Legislative Fall Preview

Jennifer Smith

By Jennifer Smith, MASB Director of Government Relations

DashBoard, Sept. 9, 2015

As the summer winds to a close we take a look at the issues we expect to see the Legislature address this fall. The House and Senate are scheduled to resume their normal session this week. As the Legislature begins work again, News From the Capitol will also resume its weekly updates, but always feel free to contact us if you have questions.

Teacher and Administrator Evaluation

SB 103 passed the Senate back in May. This bill would establish a teacher and administrator evaluation system. It has had one hearing in the House Committee on Education but now is on hold as the House looks to make changes to the Senate-passed bill. At this time, we are hoping that the issue will be brought back up for discussion and passage yet this month, but timing is very unclear.

Third Grade Reading Retention Bills

HB 4822 addresses reading proficiency by third grade, beginning with interventions in Kindergarten. The House Committee on Education is expected to start hearings on the bill this week. We expect this issue to move quickly in September and for there to be some changes and compromises before it is brought up for a vote.

Road Funding

After initially passing the House on June 10 and the Senate passing a vastly different version on July 1, lawmakers are once again at an impasse on finding a solution to Michigan’s crumbling roads. Conference committees were established to discuss the differences in the House- and Senate-passed plans, but so far, no agreement has been reached between the two chambers and the Governor.

Requiring a Physical Presence to Vote

HB 4182 states that a member of a public body must be physically present to be able to vote. Under the bill, if a person on a publically elected board was to participate in a meeting by phone, Skype or some other remote system, they would not be allowed to vote. If they did cast a vote, the meeting would be considered to have violated the Open Meetings Act. The bill is currently before the Senate Committee on Elections and Government Reform and there does seem to be some willingness to work on the concerns MASB and others have raised.

School Social Media Policies

Rep. Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor) has introduced HB 4791, which would require districts to adopt a social media policy that provides clear expectations on appropriate behavior and interactions between teachers and students, but does not dictate what the policy specifically needs to say. MASB supports this legislation and encourages all schools to implement a social media policy if they have not done so already (a sample is available from MASB upon request). We hope that this will see quick action in the House this fall.

Detroit Public Schools

Last week, seven draft bills from the Governor’s office were published in the Detroit Free Press that would target financially distressed school districts and create “empowerment zones” and new educational districts controlled by an “education manager.” This is the first proposed plan we’ve seen since the Governor first announced his vision for overhauling Detroit Public Schools in April. While the bills have not been formally introduced, there are rumors we could see a version of them introduced this month with hearings to quickly follow. At first glance, the bills raise a number of serious concerns. MASB will continue to monitor the issue and keep you updated as it progresses.

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