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News From the Capitol, May 19, 2023
May 19, 2023 by MASB's Government Relations
  • House Labor Committee Begins Hearings on PERA
  • Consensus Revenue Estimates Released This Morning
  • Senate Labor Approves Bill Requiring Personal Information Disclosure
  • House Education Committee Approves License Reciprocity 
  • A Chance to Serve—Apply for a MASB Committee  

 

House Labor Committee Begins Hearings on PERA

The House Labor Committee held its first hearing on a package of bills that would repeal some of the prohibited subjects of bargaining currently in the Public Employment Relations Act on Thursday. These bills, House Bill 4354 and House Bill 4356 would repeal teacher placement, layoff and recalls, teacher evaluation, employee discharge or discipline, classroom observations, merit pay, how to notify parents about ineffective teachers, and privatization of noninstructional support services. Removing these items from the prohibited subjects list means they would then be mandatory subjects of bargaining when working on a collective bargaining agreement. 

We, along with MASA, MAISA and others, turned in written testimony outlining our concerns with the bills, particularly repealing teacher placement, layoff and recall, and discipline and discharge. We did not get a chance to testify in committee due to the large number of people requesting time, we expect to testify next week. The teachers that testified during committee told stories mostly of placement issues and trouble with evaluation they experienced since these topics were made prohibited in 2011. 

Thank you to those that have reached out and shared your stories and concerns with your representatives. It was originally the intent of the committee and the House to run these bills both in committee and for a vote on the floor on Thursday. Due to your voices backing up the concerns we were raising, the bills have been slowed down. Keep up the good work!

If you haven’t already, we urge you to add your voice to this effort and share the effect these bills will have on your district, the ability to make sure the right teachers are in front of the right students, and collective bargaining as a whole. We have an alert on our website you can use to find talking points and contact your legislator. 

Consensus Revenue Estimates Released This Morning

The Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference met this morning to unveil their revenue estimates for this fiscal year and beyond. The conference, made up of the House and Senate Fiscal Agencies and the Department of Treasury, is to determine the numbers that next year’s budget will be built upon. 

Estimates have been revised down by $2.7 billion for this and the next fiscal year in the General Fund but the School Aid Fund remains relatively flat. These declines are led by the tax policy changes that were passed earlier this year, the increase to the Earned Income Tax Credit, the roll back of the pension tax, and the triggering of the income tax roll back that was created by the legislature a few years ago. The good news is that these cuts do not directly affect the School Aid Fund and the SAF shows a slight uptick going forward to 2025. However, the pressure on the General Fund could result in even more of the higher education budget getting transferred into the SAF, something we will be watching closely.

With this report, the legislature will now start finalizing the state budget. Those negotiations should begin in earnest next week. 

Senate Labor Approves Bill Requiring Personal Information Disclosure

The Senate Labor Committee approved Senate Bill 169 on Thursday which requires a public employer to share the personal information of a new employee with the union bargaining unit. While we understand the desire for a union representing these employees to be able to know who they are, we oppose the bill as an unwarranted invasion of privacy. 

MASB turned in testimony explaining that under the U.S. Supreme Court Janus Decision, public employees are still under “right-to-work” laws and therefore do not have to join a union. Forcing a school district to turn over an employee’s personal information to an organization they may not want to be a part of puts the district in a difficult position with a brand-new employee. 

During discussion in committee an amendment was added to state that if a person is a part of the address confidentiality act, their personal address would not be shared. However, it also expanded the information that must be shared to include not only personal email, address and phone but other information, including wages.

We will continue to oppose this bill and work to change it to state that the employee must give consent and share their preferred method of communication. From there, a union can ask them for more information. This should not be responsibility of the public employer.

House Education Committee Approves License Reciprocity 

On Tuesday, the House Education Committee unanimously approved 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. These bills are now before the full House for consideration and a vote.

The committee also took testimony on House Bill 4279 which modifies the requirements of taxes levied to allow an intermediate school district to contract with another intermediate school district for career and technical education programs.

The final bill considered was House Bill 4549 which would change the requirements for individuals to be substitute teachers. MASB has concerns with requirements becoming too loose and it having a detrimental effect on our students, and is working with the bill sponsor to address those concerns.

Further hearings on HBs 4279 and 4549 are expected next week.

A Chance to Serve—Apply for a MASB Committee  

Are you looking for a way to be more involved in your Association? Do you want to share your expertise and perspective statewide? Serving on MASB’s Government Relations Committee may be the right opportunity for you!   

MASB committees bring together school board members from around the state to discuss vital issues and help shape your Association’s positions and actions. The Government Relations Committee monitors state and federal legislation and budgets pertaining to public education and school districts.  

To apply, contact Cheryl Huffman at chuffman@masb.org or 517.327.5915 with your interest by June 30, 2023. More information on this and the two other open committees—Resolutions and Bylaws and Legal Trust Fund—is available on the MASB website. You can apply for any of these committees by contacting Cheryl.  

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