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Legislative Update - Week 5

The legislature completed the 9th and 10th legislative days. Today, February 9, is the last day candidates may qualify to participate in 2018 primary election with major political parties.

Bill Passed the House

HB13 (Fincher) was on the special order in the House on Tuesday but the House adjourned before getting to it. On Thursday, the bill was finally brought up for a vote. When brought up Rep. Fincher substituted the Senate companion bill, SB14 (Dial), which is in identical form and both require a teacher to give a 30-day notice (currently 5 days) of resignation any time after the school year begins. This bill now goes to the Governor for her signature.

Bill Passed the Senate

SB202 (Bussman) referred to as the “Bus Bill” passed the Senate on Thursday. Although the bill was favorable to education when introduced, the version passed by the Senate raises several concerns. The following concerns were noted by the SDE transportation personnel:

  • This bill penalizes local school systems who pay cash for buses.
  • It punishes systems that choose not to take on debt by only giving them 70% of an already underfunded amount. This was totally new/unexpected and had never been mentioned in any discussions prior to the floor discussion and vote.
  • It prevents systems from carrying over funding making it difficult for systems to finance buses.
  • If funding is based on students transported, schools could never afford special needs bus.
  • This bill is not beneficial in any way to the Fleet Renewal program.

Committee Meetings

The education appropriation bills were in the House Ways & Means Education Committee on Tuesday for a public hearing. Vic, addressed the committee on behalf of CLAS. He thanked the committee for their hard work developing a positive education budget. On Wednesday, the committee gave all bills a favorable report. The education appropriations and supplemental bills will be on the House floor Tuesday. View the ETF spreadsheet linked below.

 

The approved W&ME Committee approved ETF budget would increase spending from the ETF by $216 million, to $6.6 billion.

Pay raise – 2.5% for all active K-12 and two-year college employees.

PreK – $20 million increase. $5,000 additional to the Governor’s “Strong Start, Strong Finish” initiative.

Foundation Program (all increases from FY18)

  • OCE - $22.7 million
  • Classroom Materials - $5.4 million
  • Technology - $4.2 million
  • Library Enhancement - $3.1 million
  • Professional Development - $580,000
  • Transportation - $3.9 million
  • Fleet Renewal - $2.6 million
  • Technology Coordinators - $ 1.9 million
  • School Nurses - $780,000

Alabama Reading Initiative (ARI) received additional $5 million - of that increase, $1.6 million will be used for 15 regional reading coaches. 

National Board-Certified Teacher (NBCT) received a $1.5 million increase to provide an additional stipend for NBCT certified teachers to teach literacy, math, and science in at-risk schools. 

Career Tech - $1.3 million increase for K-12 career tech.

Community College System received $16.1 million total funding increase and $125,000 increase for the volunteer firefighter certifications.

Additional line-items include a $1 million increase for the Department of Child Abuse Prevention and Neglect. Public libraries received a $450,000 increase.

 

SB21 (Dial) – would give retired educators a one-time bonus check. The bill was given a favorable report, even though Dial is still working on the bill. He needs to figure out how the “13th check” will be funded and at what level.

SB102 (Orr) – prohibits college and universities, local board of education, schools using public funds to advocate for or against ballot measures.

HB24 (I. Whorton) and SB22 (Brewbaker) are companion bills. Both bills require the local board of education to post job vacancies on the board website, at a minimum, or at each school campus and worksite, and decreases the time to post from 14-7 days before position may be filled. SB22 has passed the Senate. Both bills were on the education policy agenda Wednesday. Amendments were made to both bills to make them identical. The amendment adds the requirement that the local board of education provide, any person or organization, upon request, electronic notification of personnel vacancies from the executive officer. Both bills received favorable reports as amended.

HB1 (Hanes) - Employees Investment Retirement Plan (EIRP) this is a new name for the DROP bill. The bill received a favorable report.

HB71(Collins) – The bill provides qualifications for the Secretary of Early Childhood Education, who is appointed by the Governor. Wednesday the Senate Education & Youth Affairs Committee gave the bill a favorable report. The bill now moves on to consideration by the full Senate.

SB153 (Melson) - Would remove the prohibition against a county superintendent of education having additional employment and remove the limit on annual travel expenses for certain county superintendents of education. The bill was given a favorable report.

Bills Introduced:

SB280 (Brewbaker) and HB389 (McMillan) – Current law states a county superintendent of education may be elected if authorized under a local law or amendment to the Constitution of Alabama. These bills would require all county superintendents to be appointed by the county board of education, and provides transition to appointed office.

HB396 (Ford) –  The bill requires each local board of education to establish a local school calendar providing 1050 instructional hours, beginning with the 2018-2019 school year, and each school year thereafter, requires that the first day of instruction for students be no earlier than two weeks before Labor Day, and requires that teacher salaries remain at existing levels.

NEXT WEEK:

The education funding bills are first on House special-order calendar Tuesday, February 13.

  • HB174 – Public education employees, salary increase, including K-12 and other designated education institutions.
  • HB175 – Education budget, appropriations for the support, maintenance, and development of public education.
  • HB176 – Lyman Ward Military Academy appropriation.
  • HB177 – Talladega College, appropriation.
  • HB178 – Tuskegee University, appropriation.
  • HB179 – supplemental appropriation for fiscal year ending September 30, 2018, for Education Trust Fund Advancement and Technology Fund.
  • HB180 – supplemental appropriations for fiscal year 2018, from Education Trust Fund.

Several other education related bills are in position to be selected for the House and Senate special-order calendars next week.  

Committee Meetings

HB166 (Davis) - Will be on the agenda in the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee at 1:00pm on Tuesday, February 13 in Room 727. This bill amends existing law to further define the practice of marriage and family therapy. While on the House floor it was amended (see page 2 line 9) to add school systems as a place where Marriage and Family Therapists can practice. If this amendment to the legislation remains, Marriage and Family Therapists will be allowed to diagnose, assess and treat mental and emotional disorders in schools. The legislation also removes prohibitions on prescribing medicinal drugs and authorizing electroconvulsive therapy. The possibility that a Master’s level therapist might be able to prescribe and/or authorize electroconvulsive therapy is of great concern to school personnel. 

SB44 (Coleman-Madison) – A public hearing is called for Wednesday in the Senate Education & Youth Affairs Committee. Under existing law any incorporated municipality in the state with a population of 5,000 or more may establish a city board of education. The bill would increase the minimum population to 25,000, require SDE determine the financial capability of a city to sustain a school system before the city could establish a city school system. These revisions would not apply to cities that have met the inhabitant criteria under prior law and executed formal separation agreements before the effective date of this amendment. Additionally, the bill requires proposed city school system to acquire or build its own school facilities.

SB269 (Whatley)  – Revises the content and course materials for public K-12 sex education.

SB270 (Whatley) – Bill would allow the administration of autoinjectable epinephrine on K-12 school campuses by students.

Convene Report - The House and Senate will convene Tuesday, February 12 at 2:00.

To join the CLN contact the CLAS Communication Coordinator Susie Ellison via email susie@clasleaders.org or call (800) 239-3616.