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News From the Capitol, Apr 21, 2023
April 21, 2023 by MASB Government Relations
  • House Passes Expanding Sinking Funds for School Buses 
  • House Committee Adopts Bill Changing Student Discipline 
  • Senate Passes “Filter First” Legislation  
  • Paycheck Deduction of Union Dues Hearing Held in House Labor Committee
  • School Board Members go Behind the Scenes


House Passes Expanding Sinking Funds for School Buses 

On Thursday, the House passed Senate Bill 63 by a vote of 61-45. This bill expands the allowable uses for sinking funds to include school transportation. It also includes the acquisition of other vehicles to transport students, as well as the parts, supplies and equipment used to maintain those vehicles. 

The bill now goes back to the Senate for a vote on immediate effect and then will head to the Governor. We are hopeful the Senate will grant  immediate effect so districts will be able to take advantage of this expansion during elections later this year. The vote should be early next week.

House Committee Adopts Bill Changing Student Discipline 

On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee approved a package of bills that includes House Bill 4125. This bill states that a student cannot be suspended or expelled for more than ten days for an action arising from an incident in which the student claims they were sexually assaulted.   

The purpose of the bill is to give students confidence that if they report an assault, or report witnessing an assault, while they were doing something against school rules the assault will be treated seriously, and they won’t get in trouble for the other action. 

During the hearing, the bill was amended to better define the purpose and say that if a district considers the factors currently required for suspensions and expulsions longer than 10 days, that action can be taken. With these changes, MASB has been able to remove its opposition.

The bill is now before the full House for consideration. 

Senate Passes “Filter First” Legislation  

On Thursday, the Senate passed Senate Bill 89 to 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. 

Changes to the bill to address reporting to staff and parents recommended by MASB were adopted during debate on the floor. These same changes have been made in the House version of the bill.  We expect the final version of the bill to say that hydration stations would be required in school buildings by the end of the 2025-2026 school year, which is the date that is included in the House version of the bill.

Senate Bill 89 is now before the House for consideration.

Paycheck Deduction of Union Dues Hearing Held in House Labor Committee

On Thursday morning, the House Labor Committee began hearings on House Bill 4233 which would allow school districts to automatically deduct union dues from employees paychecks, at their request. This reverses a law passed in 2012 that prohibited this for schools but not any other public employer.

The testimony spoke to the ease of the transaction and taking the onus off union personnel having to track down individuals. MASB supports the bill, we opposed the ban in the first place because it was targeted only at school staff.  More hearings are expected.

School Board Members go Behind the Scenes

On Wednesday, more than 70 school board members from around the state joined MASB’s Government Relations team for our Behind the Scenes at the Capitol event. The day kicked off with a panel discussion with the Chair of the House Education Committee, Rep. Koleszar (D-Plymouth), Minority Vice-Chair of the House Education Committee, Rep. Greene (R-) and the Minority Vice-Chair of the Senate Education Committee, Sen. Damoose (R-Harbor Springs). They covered topics from evaluations, to standardized testing, to their opinions of the biggest issues facing education. They also spoke to the importance of getting to know their board members and the board members reaching out to introduce themselves and talk about their districts.

After the panel there was a presentation from Senate Fiscal Agency on the Governor’s proposed budget. Because the House and Senate have not released their proposals yet there was nothing to compare. Christopher Iamarino of Thrun Law Firm presented on sinking funds, their uses and what the potential expansion to buses will mean and Bob Kefgen from MASSP gave an update on the teacher and administrator evaluation law and the potential changes we could see from this legislature.

The day wrapped up with a legislative update and lunch with legislators and staff. Thank you all who came and participated, and we hope to see even more of you in the fall!

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