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News From the Capitol, Mar 10, 2023
March 10, 2023 by MASB Government Relations
  • House Votes to Repeal Right-to-Work and Restore Prevailing Wage
  • Repeal of Retention in Third Grade Reading Law Heads to Governor
  • Senate Passes Sinking Funds for School Buses
  • House Passes Expansion of Civil Rights Law 
  • House Education Committee Holds Hearing on Two Bills 
  • Join Us for Behind the Scenes at the Capitol  

 

House Votes to Repeal Right-to-Work and Restore Prevailing Wage

On Wednesday, the House moved quickly to consider and pass House Bills 4004 and 4005 that repeal the Right-to-Work law and House Bill 4007 that reinstates prevailing wage. Both issues are major priorities for the Democrats and the Governor.

HB 4005 would repeal Right-to-Work in the private sector, and HB 4004 would repeal it in the public sector. However, due to the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus v AFSCME, public employers are not allowed to require union membership as a part of employment. Therefore, the repeal in Michigan law will not take effect unless the Supreme Court ruling is overturned. 

Because of the Supreme Court decision that overrules Michigan law, MASB did not weigh in on the right-to-work repeals. However, as the evening went on, we heard about a substitute to the bill that would have removed ALL prohibited subjects of bargaining, repealed the law that freezes step increases and healthcare at the expiration of a contract, and repealed the law allowing penalties for strikes or lockouts. Because of the profound effect those changes would have on collective bargaining and the lateness of the hour, we immediately reached out to our Board of Directors and members of the Government Relations Committee to share our concerns and urge them to contact their Representatives and share the information with others.

Thank you to those who did reach out to your Representative. Because of the calls from superintendents and board members, the substitute was never considered. The bill passed as a simple right-to-work repeal. We will keep an eye on it in the Senate, and if we start to hear rumors of another similar attempt, we will be sure to send an alert. We believe there may be compromises to reach on issues regarding collective bargaining and would welcome those discussions as their own legislation, rather than tying them to a different bill.

Finally, HB 4007 would reinstate prevailing wage for projects that are funded with any amount of state funds, including school district projects. We will be talking to the bill sponsor to see if an exception can be created for projects currently underway.

All three bills passed the House by a party line 56-53 vote and are now before the Senate Committee on Labor. We expect them to be brought up as early as next week.

Repeal of Retention in Third Grade Reading Law Heads to Governor

On Tuesday, the House passed Senate Bill 12 by a vote of 57-51. This bill repeals the mandatory retention sections of the third grade reading law. It states that if a child is still not reading at grade level as they move into fourth grade, the reading intervention program for that child would continue. 

MASB supports the bill, and it will now go to the Governor for her consideration and expected signature. The bill will not go into effect for this school year though; it will go into effect next spring for next year’s third graders.

Senate Passes Sinking Funds for School Buses

Also on Tuesday, by a vote of 28-10, the Senate easily passed Senate Bill 63, which would expand the allowable uses for sinking funds to school transportation.

The bill had been amended in committee to specify that sinking funds could be used for acquisition of student transportation vehicles, and the parts, supplies and equipment used to maintain those vehicles.

MASB supports the bill and appreciates the quick approval of it by the Senate.  It is now under consideration by the House Education Committee. We hope they will also act quickly to approve the bill. If your Representative sits on that committee, you may wish to reach out and encourage a hearing on SB 63.

House Passes Expansion of Civil Rights Law 

On Wednesday, by a vote of 64-45, the House passed Senate Bill 4 to expand the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act. This bill would include sexual orientation and gender identity and expression as protected categories under the Act. 

Earlier in the day, this bill had been approved by the House Judiciary Committee. During debate, many of the arguments echoed those heard in the Senate. Representatives shared personal experiences, mentioned the historic nature of the vote and expressed the need to expand these rights to all people. Others voiced concerns that it went too far and didn’t protect sincerely held religious beliefs. However, “rights based upon religion” have long been protected under the Act. 

MASB supports the bill, which now heads to the Governor for her expected signature. 

House Education Committee Holds Hearing on Two Bills 

On Tuesday, the House Education Committee began hearings on two separate issues. The first, House Bill 4064, would “strongly encourage” the Michigan Department of Education to develop a model cursive writing curriculum and make it available to all public schools if they wish to adopt it. 

The second bill, House Bill 4157, would require schools to excuse absences for students to perform “Taps” at a military honor funeral. 

Neither bill was voted out of committee and testimony may continue.

Join Us for Behind the Scenes at the Capitol  

Register today to join us at the spring Behind the Scenes at the Capitol event on Wednesday, April 19, 2023, in the Anderson House Office Building from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. This event is a great opportunity to come to Lansing and hear from legislators and budget experts who will provide a timely status summary. It also allows for networking between districts to learn from one another.  

Our agenda will include a panel of legislators for discussion, we have invited the chairs and minority vice chairs of the House and Senate Education Committees. We will also have discussions on the status of the state budget, sinking funds and the potential expansion to buses and the status of changes to the teacher evaluation law.

We hope you will join us and also take advantage of the opportunity to speak face-to-face with your legislators, their staff and your fellow board members from around the state on issues affecting your districts.  

Register today!

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