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Last week was the last four days of the 2019 Legislative Session.  The week was filled with anticipation as we worked, waited, worked, watched, and worked some more advocating for legislation we supported all session. The bills we were watching came down to the last day. On the last day, Friday, the ETF Conference Committee met at 9:30am to agree on the ETF Budget. Friday afternoon both houses concurred with the $7.1 billion education budget. I have linked the ETF spreadsheet and ETF budget bill (SB199).

ETF Budget was delivered to the Governor on May 31.  The $7.1 billion budget is the largest in Alabama history, but if adjusted for inflation, does not restore the money put into schools in 2008, before the recession. The budget includes a 4 percent pay raise. All $35 million for CHIP will be funded in the General Fund Budget. A detailed analysis of the budget will be provided in the final legislative update, which will be provided in a couple of weeks.

Teacher Recruitment and Retention Act (Tier 3) that had been worked on by all education organization (AEA, AASB, CLAS, and SSA) since last year, which passed the House 100-0, was finally placed on the Senate Special Order calendar Friday afternoon. On the floor, Senator Marsh brought an amendment that said Tier 3 would ONLY apply to “certain certificated teachers” and to “K-12 certificated teachers providing classroom instruction.” This amendment was offered after RSA told certain Senators this amendment could not be administered. The Senate passed HB77 as amended 27-4.  The bill had to go back to the House for concurrence, but RSA had to call on their contract lobbyist. Those contract lobbyists went to the House and asked that HB77 not be taken out of the basket, because it could not be administered with the Senate amendment. The bill died in the basket.

 

Bills Signed Into Law:

  • ACT #2019-316 (HB21 by Baker) Partial Lump Sum Option - Provides a fifth option at retirement; allows a member to take up to 2 years of his or her benefit in a one-time partial lump sum distribution in exchange for a reduced lifetime monthly distribution. The bill has no cost to the state. This option will become available to all members who have a retirement date on or after October 1, 2019.

  • ACT #2019-233 (HB41 by Stringer) Stringer-Drummond Vaping Act. Requires the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to regular the retail sales of alternative nicotine devices like sales of tobacco products, prohibits the sale or transfer of alternative nicotine products to any person under the age of 19; prohibits advertising within 1,000 feet of any public or private K-12 school or public playground; beginning January 1, 2020, a county may not issue a license to conduct business as a specialty retailer of electronic nicotine systems if the business is located within 1,000 feet of schools, child care center, churches, and other facilities; prevents alternative nicotine products or electronic nicotine delivery systems from advertisingproducts as tobacco cessation devices, as a healthy alternative to smoking, or as being available in a variety of flavors except for tobacco, mint, and menthol; retailers must obtain a tobacco permit, and must post warning signs in their stores regarding the dangers of nicotine use and potential risks associated with vaping.

  • ACT#2019-281 (HB291 by Garrett) Alabama Released Time Credit Act - Authorizes local boards of education to allow released time for student participation in religious instruction in an elective course for purpose of satisfying certain curriculum requirements in public schools. The sponsoring entity assumes liability for the student who is excused for released time, and transportation may not be arranged, coordinated, or provided for by public school personnel.

  • ACT#2019-241 (HB339 Ledbetter) Pledge of Allegiance -Requires that the pledge of allegiance to the United States flag be conducted at the beginning of each school day in the public K-12 schools of the state and the students can voluntarily recite the pledge. An amendment was added to say a student who refuses to recite the pledge may not be punished or penalized for that refusal.

  • ACT#2019-326 (HB400 by Shedd) Broadband Using Existing Electric Easement. Allow electric utility companies to offer high-speed internet to rural communities by way of their existing power networks.

  • ACT#2019-327 (SB90 by Scofield) Broadband - Expands an existing grant program for broadband providers in rural communities. Uses a $20M ETF to fund ADECA grants for broadband projects.

Bills Sent to the Governor for her signature:

  • Alabama Literacy Act (HB388 by Collins) Delivered to the Governor on May 31. The legislation will require third graders to meet reading benchmarks before moving to fourth grade. The bill also spells out initiatives, such as requiring regional reading specialists to work with struggling students, to boost test scores.

  • Kyle Graddy Act (HB32 by Boyd) Delivered to the Governor on May 31. Allow the possession and self-administration of single dose auto injectable epinephrine by students pm K-12 school campuses.

  • Bathroom Bill (HB159 by Lee) Delivered to the Governor on May 29.This bill was amended to include private schools and to change “toilets” to “plumbing fixtures” giving local schools some flexibility through the plumbing code. The amended bill would decrease the costs of renovation or construction of such stadiums by an undetermined amount dependent upon the difference in (1) cost between the installation of the restroom fixtures required by the bill, and (2) the cost of the additional fixtures otherwise required by the International Building and Plumbing Codes.

  • SSUT Updates (HB183 by Scott) Delivered to the Governor on May 30. Relating to simplified sellers use tax; to update the amnesty and class action provisions for eligible seller and to clarify transactions for which simplified sellers use tax cannot be collected and remitted.

  • SRO Qualifications (HB209 by Pettus) Delivered to the Governor on May 31. Allows a person who was law enforcement officer and retired in good standings from a federal, state, and or local law enforcement agency with at 20 years of law enforcement be hired as school security guards or school resource officers.

  • Computer Science (HB216 by Faulkner) Delivered to the Governor on May 29. This bill requires public schools to offer computer science instruction, beginning with the 2020-2021 It requires public schools that receive computer science professional learning to annually submit a computer science expansion report, which would increase the administrative obligations of the local boards of education with schools that receive this professional learning. Through the ETF budget, funds will be appropriated to the State Department of Education (SDE) to provide for computer science teacher professional learning programs to be implemented by higher education institutions physically located in the state, nonprofits, or private entities. These entities are required to apply to SDE for these funds and to annually submit a computer science expansion data report to SDE, which will be posted on SDE’s website. An appropriation of $300,000 for computer science educator training was provided in the Fiscal Year 2020 Education Trust Fund appropriation recommended by the Governor.It also requires SDE to: (1) develop, and the State Board of Education to approve, a K-12 course of study for digital literacy and computer science; and (2) create an additional certification, endorsement, and permit for computer science educator pathways. According to information provided by the Department, SDE is already undertaking these measures. The bill also allows computer science teachers in public schools to be eligible for the Alabama Math and Science Teacher Education Loan Repayment Program (AMSTEP), subject to legislative appropriations. This bill provides that (1) loan repayments for computer science teachers are limited to $3,000 per year or $1,500 per semester worked; and (2) acute shortage area supplements, in the amount of $2,500 per year or $1,250 per semester worked, shall not be available to computer science teachers, unless the Alabama Commission on Higher Education and State Department of Education concur that there is sufficient need or resources available to allow inclusion of computer science teachers into the AMSTEP program.

  • Designate Code Red as School Lockdown (HB385 by Robertson) Delivered to the Governor on May 31. This bill is to update the current “School Safety Plan” law that was passed several years ago but does not change the law. This bill will simply clarify language and update the law with newer terminology to help better communicate the security status of a school during an unusual or emergency situation. HB385 will replace the term “School Safety Plan” with the term “Emergency Operations Plan.” Each school is already required to have a “School Safety Plan.” Replaces the current term “Code Red Drills” with “Lockdown” plan/drills. Also, will add requirements for all schools to begin to standardize and use the Security Threat Level Terms approved by the State Superintendent last summer (Memo on June 27, 2018). The terms were created by the Department of Education’s Safe School Task Force. Many schools have already received training referencing these terms and how to use them and many school districts are already using them as part of their Emergency Operation Plans.

  • Age of Majority (HB349 by Collins) Delivered to the Governor on May 30. Makes current law consistent with how 18 or 19- year old are classified as a minor or adult. For K-12, it would require that if a child under 19 years of age is on track to graduate, a public school may not deny admission to the student.

  • Career Tech Facilities (HB462 by Easterbrook) Delivered to the Governor on May 31. Authorizes a local board of education to use any available facility for career technical classes upon a finding that the available facility is better suited than those currently being used.

  • Emergency Certification (HB506 by Estes) Delivered to the Governor on May 29. Teaching certificates, length of time for which emergency certificate is valid is extended from one year to two years.

  • Donate Surplus Food (HB566 by Kitchens) Delivered to the Governor on May 31. Allows local boards of education to (1) donate surplus, non-expired food to certain charitable organizations; (2) store and distribute donated food; and (3) adopt a policy allowing donated food to be served at no-cost to certain students. This bill also requires the State Board of Education to adopt rules as necessary to implement these provisions.

  • Apprenticeships (HB570 by Collins) Delivered to the Governor on May 31. As introduced and amended, this bill would increase the administrative obligations of state licensing authorities by requiring these authorities to grant occupational licenses to certain applicants that complete an apprenticeship program.

  • Bible Elective Courses (SB14 by Melson) Delivered to the Governor on May 30. The bill allows public schools to offer elective courses focusing on the study of the Bible and religious history in grades six to 12; to allow public schools to display artifacts, monuments, symbols, and texts related to the study of the Bible and religious history if displaying these items is appropriate to the overall educational purpose of the course; and to require the State Board of Education to adopt rules and policies to implement the requirements of the bill.

  • Alabama Industry Recognized and Registered Apprenticeship Program Act (SB295 by Orr) Delivered to the Governor on May 30. Provides incentives to employers who hire apprentices; to offer a nationally recognized state apprenticeship credential. Relating to the Apprenticeship Tax Credit Act of 2016; to increase the per capita apprenticeship tax credit from $1,000 to $1,250, increase the aggregate apprenticeship tax credit from $3,000,000 to $7,500,000, provide a $500 per capita incentive tax credit for hiring in school youth apprentices; to extend the apprenticeship tax credit through 2025; and to clarify that the State Department of Education shall continue to be the eligible agency to receive and administer career and technical education funding under the Perkins Act.

  • Consent Minority Caucus (SB398 by Marsh) Delivered to the Governor on May 31. Requires the Governor to consult with the membership of certain minority caucuses of the Legislature when appointing minority members to the Alabama Commission on Elementary and Secondary Education

Bill That Goes to Ballot:

  • State School Board Governance (SB397 Marsh) – A constitutional amendment – Allows voters to decide on the March 2020 ballot whether they want to abolish the elected state school board and replace it with a nine-member commission. Members would be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Alabama Senate. Requires the Secretary of Elementary and Secondary education to be appointed by the commission and confirmed by the Senate.  In addition to repealing Common Core, the board would have to develop teacher certification, professional assessment and accountability standards.

Bills that did not pass:

  • HB1 (Hanes) DROP
  • HB19 (South) The bill required rules by AHSAA regarding a student athlete’s eligibility be reviewed and approved by the State Board of Education; Codifies that 25% of AHSAA governing board be appointed by the State Board of Education or State Superintendent of Education; and the Department of Public Accountants audit the AHSAA in the same manner as it would a public agency.
  • HB72 (McCampbell) Change Designated Failing School to Challenged School.
  • HB132 (Hill) Juvenile Justice Bill - would implement recommendation of the Alabama Juvenile Justice Task Force from 2018 and would substantially revise provisions relating to juvenile justice system; would expand early intervention prior to court involvement; would require development of a statewide detention risk assessment tool for pre-adjudication detention decisions and would establish standards for informal adjustments for certain youth; would require local boards of education to inform parents of services available relating to absenteeism and other school-related misconduct and would require the Alabama Department of Education to require each local board of education to annually develop, approve, and submit multi-disciplinary agreements in collaboration with community stakeholders relating to appropriate responses to school-based offenses, court referrals, and accountability; creates the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Fund; create the Juvenile Justice Fund Oversight committee; required Administrative Office of Court DYS to develop, adopt, and validate a risk and needs assessment to identify a child’s risk to reoffend; provides courts discretion as to whether or not a child should be subject to registration or notification as a sex offender under certain conditions.
  • HB150 (Garrett) State Board of Education Term Limit - The bill would limit the service of members of the State Board of Education to two four-year terms of office and provide exception for existing members of the board.
  • HB423 (Warren) Mandatory Kindergarten – Failed in the Senate on Friday by a vote of 18-13. The bill requires every child in Alabama who is age 5 on or before September 1 shall enroll in kindergarten. The exceptions are: A child who is under age 5 on September 1 may be admitted to public school kindergarten, with local school board approval, on a space available basis in the following circumstances: The child transfers from a public school kindergarten in another state, or the child turns 5 years old between September 1 and December 31, and the child satisfies local board of education criteria established for underage enrollment, that if adopted, shall include the successful completion of an assessment to determine developmental readiness for enrollment.
  • HB449 (Gray) Yoga Bill - Under existing law, instruction in yoga is specifically prohibited in Alabama public schools. This bill would authorize local boards of education to offer yoga to students in grades K to 12.
  • SB5 (Allen) Athlete Agents - The bill adds meaning of certified athlete agent as someone who is certified to be an athlete agent in a sport by a national association that promotes or regulates intercollegiate athletics and establishes eligibility standards for participation by a student athlete in that sport.Allows certified athlete agent to pay expenses incurred before the signing of an agency contract by a student athlete, a family member of the student athlete, and an individual of a class of individuals authorized to receive the expenses by the national association that certified the agent if the expenses are: for the benefit of an athlete who is a member of a team authorized to receive a benefit by the national association; of a type authorized to be paid by a certified agent by the national association; for a purpose authorized by the national association that certified the agent.
  • SB8 (Coleman-Madison) Under existing law, any incorporated municipality in the state with a population of 5,000 or more may establish a city board of education. This bill would raise the population threshold for opening a city school system from 5,000 to 15,000. The bill would require cities planning to establish a school system to prove they are financially capable of maintaining a system and require that the new city school system “acquire or build” its own facilities.
  • SB119 (Marsh) Common Core Terminated
  • SB140 (Whatley) Sex Education Material Revised - Would revise the focus of the content, course materials, and instruction provided to public school students in any program or curriculum that includes sex education or the human reproductive process.
  • SB153 (Melson) SSUT Updates – This bill included language for 25% of the portion of the proceeds to the county general fund be distributed by the county to the local board of education based on the total calculated costs for the Foundation Program.
  • SB220 (Albritton) Lottery - A constitutional amendment that would have authorized a lottery in Alabama failed a procedural motion in the House of Representatives. The legislation failed to get the margins needed to come to a vote on the floor. 53 representatives voted for it and 36 members voted against. It was one less vote than needed to pass the motion. A constitutional amendment needs 63 votes in the House to pass.
  • SB222 (Butler) Appointed Superintendent – The bill came up after the budgets Friday, but the House members filibustered the bill, so the House decided to carry over the bill effectively killing it for the session and adjourned soon after. The bill transitions the remaining 37 local county superintendents to appointed positions and provides transition to the appointed office.
  • SB255 (Melson) SRO Qualifications
  • SB311 (Marsh) Alabama School Choice and Student Opportunity Act - Local revenue follows child from non-charter public to public charter school.

WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

Now that the Legislature has adjourned Sine Die, any bills that have been sent to the Governor must receive her signature within 10-days or they are deemed to be “pocket vetoed.” A final status update will be sent once all action has been taken.

The legislature completed 28 of 30 possible Legislative days. Look for the Legislature to convene for a Special Session on prisons in the Fall.

The 2020 Regular Legislative Session will convene in February.