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News From the Capitol, Mar 17, 2023
March 17, 2023 by MASB Government Relations
  • House Committee Approves Repeal of Public Act 54
  • House K-12 Appropriations Subcommittee Discusses Free Meals for Students
  • House Education Begins Hearings on Repealing A-F Ranking System
  • Senate Committee Approves “Filter First” Legislation 
  • Senate Education Committee Considers License Reciprocity
  • Public Comment Open on Amending Governmental Immunity
  • Join Us for Behind the Scenes at the Capitol  

 

House Committee Approves Repeal of Public Act 54

On Thursday, the House Labor Committee finished testimony on House Bill 4044 that would repeal Public Act 54 of 2011. This act states that upon the expiration of a contract, step increases and health care contribution amounts are frozen until a new contract is in place. It also states that wages shall not be applied retroactively unless required by an arbitration panel or included in a negotiated bargaining agreement.

MASA testified opposed to the bill, reasoning that it hinders the ability to settle budgets, especially in times of tight budgets. They spoke to concerns about the teacher shortage and their willingness to discuss current labor laws to find agreeable changes. MASB has also expressed opposition to the bill for many of the same reasons as MASA. 

The committee approved HB 4044, and it is now before the full House for its consideration. We urge you to reach out to your state representative and share your concerns with this bill, experiences in your district and how this will directly affect your bargaining units. Look for a formal alert to come out next week as we expect the bill to be brought up for a vote.

House K-12 Appropriations Subcommittee Discusses Free Meals for Students

On Thursday morning, the House K-12 Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing focused on the Governor’s proposal to extend free breakfast and lunch to all students. As you know, this is a legislative priority of MASB’s, and we are excited to work with the Legislature to include this in the budget and ensure that it can be implemented for all schools for the 2023/2024 school year.

MASB testified to our support and the importance of the program starting for all districts on the first day of school. The language currently says that all lunch debt must be forgiven before a district will qualify for free meals. The budget proposal includes money for districts to pay off that debt. We urged the committee approve those funds sooner rather than later so that all students have access to free meals on their first day of school.

We have not yet seen a budget proposal from the House but expect this to be included. We’ll keep you updated as we get more information from either the House or the Senate on their budget proposals.

House Education Begins Hearings on Repealing A-F Ranking System

On Tuesday, the House Education Committee began hearings on House Bill 4166, which would repeal Section 1280g of the Revised School Code, known as the A-F rating system for schools. MDE kicked off testimony stating that the A-F system does not meet federal requirements for an accountability system and was redundant to the system Michigan uses to meet those requirements. 

Other education groups also testified to the arbitrary nature of A-F and its reliance on the statewide assessment to create ratings for schools. This bill would remove that system and maintain the accountability system and parent dashboard currently in place.

Further hearings are expected on Tuesday.

Senate Education Committee Considers License Reciprocity

On Tuesday, the Senate Education Committee started testimony on a pair of bills aimed at reciprocity for certain licenses between states.  Senate Bill 161 would allow for reciprocity of a person’s teaching certificate from another state, country, or Federally-recognized Indian tribe. Senate Bill 162 would do the same for school counselors.

Dr. Daveda Colbert, Superintendent of Wayne RESA, and Lou Steigerwald, Superintendent of Norway-Vulcan Schools, each testified to the benefits of extending this reciprocity. Superintendent Steigerwald spoke specifically about challenges in getting teachers in the Upper Peninsula. This is just one piece to address staffing issues that our districts face. No one testified in opposition to this issue.

The bills are expected to have further hearings soon.

Senate Committee Approves “Filter First” Legislation 

On Thursday afternoon, the Senate Energy and Environment Committee unanimously approved Senate Bill 89, which would create the Clean Drinking Water Access Act. The act would require each school to develop a drinking water safety plan and make the plan available to the state government. It would also require hydration stations and other water filters to be placed in schools by the end of the 2024-2025 school year. 

The bill also creates the clean drinking water fund in the Department of Treasury, and previous budgets have appropriated money for this purpose. However, it also states that schools will not be held to this new law unless an appropriation is made by the Legislature.

The bill is now before the full Senate for its consideration.  MASB has been in conversations with the bill sponsor, Sen. John Cherry (D-Flint) on some technical and reporting changes we would like to see. We are hopeful our recommendations will be included so that the bill can be implemented properly and is fully funded. 

Public Comment Open on Amending Governmental Immunity

The Michigan Supreme Court is currently considering an amendment to Michigan Court Rules 7.202 and 7.209, which if adopted would negatively impact governmental entities as it relates to the defense of governmental immunity.  Learn more about this proposed amendment and how it could adversely affect school districts, and make your opinion known by submitting to the public comment period. More information about this topic, including a sample letter for comment can be found online.

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 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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