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News From the Capitol, Sept 15, 2023
September 15, 2023 by MASB Government Relations

September 15, 2023

  • Senate Committee Begins Hearings on Returning to Work After Retirement
  • House Committee Approves Mandating Dental Exams for School Enrollment
  • House Education Committee Talks School Safety
  • Legislation on Staffing Levels Considered in House Labor Committee 
  • School Board Members Go Behind the Scenes

 

Senate Committee Begins Hearings on Returning to Work After Retirement

On Tuesday, the Senate Education Committee began hearings on House Bill 4752 which amends the Public School Employees Retirement Act to address the current requirement that a retiree must wait 9 months after retirement before being able to substitute in a district without penalty to their pension. 

As passed by the House, the bill would allow public school retirees to return to work without a 9-month waiting period and earn up to $10,100 per calendar year. If the $10,100 threshold is exceeded, penalties will be assessed against pension benefits. After the 9-month period, the threshold is lifted. 

The Senate Committee proposed changing the limit to $15,100 during its hearing on the bill. Conversations on this issue are still happening and further changes are expected, including possibly shortening the timeline to six months instead of nine. Hearings will continue next week.

House Committee Approves Mandating Dental Exams for School Enrollment

The House Health Policy Committee approved Senate Bill 280 this week, which would require dental assessment before enrolling in school for the first time. The exam would have to occur within six months of the child’s registration or first day of school. However, if a parent does not comply, the child cannot be held out of school. If the child is missing the assessment, a notification must be sent to the parent and the parent must sign a form saying they will do it or that they are exempt due to personal religious beliefs.

The current requirement for the exam expires on January 1, 2024, the bill would remove that date as well. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services would also expand the Oral Health Assessment program across all local health departments to assist families in receiving the exams. 

SB280 is currently before the full House for its consideration and approval.

House Education Committee Talks School Safety

The House Education Committee met on Tuesday to discuss school safety. Rep. Kelly Breen (D-Novi) and Rep. Luke Meerman (R-Coopersville) presented a package of bills they said focus on safety prevention, response and recovery. It includes things like using common terminology to assist emergency services and law enforcement when responding to a school emergency, increased training for all staff, and infrastructure improvements. 

The committee also heard from superintendents and the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals. No action was taken on any of the legislation and further hearings are expected throughout the fall.

Legislation on Staffing Levels Considered in House Labor Committee 

On Thursday, the House Labor Committee began hearings on House Bill 4688 which would make staffing levels within a bargaining unit a mandatory subject of bargaining. Through testimony, it was clear that the major push for this change is coming from firefighters and other first responders. However, it does include schools and for that reason, MASB opposes it.

We are working with the bill sponsor to address our concerns with schools being included, as we already negotiate things like class size and support staff needs. We are hopeful that we can get schools removed from this newly mandated subject.

Further hearings on the bill are expected next week.

School Board Members go Behind the Scenes 

On Wednesday, more than 50 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 Senate Appropriations PreK-12 Subcommittee, Sen. Camilleri (D-Brownstown Township), Chair of the House Appropriations School Aid and Education Subcommittee, Rep. Weiss (D-Oak Park), and the Minority Vice-Chair of the House Appropriations School Aid and Education Subcommittee, Rep. DeBoer (R-Holland). They covered topics from school safety, 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 MASB’s Assistant Director of Labor Relations and Legal Services, Dan Feinberg, on the newly passed PERA laws affecting collective bargaining, followed by a presentation from the Michigan Department of Education on the new free meals for all students program. MDE emphasized the need to still get parents to fill out the education benefit forms as the information on income levels affects so much more than just free and reduced lunch.

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 spring! 

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