Bill Deadline Approaches in Seventh Week of Session

House hears many bills as Senate slows down


First Bill Deadline on Friday, March 25

As the legislature races towards its first bill deadline of March 25, each body has a distinctly different approach. The House continues to hear as many bills as possible, adding additional hearings to accommodate. The Senate, on the other hand, is slowing down. This pace is evidenced by the Senate Education committee that is currently scheduled to hear a handful of bills on Monday but likely not much, if anything, beyond that. Chair Chamberlain said last Wednesday that he’d be “trying to wrap things up soon.”

House Education – Prep Time, New Graduation Requirements

In the House Education Policy committee last week, the members considered a bill to modify teacher prep time and another to create a personal finance graduation requirement. MREA opposes both of these proposals, and testifiers at the hearing communicated that opposition on our behalf. Minority member Rep. Bennett pushed back against the teacher prep time bill, countering the proposal with a request to examine the overwhelming amount of required paperwork, especially for SPED teachers. Bennett said that forcing increased teacher prep time upon schools, without dealing with the root of the problem, would only push them into a worse situation. The second proposal, a personal finance graduation requirement, evoked a similar refrain from minority members and testifiers: now is not the time to put additional burdens onto our schools.

Senate Education – Private School Scholarships for SPED

The Senate Education committee considered SF3656, the latest attempt to establish a scholarship program using public dollars to send students to private schools. This bill creates vouchers specifically for students with disabilities. MREA, among many other statewide education associations, formally opposed the legislation. The debate between Senators was the all-too familiar parent choice vs. don’t take money from public schools. The bill was laid over for possible inclusion in the omnibus bill.

Senate Education also heard a proposal to modify the existing lead testing requirements for school drinking water. SF3956 creates a remediation plan requirement and opens up LTFMR as a mechanism for any school that does find lead to cover costs. Chair Chamberlain asserted that he wanted to avoid any unfunded mandates and that he won’t move forward with this bill unless the funds are attached to it. The bill was sent to the Senate’s HHS committee for further review, but time is running out.

This week in Education Committees

Senate Education – Civics, Winding down

SF2952 requires PELSB to report on the supply and demand of licensed teachers, as well as teacher shortages, every other year.

SF1417 deletes some obsolete language in the general education aid calculation.

SF4116 makes adjustments to the education forecast.

SF3734 authorizes a transfer of levy authority for Grand Rapids ISD 318.

SF1316 modifies the civics test requirement, including allowable uses and reporting requirements.

House Education Policy – Omnibus Bill Wednesday

The committee will start the week with a presentation from MDE on their BOLD Literacy Plan.

Dubbed the Student Data Privacy Act, HF3141, creates new student privacy protections for “technology providers,” i.e. companies that contract with schools to provide technological devices (laptops, tablets, etc.) for student use and that receive educational data as a result of that contract. It also imposes new student privacy protections for school-issued technological devices.

HF3937 allows school boards to enter into transportation contracts with nonpublic schools.

For its last hearing of the week, Education Policy will walk through the House Education Omnibus bill, and provide a chance for public testimony on the same. No action will be taken on the bill.

House Education Finance – Student Support Services

HF2031 provides grant funding for high school students to complete emergency medical service courses.

HF3891 creates a legislative working group to examine the compensatory revenue calculations.

HF2742 expands the age window for public school enrollment in certain circumstances.

HF4424 increases the transition aid provided to consolidating school districts.

HF4004 modifies the ABE aid growth factor, and increases the maximum contact hour rate.

HF3979 creates mental health grants for setting 4 sites, these grants may be used for professional development.