 doses of the newly authorized Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week
  • On March 2, St. Louis voters chose City Treasurer Tishaura Jones and Alderwoman Cara Spencer as their two top choices for a mayoral runoff election.  This is the first time in the City's history to utilize "approval voting" to select candidates in a primary election.  
  • The Missouri Independent reports this week that $1.6 billion in the state budget designated to implement Medicaid expansion to approximately 275,000 newly eligible recipients has been segregated into a new and separate appropriation bill

Budget Update

According to a press release issued by Governor's office this week...

"Governor Mike Parson announced the release of $280,783,940 in FY21 general revenue restrictions. The state's monthly general revenue report released earlier this month showed that net general revenue collections for January 2021 increased 18.3 percent compared to January 2020, increasing from $860.7 million last year to $1.02 billion this year."

Funds released include:
Foundation Formula 
Parents as Teachers 
Urban Teaching Program (Teach for America)$700,000
Missouri Preschool Program Quality Assurance Report
Performance Based Assessment Program
Virtual Schools and Education Programs

The Subcommittee on Education Appropriations met this week to discuss HB 2 and HB 3. The committee recommended moving dollars out of the school broadband fund in anticipation of incoming federal aid. To see the full list click here.
Kansas News

Legislative Update 

Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me 

Lawmakers adjourned today for a small break until next Wednesday as they mark the halfway point or turnaround. Nonexempt bills had to be passed out of their House of origin to remain active for the remainder of session. Several education bills were referred to exempt committees, effectively saving them for work over in the next three weeks. Final floor debate begins the last week of March into early April. Spring break will run from April 10th through May 2nd. Veto session starts May 3rd and runs until the proposed Sine Die, or end-of-session, on May 11th.

Education Bills Moving Forward

HB 2039 - the House approved requiring students to pass a civics test to graduate high school. The bill, which had a difficult time getting out of committee, passed the House on a 69-54 vote despite concerns that the Legislature was encroaching on the state Board of Education's constitutional turf. PASSED; Moving to Senate.

SB 235 would require schools to provide an in-person option to all students by March 26th. The Senate voted 26-12 to pass this bill after noting that it was not a mandate but a strong suggestion. PASSED by Senate; Moving to House.

HB 2119 offers a voucher to eligible children's families to access funding equal to the base state aid per pupil to pay for private school tuition and other expense. This bill incorporated the language from HB 2068, expanding tax credits for students to attend private schools and HB 2067, requiring school districts to allocate funding to ensure all students achieve specific goals. REFERRED TO APPROPRIATIONS TO SAVE.

HB 2287 this week. The bill establishes the Kansas Promise Scholarship Act to provide scholarships to students who attend postsecondary educational programs that correspond to high-need career fields. REFERRED TO APPROPRIATIONS TO SAVE.

SB 63 - Expanding the provision of the ACT college entrance exam and WorkKeys assessments to students enrolled in nonpublic schools. PASSED OUT OF SENATE.

HB 2068 will expand the state's Tax Credit for Low Income Students Scholarship Program. REFERRED TO APPROPRIATIONS TO SAVE.

SB61, which amends the tax credit for low-income students scholarship program act to expand student eligibility, was passed out of the Senate 23-14. The bill broadens the program that gives up to $10 million a year in state tax credits to entice businesses and individuals to donate money to a private school scholarship program. PASSED OUT OF SENATE.

HB 2351 - provides liability protection for businesses, municipalities, and educational institutions that participate in high school work-based learning programs and outlines that schools are responsible for the students' liability in such programs. WILL BE AMENDED ONTO OTHER BILL.
A board that doesn't get bored
Aligned held its second quarter board of directors meeting today. We have a talented group of leaders guiding our team. Today, they learned all about the foundation formula and eagerly extended our time limit to dive even deeper into the weeds. We love our wonky team and they are quickly becoming education experts. 

Cheers to our incredible board!! 

All the best,

Torree Pederson
(913) 484-4202

Linda Rallo
(314) 330-8442