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Under the Dome - March 1, 2013


Legislature hits "turn-around"

They are home for four days!
The Senate finished up their work on Thursday, meeting "pro forma" on Friday and leaving for home early. The House had a relatively full calendar of bills for Friday including two education bills up for debate.

Among the last actions of the day were final action votes on two educations bills in the House:

House Bill 2280 mandates a "celebrate freedom week." This bill was apparently proposed out of the mistaken impression that schools don't teach students about the constitution and our form of representative democracy. It would require a full week devoted to these studies every year in grades 3- 12. There was a long debate featuring those who said schools were already teaching these concepts and another mandate was not necessary and those who said schools were already teaching these concepts but needed to be told to teach them. It passed on a vote of 95 to 25.

House Bill 2222 deals with school district policies on bullying. The bill specifies that bullying policies must cover actions by a staff member towards a student, another staff member or a parent or by a student towards another student, a staff member or a parent. KNEA believes the bill might actually narrow bullying policies instead of broadening them as the proponents hoped to do. The bill passed on a vote of 119 to 1.

These bills now go to the Senate for consideration.

The Collective Bargaining Battle
House Bill Sub for HB 2027 has been sent back to the House Commerce Committee and scheduled for a hearing on Wednesday.

In the meantime, the list of School Boards, individual School Board members, and Superintendents coming forward to oppose the bill and support their teachers continues to grow.

The Lawrence USD 497 School Board was the first to pass a resolution opposing changes to the professional negotiations act.

The Emporia USD 253 School Board passed a similar resolution.

School Board members Patrick Wood (Topeka USD 501) and Tom Brungardt (Geary County USD 475) both appeared and spoke as individuals at the KNEA press conference yesterday.

Kansas City, Kansas USD 500 Superintendent Cynthia Lane sent her Chief of Staff to the press conference to represent her. David Smith also answered press questions during the event.

Buhler USD 313 Superintendent Dan Stiffler co-wrote a letter to the editor with Buhler NEA President Bret Gillmore in support of collective bargaining and other teacher rights.

Shawnee Heights USD 450 Superintendent Martin Stessman released a letter opposing changes to collective bargaining.

On behalf of all Kansas public school teachers, we send our heartfelt thanks to our friends who serve on local school boards or work as our administrative colleagues for standing up for the teaching profession and the men and women who make miracles happen in Kansas classrooms every day.

Where are other bills?

Senate Bills

Senate Bill 31 prohibiting public sector unions from engaging in political activities if they collect money via payroll deduction. This bill was not acted upon in committee and is now dead.

Senate Bill 44, requiring services for students diagnosed with dyslexia. The bill had a hearing after which the Committee decided not to work the bill. It is now dead.

Senate Bill 103 changing the way at-risk funding is distributed. The bill had a hearing in Senate Education but was not acted upon. It is now dead.

Senate Bill 104, the internet protection act, passed the full Senate on a vote of 40 to 0 and has been referred to the House Education Committee.

Senate Bill 131, dealing with the use of capital outlay funds, had a hearing in the Senate Education Committee but was not acted upon.

Senate Bill 133, enacting the local activities budget. This bill has not had a hearing.

Senate Bill 169, mandatory retention of third graders. The bill had a hearing in the Senate Education Committee and was voted down.

Senate Bill 171, budget reporting changes, passed the full Senate on a vote of 40 to 0 and has been sent to the House.

Senate Bill 172, prohibiting the use of Carnegie units. A hearing was scheduled and subsequently cancelled. The bill is now dead.

Senate Bill 176, enacting the coalition of innovative districts, was passed by the Committee and sent to the full Senate. It has not yet be voted on by the full Senate.

House Bills
House Bill 2023 prohibiting public sector unions from engaging in political activities if they collect money via payroll deduction. This bill passed the full House on a vote of 68 to 56 and was referred to the Senate Commerce Committee. The bill had a hearing in the Senate but no action has been taken to date.

House Bill 2123, prohibiting payroll deduction of union dues and mandatory collective bargaining. This bill did not get a hearing and is now dead.

House Bill 2221 granting insurance salesmen access to teacher emails, mailboxes, and meetings. The bill passed the full House on a vote of 71 to 53 and has been referred to the Senate Education Committee.

House Bill 2263 enacting special education vouchers. After a hearing in the House Education Committee, the bill was defeated in Committee. A motion to reconsider the bill failed. The bill is now dead.

House Bill 2289 prohibiting the use of common core standards. The bill has not had a hearing. The House Education Committee will be discussion common core standards next Wednesday.

House Bill 2306 requiring science teachers to teach climate change denial. This bill did not get a hearing and is now dead.

House Bill 2319 enacting the coalition of innovative districts. This bill passed out of committee and has not yet been voted on by the full House.

House Bill 2320 enacting a new charter school law has not yet had a hearing.

House Bill 2350, prohibiting schools from accepting federal education funds. This bill did not get a hearing and is now dead.

Note that some of these bills are still alive because they are from or in committees that are exempt from legislative time lines. Normally, a bill would have to pass the house of origin in order to be considered after turn around.

And what about school funding?
You've heard of Limbo, haven't you? Well, that's where school funding is now and will remain pending the outcome of a number of other financial decisions.

We have the Governor's budget recommendation which has flat school funding for this year and next year and a modest $14/pupil increase the following year. But this proposal is contingent upon action by the Appropriations and Ways and Means Committees, both chambers, and concurrent action on tax issues.

The Governor's proposal is wrapped up in the passage of his tax bill which includes certain tax increases (sales and the elimination of some deductions) to fill the hole created by his last tax bill. Unless the hole is filled, cuts will have to be made to state services and the Legislature may be forced to look at education cuts as part of the formula. Passage of those tax increases is not guaranteed.

Add to all of this the "pay-go" rules now in effect in both chambers under which no amendment may be offered to increase spending without a matching cut somewhere in the budget. A legislator cannot offer an amendment to increase school funding unless he/she includes a cut to pay for the increase in some other part of the budget. This essentially means that whatever comes out of the Appropriations and Ways and Means Committees will be the passed. It will then be up to a conference committee to work out the differences.

This will make for a challenging March - the real March Madness!

They are home! Talk to them!
The Legislature goes home for four days now providing you with plenty of opportunity to meet them back home and let them know what their constituents - and the educators in their communities - think of the actions taken (or not taken) so far.

Keep those emails and phone messages coming and find yourself of legislative forum to attend. Ask questions and put them on the public record.


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