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Capitol Insider

March 23, 2017

RESTED FROM SPRING BREAK?          

            May your spring break have invigorated you to take up your mantel and call your state representative and state senator.  It’s down to the wire on bills and your ACTION is needed.  It is impossible for me to cover everything you might want to know.  I’ll do my best to give you the latest on the bills below.  If you want to know more, please go to the Legislative website, enter the bill number in the proper box on the upper right side to read the entire bill(s).  You need only enter numbers; you do not have to designate HB or SB.  Tip of the day – also read the “fiscal note” as it provides some clarity at times.

 

READY? HERE WE GO

House bills in the Senate:

 

HB 1001        Bill is in the Senate Appropriations Committee.  Testimony on amendments is being taken.  The bill is expected to be released on March 31.  Without a doubt it will go to conference committee. In the House version of the bill, only $1.1 million was allocated to education in the first year of the budget and $1.7 million in the second year.  We feel the funding is too low. Also, changes were made to the complexity index leaving many districts with less funding specifically intended for high risk students.

 

HB 1003        This is aka the ILEARN bill or the ISTEP replacement bill.  It’s in Senate Ed, has been heard, is expected to be amended and voted upon at the committee’s final hearing on March 29th.  The main issue we have with it is that the teacher evaluation has been left intact and connected to the test!  Even the ISTEP Replacement Panel recommended that the two be de-coupled.  ESSA does not require the connection and in fact prohibits the use of a test for purposes other than for which it is intended.  We have asked committee members to offer an amendment de-coupling those and provided language for that purpose.  Call members of Senate Ed.

 

HB 1004        Pre-K bill that was stripped of the voucher language in Senate Ed and amended with the Senate’s version (SB 276) of pre-K language without vouchers.  There is one piece that is troublesome – it now includes $1 million of the $16 million to be used for “In-Home Early Education.”  The bill passed out of Senate Appropriations today and will go to the floor for 2nd reading.  May end up in conference committee.

 

HB 1005        Superintendent of Public Instruction appointment bill.  This is being heard Monday morning in Senate Rules & Legislative Procedure committee chaired by Senate President Long.  Call members of the Senate Rules & Legislative Procedure committee now.

 

HB 1007        The Education Course Access Program bill passed out of Senate Ed on a party line vote.  Some amendments were offered to call for a pilot and data collection to provide appropriate assessment of the program’s value; another asked to include background checks for those on the other end of the computer who would be teaching students as well as to keep this program in the public provider, not private provider, realm.  Sen. Melton’s amendments failed with votes down party line.

 

HB 1009        School Financial Management.   In Senate Appropriations today, Amendment #16 was voted into the bill.  Remember the intent of the bill was to remove those “silos” that kept us from being able to use money that wasn’t specifically for salaries and benefits.  This bill proposes to offer flexibility.  We understand the intent, but know there are bound to be some glitches – like the flexibility being on only one side of a bargaining table. The amendment improves the bill substantially.  First it moves the establishment date to January 1, 2019.  It provides that the general fund money be taken in total into the “education” part of the new funds, and that transfer is not revenue that would have limited the ability to include it in bargaining.  Several specific accounts had been deleted, but the amendment restores those.  One of those is the Rainy Day Fund.  Essentially there will be an ‘education’ fund and an ‘operations’ fund. 

 

HB 1463        This pensions bill opens up an opt-in provision for new hires to choose to use a defined contribution (DC) plan rather than our traditional defined benefit (DB) fund for retirement accounts.  We have objected for many reasons:  who amongst us was thinking about a retirement account when we were first hired?  The average DC total – get that TOTAL – is about $18,000 (one time) as opposed to an annual (yearly) $17,500 for a DB.  And, to make matters worse, the bill was amended to take out language that would have allowed a 3 year window to change your mind.  CAMEL’S TENT ALERT:  he gets his nose under the tent and the next thing you know, the default will be a DC.  The point was made by Indiana Retired Teachers Association president Tom Mellish that no one – active or retired – teacher, firefighter, police, state employee – no one has ever asked for this to be in our law.  Bill is headed to Senate floor and will go to conference committee.  You can have an effect.  Call YOUR senator.

 

HB 1537        This is the 13th check bill.  It passed out of committee 10-0.  Of course we supported and recommended/suggested they look at a COLA in the future.  It will have been a decade since one has been provided.  It’s kind of like a stipend (13th ck) vs. a raise on the base.

        

Senate Bills in the House:

 

SB 407                       Let’s vilify the unions and open the door for non-union entities to gather information that is already available in every superintendent’s office in the state.  Nasty bill that we call a “union busting” bill.  I think this one has been on every Capitol Insider list since day one.  Last week I asked you to contact every member of the House Ed committee.  If you did, they didn’t listen.  Imagine.  This passed out of committee on a party line vote.  NOW, PLEASE CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE.  Do it now.  I am trying to get an appointment with the author to see if she will accept any amendments, if not, supporters on House Ed will carry them anyway.  I have not gotten a call back from Sen. Houchin.  I stood outside her committee today hoping to catch her, but the committee went on longer than I had time to wait.  This is on the House Floor on 2nd reading.  It is not being called today.  It may be called Monday.  Please, please ask your representative to vote NO on this bill.  Then follow up to see how he/she voted.

 

SB 409                       Collective Bargaining – this bill delays start of “formal bargaining” to September 15.  The intent is to wait until we have actual numbers.  All other dates have been extended as well.  You know, this is okay and we can still “informally bargain” whenever, but collective bargaining should NOT be so restrictive.  We need to work for collective bargaining that helps us provide better working conditions for teachers which we all know equals the learning conditions for our students.  It’s a high hill to climb; let the journey begin.

 

SB 498                       Teacher compensation is the only truly good bill I can think of at this moment.  It clarifies the intent of legislative language from the past as it changes a factor for salary compensation from “attainment” of additional content degrees or credit hours to “possession” of….  Remember the “attainment” interpretation was by IEERB who will coming in to tell teachers (SB 407) how to change or decertify their exclusive representative (union).  And they’ll do it in a neutral way.  Ya, right.

 

            That’s it for this week.  Please get involved.  It wouldn’t hurt to have your spouse, best friend, Mom (who can resist when Mom calls?), your neighbor – get everyone you know to call their state legislators  – flood the phones of legislators to get them to vote in support of public education and public school teachers. 

 

Please, please, please, if you need more information or we can help in any way, contact your state staff representative: Rick Matysak (rmatysak@aftindiana.org), Justin Oakley (oakleyj@aftindiana.org), Sally Sloan (sjsloan@aftindiana.org).  Erin Suttle, administrative assistant can help direct your questions as well: assistant@aftindiana.org

 

HELPFUL LINKS

 

·        AFT Indiana web site: http://in.aft.org/

·        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.

 

CALENDAR

 

·        April 6 – Last day of 3rd readings in House & Senate before conference committees begin

·        April 21 – Legislature must adjourn by statute; special sessions can be called

·        May 5-6  – AFT Indiana annual convention; Hammond, IN

Local Leaders: Please pay attention to the deadlines within your convention

call packet.  If you need information on those,

contact Erin Suttle at assistant@aftindiana.org or 800-732-1476.

 

Sally J Sloan

Executive Director

AFT Indiana, AFL-CIO

445 N. Pennsylvania, Suite 510

Indianapolis, IN 46204

317-299-5395. ext. 301

800-732-1476, ext. 301