SOME GOOD NEWS
First let me remind you that the session is almost half way through. That means nothing is in concrete yet. We do have some reason to celebrate!
Remember SB534 Special Ed Scholarship Account (a.k.a. Ed Savings Accounts –ESA – a.k.a. vouchers)? The bill was in Senate Ed this week. Chairman Kruse announced at the beginning of the hearing that the bill would not move. If people wanted to testify, he’d hear that, but no vote would be taken. Thank you, Sen. Kruse.
Then there was the anti-union bill that would have required union membership percent be posted on the IEERB web page and if membership were less than 51%, IEERB was to provide training on how to disaffiliate. Well, SB407 was voted down in the same Sen. Ed committee.
House Speaker Bosma announced that the session will end one week earlier (April 21 maybe) since a large convention is coming to Indy and all hotel rooms are taken. That news is a mixed bag. In what already seems like a marathon session, speed will pick up to meet the earlier deadline – but it will be over earlier!
THIS WEEK’S SUMMARY
In The House
Ways & Means released the House Republican version of the budget, HB 1001 Amendment #5). Please remember that this bill always changes drastically when the Senate gets it, then it changes again in conference committee. Looking at the elements of the bill as it came out of Ways & Means, at least you see some direction and have talking points. Overall increase in the total amount of state tuition (not individual districts) is only 1.1% in 2017-2018 and 1.7% in 2018-2019. Follow the link to find individual school runs.
The new ILEARN, HB1003, was amended during 2nd reading and will be on 3rd reading next week.
The voucher expanding version of Pre-K (HB1004) moved from the House, 61-34 in roll call 82, and is now in the Senate. Be sure to check the roll call vote to see how your representative voted. There is room for some thank yous and room for you to let your rep know he/she voted wrong. NO is the right vote on any voucher expansion.
Voting down the people’s voice, the House passed HB1005 that removes the people’s right to elect the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Rep. Pelath (D-9) offered an amendment to get an advisory vote from the public via referendum whether we-the-people want to elect the superintendent or let the governor appoint that office. The amendment was voted down. See the roll call on that.
Education Course Access Program, HB1007, was amended and moved to the 3rd reading calendar for next week.
HB1463, Teachers’ defined contribution plan, was heard in Labor committee on Tuesday. Again, we extend thanks to AFL-CIO Secretary/Treasurer Shawn Christ for standing in for AFT Indiana to oppose this legislation. The committee will vote Tuesday. If you haven’t already contacted the committee members, now would be a good time to do that. Ask them to oppose the bill.
In The Senate
Sen. Tallian (D-4) offered amendment #3 to SB179, the sister bill changing the position of Superintendent of Public Instruction from elected to appointed, that would have required even an appointed superintendent to have lived in Indiana for two years and had seven years public school experience as a superintendent, principal, or teacher. The amendment was defeated 13-37.
Two clarifications were made in SB498 authored by Sen. Raatz (R-27). First he changes the 33% of compensation allowable for training and experience to 33 1/3% then he changes language affecting a Masters degree from “attain” that indicated future tense to IEERB to “possess” allowing for those who hold a Masters already. The bill was just heard Wednesday and will be voted on next Wednesday. You might contact members of Senate Ed to ask them to vote YES on this bill.
Finally, a change in dates for collective bargaining in SB409, Sen. Houchin (R-47) is moving to the House. While the bill is helpful, perhaps, the House sponsor has a very anti-union voting record. This is cause for concern. As the bill passed out of Senate, the beginning of formal bargaining cannot begin before Sept. 15th. Then before Sept. 15th the DOE will provide an estimate of the general fund revenue available for bargaining in the school corporation from the school funding formula. If we don’t get the certified estimate within 30 days after the fall ADM, we can use the school corporation's estimate of the general fund revenue available based on the fall count of ADM. Mandatory factfinding is moved to Nov. 15th with a completion date of Feb. 15th.
A link to all bills being tracked by AFT Indiana as of today can be found here http://in.aft.org/files/actiontrack_report_1.27.16.pdf
Just because they are on this list does NOT mean they are active, moving bills. The deadline to file bills has now passed; we have more than 150 bills we are tracking. The senate released 10 lists of bills; the house released 13 lists. There could be more yet to actually see, but none can be newly filed. Of course, there are always amendments. And we’ve seen dead bills come back to life.
General Assembly page that will take you to almost anything you could want regarding the legislature and legislators: https://iga.in.gov/
Find your own state legislator: https://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/
Alphabetical list of ALL legislators: https://iga.in.gov/documents/fc38c5ab
All committees (then choose the one you want): http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2017/committees/
Senate daily committee calendar: http://iga.in.gov/documents/85381d73
House daily committee calendar: http://iga.in.gov/documents/d818d017
If you click on “legislation,” you can get to bills (http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2017/bills/), by number, by legislator, and by subject. Also resolutions are there.
When the House and Senate are in session, you can watch at https://iga.in.gov/, too.
Chalkbeat has plentiful education coverage.
February 20 – CELEBRATE PUBLIC EDUCATION at the Indiana Statehouse
February 27 & 28 – Last day of 3rd reading in House, Senate respectively before bills go to other chamber
March 18 – Presidents’ Council; AFT Indiana Exec Bd meeting; at the Clarion Hotel, Waterfront Parkway West Drive, Indianapolis.
April 12 & 13 – Last day of 3rd readings in House, Senate respectively before conference committees begin
April 21 (maybe April 22) – Legislature must adjourn by April 29 by statute; special sessions can be called
May 5-6 – AFT Indiana annual convention; Hammond, IN
Sally J Sloan