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Legislative Update - Week 3

It was back to basics this week. The legislature worked a regular schedule. The House and Senate convening Tuesday and Thursday with Wednesday committee meetings.


Tuesday, the House passed resolutions and one bill on the regular order calendar before adjourning, and the Senate worked a special-order calendar passing one bill related to education. SB22 by Sen. Brewbaker, adds the requirement to post personnel vacancies to the local board’s website, and changes the time it must be posted before the position is filled from 14 days to 7 days.


Wednesday was very busy with many education bills in committees (read the committee report below).


Thursday, the House worked a regular order calendar, which had two education bills, HB27 by Rep. Baker and HB71 by Rep. Collins. HB71 by Collins passed the House and now goes to the Senate.  HB27, repeals a provision that prevents school systems from moving forward in disciplinary action when an employee is also charged with the crime of sexual contact with a student, amends criminal code to reflect changes in the Students First Act to eliminate confusion. A few House members spoke against it. Due to disagreement about the intent of the bill, Rep. Baker decided to carry over the bill, killing HB27 in the House. The good news is the Senate companion bill, SB28 by Sen. Pittman, passed the Senate and has been transmitted to the House. Sen. Marsh’s SB76, that would allow more people to take optional standard deduction on their state income taxes, passed the Senate too. CLAS is tracking this bill because it would decrease receipts to the ETF by an estimated $4 million, beginning in FY20 and each year thereafter.

Bills Introduced:

 

  • HB293 (Rep. Poole) - Provides for biennial budget periods, and the Education Trust Fund and General Fund be considered on alternate years.
  • HB294 (Rep. Poole) - Changes the statutory meeting dates of the Legislature to implement biennial budgeting periods.
  • SB202 (Sen. Bussman) - Currently the depreciation funding of school buses is set at a 10-year limit. This bill would establish a 12-year, or 200,000 mile depreciation schedule for funding of the depreciation in value for school buses.
  • SB212 (Sen. Orr) - Creates the Alabama School for Cyber Technology and Engineering in Huntsville, Alabama, as an residential, independent school for students with educational opportunities and experiences in the fields of cyber and engineering. Provides for the membership, powers, compensation and terms of the board of trustees, programs offered, extracurricular activities and eligibility requirements of students. Makes a conditional appropriation of $1.5 mill from ETF for FY19.

Committee Meetings:

 

Bills that received Favorable Reports: 

 

  • Senate Finance and Taxation Education
    • SB101 - (Sen. Orr) This bill would authorize the State Department of Education, pending available funds, to offer competitive two-year grants to public schools for the purpose of developing new educational programs or continuing existing educational programs for gifted or talented children.
      Senate Fiscal Responsibility & Economic Development
    • SB149 (Sen. Scofield) - creates the Alabama Rural Broadband Act to provide income tax credits to entities that purchase, construct, or install qualified broadband telecommunications network facilities in rural areas of Alabama beginning after December 31, 2017 through December 31, 2023. This bill will take an estimated $130 million from the Education Trust Fund.
  • House Ways and Means Education
    • HB261 (Rep. Lovvorn) creates a loan repayment program for public school teachers titled the "Alabama Math and Science Teacher Education Program" and provides that the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE) administer the program. This program would provide $2,500 per semester in federal loan repayment for an eligible full-time math or science teacher with an additional $1,250 per semester available to those who teach in acute shortage areas. Rep. Poole wants to have benchmark data to measure the effectiveness of this program. He wants the data to show if this program is creating a shift in teachers going into math or science. If the program is not effective, it may be cancelled.
    • Not a bill, but per the request of Rep. Poole, chairman of the committee, Franklin County Superintendent, Greg Hamilton, asked the committee for funding to repair Vina High School. The High School was severely damaged during a December 2016 tornado, since then students have been displaced in mobile classrooms. The school district has tried to fill the gaps in funding to repair damages, but has come up short. Mr. Hamilton’s funding request was $750,000.
  • House Financial Services
    • HB251 (Rep. K. Johnson) - Wallace-Folsom Savings Investment Plan allows contributions to savings accounts by guardians and conservators for education.
  • House Education Policy
    • HB13 (Rep. Fincher) - Under existing law, a tenured K-12 education employee may not terminate their employment within the 30 calendar days prior to the beginning of a school year and is required to provide five days written notice at any other time. This bill would provide that the law applies to all K-12 teachers and increases the time frame required for a teacher to give notice before terminating their employment at any other time of the year to 30 days instead of five.
    • HB31 (Rep. Crawford) - Prohibition removed for County Superintendents of Education to have additional employment.
    • HB114 (Rep. Greer) - Permits the use of the Bible and other scripture as educational material.
    • HB70 (Rep. Collins) -  Adds four non voting members to SBE. Past/Current TOYS, Boys State Delegate, and Girls State Delegate. SDE staff member assigned as liaison between the Board and State Superintendent of Education. A few committee members said this bill was not a solution to problems the SBE is having, and now is not the right time to make changes to the board structure. It would be best for the new Superintendent be selected and allow time for him/her to enact change.

Bills that failed or were carried over:

 

  • Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee rejected SB132 (Sen. Pittman) proposed constitutional amendment that would allow voters to decide whether to close the rainy day funds in the Alabama Trust Fund including the Education Trust Rainy Day Account.
  • HB24 (Rep. Whorton) was carried over by the sponsor. The bill would add the requirement to post personnel vacancies to the local board’s website, and change the time it must be posted before the position is filled from 14 days to 7 days.

Next Week:

 

Tuesday, January 30, CLAS will host its first Legislative Hill Day. CLAS members will identify key issues of interest, experience the Alabama legislative process, and explore advocacy strategies that they can use to impact public policy.


We still have slots available for the February 27, 2018 Legislative Hill Day. If you are interested contact me via susie@clasleaders.org, or call (334) 265-3610.

 

Bills in Committee:

 

  • HB191 - (Rep. Fridy) - proposes an amendment to the constitution to provide that every parent has a fundamental right to direct the upbringing, education, care, and custody of his or her children.
  • SB14 - (Sen. Dial) - Under existing law, a tenured K-12 education employee may not terminate their employment within the 30 calendar days prior to the beginning of a school year and is required to provide five days written notice at any other time. This bill would provide that the law applies to all K-12 teachers and increases the time frame required for a teacher to give notice before terminating their employment at any other time of the year to 30 days instead of five.
  • SB28 - (Sen.Pittman) - repeals a provision in the law that prevents school systems from moving forward in disciplinary action when an employee is also charged with the crime of sexual contact with a student, and amends criminal code to reflect changes in the Students First Act to eliminate confusion
  • HB1 (Rep. Hanes) - provides a deferred retirement option plan for Tier I and Tier II members.

Convene Report - The House will convene Tuesday, January 30, at 1:00, and the Senate at 2:00 p.m. the same day.

 

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