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Under the Dome - April 2, 2013

Education Conference Committee meets

The education conference committee met twice today - the first time to simply review what bills are in conference and the second time to begin work on finding common ground.

In the House/Senate Education Conference Committee, the bills are SB 128 (tech college incentive program), HB 2261 (flexibility in using unencumbered balances), HB 2319 (the innovative districts act), and HB 2349 (requiring audits of a few districts each year).

The Conference Committee today agreed on the Senate version of SB 128 which was the bill in its original form. The House had added another bill to it.

As they began discussion of HB 2261, House Chair Kasha Kelley asked to roll two other House bills into it. The bills she proposed were HB 2222, a change in bullying policies for schools, and HB 2280, the bill mandating a "celebrate freedom week." Both bills passed the House but were not considered in the Senate. The more controversial bill is celebrate freedom week. Senate Chair Abrams offered to accept the bullying bill but not the celebrate freedom week bill. There was a lot of back-and-forth with no resolution when the committee broke up to return to the floor.

They will meet again tomorrow at 9:00 am.

Meeting tomorrow at 8:00 am will be the House Ed Budget/Senate Education Conference Committee. They will consider SB 23, the extension of the 20 mill property tax levy for schools to which the House added HB 2003 mandating a 10% LOB for all districts and including a capital outlay state aid certification requirement which will cost some districts a lot of money making the bill problematic in the House form.

Also up for consideration will be SB 171 (uniform financial accounting and reporting) and HB 2109 (second count date for military students). The House added a minor clarifying amendment to SB 171 while the Senate added a minor technical amendment to HB 2109.

Finally, they have Senate Sub for HB 2104, the retention of struggling readers bill. The bill has only been heard in the Senate where it was dramatically modified from its original form. It had been a mandatory 3rd grade retention policy but is now a 1st grade retention recommendation bill limited to low performing school districts.

There are several other bills still out there that have passed on chamber and are awaiting action by the other. We will report on those if they rise up in the next few days.

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