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Lame Duck Wraps Up Fairly Quietly

Jennifer Smith

By Jennifer Smith, MASB Director of Government Relations

DashBoard, Dec. 21, 2016

The Legislature wrapped up the 2015-2016 session last Thursday. There is one day left, Dec. 28, to officially mark the end, but no other work will be done on that day. Any bills that have not been passed by both the House and the Senate and sent to the Governor will have to be reintroduced in the new session in January. The 2017-2018 session will begin on Jan. 11 with the swearing in of all members to office.

The following is a recap of some of the bigger issues that saw passage over the last couple weeks. More information on what did and didn’t pass during lame duck is available in the Dec. 9 and 16 issues of News From the Capitol.

Zero Tolerance Law Flexibility

Legislation to give flexibility in the zero tolerance laws, House Bills 5618-5621 and 5693-5695, saw approval from both the Senate and House, and is now headed to the Governor for his consideration and approval. The bills list factors a district must consider before suspending or expelling a student. For years, districts and MASB have fought for additional flexibility when it comes to state-mandated expulsion. We are proud that we were able to help push this important change across the finish line. Once signed, the bills will go into effect on Aug. 1, 2017. More information is available in the Dec. 14 issue of DashBoard.

Restraint and Seclusion

House Bills 5409-5417 passed the Senate overwhelmingly and they are now headed to the Governor for his consideration. As you know, these bills limit the use of seclusion and restraint in schools. They do allow for emergency seclusion and restraint on a very limited basis to protect the dignity and safety of the pupil or others. This was a priority for Lt. Gov. Brian Calley who presided over the vote in the Senate. When signed, the law will go into effect on March 30.

Comprehensive Energy Reform Package

On the last day of session, both the House and Senate finally agreed to major changes on how the state regulates energy, including the construction of new power plants, how customer choice is managed and increasing the percentage of electricity that must be generated from renewable sources. Most importantly, the deal preserves electric choice savings for schools and preserves the choice queue for schools waiting to get into the program for the foreseeable future. MASB is pleased to see that a compromise was reached and that these cost savings for our schools are able to continue.

Allowing Schools to Stock Opioid Antidotes

Senate Bills 805 and 806  authorize the prescription and dispensation of an opioid antidote, such as naloxone, to a school board. They also allow a school employee to possess and administer it for an opioid overdose if the employee is a licensed registered professional nurse or appropriately trained. These bills come with recommendation from Michigan’s Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force. The bills were passed unanimously by both the Senate and the House so we fully expect the Governor to sign them.

New Curriculum Requirements

Two bills were passed this week adding new requirements in state content curriculum. Both were sent to the Governor.

House Bill 4136 will require that the content of the U.S. citizenship test be included in the high school social studies content standards and be tested in the high school social studies portion of the M-STEP. The Michigan Department of Education is already in the process of revising Michigan's social studies content standards and test, so this can be included during that process to ensure a seamless transition for schools.

Senate Bill 647 will require that Michigan’s model core curriculum for health education include instruction in CPR and AED usage for grades 7 through 12. 

Reduced Reporting Requirements

Senate Bills 754-767 revise outdated language and provisions in law to reduce the number of reports a school district has to file with the state. The legislation states that a district would not have to report information that is already maintained by the Michigan Department of Education or the Center for Educational Performance and Information. It also aims to reduce state reports that were started because of federal mandates that no longer exists. Nearly all of the legislation passed unanimously and is now on its way to the Governor where we expect his signature.

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