Weekly Update
March 26, 2021
Kansas to mandate in-person learning option
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly announced her intention to sign the Back-to-School Law, which mandates all schools offer an in-person option by the end of the month. This action only applies for the rest of the school year. Kansas House members rejected an effort to make this option permanent.

According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, "A National Center for Education Statistics survey conducted from Feb. 22 to March 12 found that between 61% and 69% of Kansas fourth- and eighth-grade students were at least offered the chance to return to in-person learning, while between 16% and 22% did not have that opportunity." Read more here

Kansas is also one of the first states to offer a vaccination to every teacher and Kelly announced today that all persons age 16 and older will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine starting March 29th.

In Missouri, workers in construction, financial services, and higher education will be eligible on March 29th and all remaining tiers will be open starting on April 9th.

Last week the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated its coronavirus guidelines for K-12 schools and reduced the recommended distance between elementary school students (and middle and high school students where community transmission is low) from six feet to three feet

Survey says...

The National Institute for Early Education Research released the findings from two nationally representative surveys of parents of children ages 3 to 5 and learned that the pandemic's impact on state budget and preschool enrollment presents a threat to future funding.

According to the report, "The surveys revealed that participation in preschool programs declined sharply from pre-Covid pandemic levels. Prior to the pandemic, 71% of 4-year-old children in the study attended a preschool program, a percentage similar to what other national surveys have found in recent years. At the time of data collection, preschool participation in the fall of 2020 had fallen from 71% to 54%."

The U.S. Department of Education also released the first of a series of school surveys to provide a national look at how learners fared during the pandemic. According to the report, "As of January and early February of this year, 43% of elementary students and 48% of middle school students in the survey remained fully remote. And the survey found large differences by race: 68% of Asian, 58% of Black and 56% of Hispanic fourth graders were learning entirely remotely, while just 27% of White students were."
Missouri News
Aligned Priorities

Bills moving...

Real World Learning

HB 1304 (Henderson) - legislation that ensures students and businesses are protected from liability claims when hosting real world learning opportunities was voted Do Pass 6-1 from the House Special Committee on Litigation Reform this week and referred to Rules-Legislative Oversight.

HB 101 (Pollitt) - legislation that modifies provisions governing workforce development in elementary and secondary education, including provisions to expand the Visiting Scholars program to allow the State Board of Education to grant temporary teaching certificates to subject-matter experts for career education pathway programs in grades 9-12, was heard this week in the House Committee on Elementary and Education

Early Care and Education

HB 1071 (Shields) - a bill that makes the Quality Assurance Report permanent was passed out of the House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education remains in the committee on Rules-Legislative Oversight. The committee must approve this bill before moving to the floor for debate. 

Innovative Practices

HB 624 (Richey), the Show-Me Success Diploma program, also includes language to establish a competency-based task force was referred to the Senate Committee on Education on March 25th

SB 152 (Hoskins), an education savings plan bill that includes the competency-based education grant program and task force from SB 33 and SB 34, was second read in the House on March 22nd.

Other education legislation

WORKFORCE DIPLOMA PROGRAM: This week the House took up and perfected HCS HB 733, sponsored by Rep. Jon Patterson (R-Lee's Summit).  This bill establishes the "Workforce Diploma Program". 

The House adopted the following amendments during perfection:
  • Changed the title to Workforce Development
  • Removed the requirement of on-site daycare for adult high schools and modified language for innovation waivers
  • Added HB 896 regarding career and technical education
We expect this bill will be Third Read and Passed next week. 

REWARDING WORKFORCE READINESS ACT: On Monday, the House Committee on Higher Education conducted a public hearing on HB 1346, sponsored by Rep. Mike Henderson (R-Bonne Terre).  This bill creates the "Rewarding Workforce Readiness in Institutions of Higher Education Act" which provides a new funding mechanism for public two year and four year colleges and universities based on the calculations of earnings for graduates of these institutions.  

MISSOURI EMPOWERMENT SCHOLARSHIP ACCOUNTS PROGRAM: On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Education conducted a public hearing on HCS HB 349, sponsored by Rep. Phil Christofanelli (R-St. Peters).  This bill creates the "Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program" and specifies that any taxpayer may claim a tax credit, not to exceed 50% of the taxpayer's state tax liability, for any qualifying contribution to an educational assistance organization

Read our weekly report for more details. 

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

Here are a few toplines from activity under the dome this week:
  • A federal grand jury returned additional charges against a Missouri state representative in a COVID-related fraud scheme totaling nearly $900,000
  • This week former Governor Eric Greitens and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt formally announced their intentions to run to replace U. S. Senator Roy Blunt who is not seeking re-election next year.  
  • Ameren received regulatory approval Wednesday to build its largest solar energy facility yetAs proposed last year, the utility plans to build a 6-megawatt solar facility in Montgomery County, along Interstate 70 about halfway between St. Louis and Columbia.
  • Missouri Senate leadership pulled a bill vital for funding the state's Medicaid program from floor debate Tuesday after adopting an amendment barring the use of public money for common contraceptive treatments

Budget Update

This week, the House Committee on Budget finished crafting its version of the FY2022 budget on Thursday, ending the mark-up process after an eight-hour hearing. In a move that surprised some, the committee rejected HB 20, which contained funding and language for expanding Medicaid, by a party-line vote of 9-20.

Chairman Cody Smith intends to file another bill, HB 21, which will include partial funding for the Medicaid expansion ramp-up but will ultimately use less general revenue. Also contained within HB 21 will be rate increases for Medicaid providers. There has now been clear direction from the federal government regarding the enhanced FMAP (Federal Medical Assistance Percentage) money and the eligible use of CRF (Coronavirus Relief Funds). Beyond the failure to fund Medicaid expansion, the committee did not significantly change the original budget bills. That said, we expect to see some significant modifications during the floor debate.

The full House will begin debating the various budget bills, including the supplemental budget, on Tuesday of next week. Democrats and Republicans each are limited to three hours for a total of six hours allocated for debate.
Kansas News

Legislative Update 

Today is the last day for non-exempt committees to meet for the 2021 Kansas Legislative Session. It was a frenzy of a week as committee chairs churned through bills and worked quickly to wrap up their business for the year. Next week, the House and Senate will debate bills on the floor Monday through Wednesday, followed by a five-day weekend and returning for few days of conference committees leading up to first adjournment currently scheduled for April 9. Click here for the full report.

Real World Learning

Aligned has been working to ease the barriers that prevent business and education from forming valuable internship arrangements. HB 2442 provides liability protection for businesses, municipalities and educational institutions that participate in high school work-based learning programs and providing that schools are responsible for injuries to students participating in such programs. To fast track the bill, its contents were inserted into the shell bill  SB 91 and now heads to the House floor. 

Other Education Bills Moving Forward

This week the Senate amended their version of the Kansas Promise Scholarship Act, which looks to increase student enrollment for high need career fields and work-based learning, was worked in HB 2287. This version is almost identical to what the Governor vetoed last year, but it appears this year's version is more palatable to the minority party. It is expected it will be debated next week by the full Senate next week. 
SB32, a bill that authorizes school districts to pay the tuition for a student's dual or concurrent enrollment in a postsecondary educational institution and requiring a tuition waiver for foster children who are dually or concurrently enrolled, was heard on March 17th.
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 expenses. 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 Committee of the Whole.  NO CHANGE.
SB 63a bill that expands the provision of the ACT college entrance exam and WorkKeys assessments to students enrolled in nonpublic schools, was enrolled and presented to Governor Laura Kelly on March 26th.
HB 2039 - the House approved requiring students to pass a civics test to graduate high school. The Committee on Education recommended the bill be passed on March 25th.
HB 2068 will expand the state's Tax Credit for Low Income Students Scholarship Program. Referred to the House Committee of the Whole on March 10. NO CHANGE.
Aligned's Newbern Emcees Advocacy Event
Aligned Advisory Board Member Kristyn Newbern, who also is the director of client development for S.M. Wilson, served as the emcee for this year's Child Advocacy Day. The virtual event attracted 1,050 registrants and Kristyn had the honor of introducing Governor Mike Parson along with other speakers. 

As a mother of two young children and a respected member of the business community, we could not have been more pleased to have Kristyn represent Aligned across this respected group of statewide advocates. 

If you missed Child Advocacy Day this year, Kids Win Missouri put together a link to all presentation and rally recordings and the PowerPoint presentations and resources
Have a great weekend and please let us know if you have any questions.

All the best,

Torree Pederson
(913) 484-4202

Linda Rallo
(314) 330-8442