Lame Duck Update
“Lame duck” session is well underway and the Legislature has not hesitated to get started on a great number of issues with the November election behind us and many new faces set to take office in January. Below is a summary of issues of specific interest that saw action (or no action) this week:
- The Senate Education Committee reported out House Bills 5528 and 5529, sponsored by Reps. Jason Wentworth (R-Clare) and Pamela Hornberger (R-Chesterfield Twp.), which would create a School Safety Commission to establish school safety standards.
- While the bills included somewhat onerous provisions as passed out of the House, they were amended significantly in committee to focus more on best practices and recommendations rather than regulations.
- The Senate Education Committee also reported out Senate Bill 885, sponsored by incoming Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clark Lake), which would allow districts that have received a waiver permitting pre-Labor Day start to maintain the waiver until notifying the state otherwise.
- House Bill 5526, sponsored by Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw Twp.), would create an A-F letter grading system for schools. The bill is on the House floor and saw a flurry of lobbying activity this week. It remains to be seen whether the votes will come together to move HB 5526 forward in the coming weeks.
- House Bills 5707 and 6401, sponsored by Reps. Aaron Miller (R-Sturgis) and Jeff Noble (R-Northville) would maintain the percentage of student growth factored into teacher and administrator evaluations at 25%, rather than increasing to 40% under current law for the 2018-2019 school year. The bills also are awaiting further action on the Senate floor.
- The year-end K-12 supplemental budget bill is still in the development phase. MEMSPA continues to advocate for funding to continue the work of the Early Literacy Task Force.
While many other education-related bills may see activity over the next three weeks in addition to those noted above, we are primarily focused on working to stop any further raids or diversions from the School Aid Fund, which has all too often become a piggybank for other priorities throughout the state budget. A number of troublesome concepts have been floated in Lansing that would divert or reduce SAF revenue, and we are urging members to resist the temptation to rush through any such changes with only 9 days left on the legislative schedule this year.