New Laws Affecting the 2015-2016 School Year

Jennifer Smith

By Jennifer Smith, MASB Director of Government Relations

DashBoard, Jan. 21, 2015

Since our last update on public acts, the Legislature passed a few new laws that will affect preK-12 schools. Some have already gone into effect and others will soon. The following is a brief description of what’s new from the last few months.

Transportation Funding Package

HJR UU would raise the sales tax by 1 percent and eliminate the sales tax on gasoline at the pump. This resolution, which will go on the ballot in May for voter approval, is the crux of the transportation funding agreement. Look for more details on this package in the next issue of DashBoard.

Public Act 293 of 2014—Foreign Language Date Change in MMC

When the changes to the Michigan Merit Curriculum were signed into law in June of last year, it changed the effective date for the foreign language requirement affecting the graduating class of 2015. This was not the intent of the law, so this bill was passed to make it clear that the foreign language requirement would apply beginning with pupils who entered third grade in 2006 (graduating class of 2016). This law has already taken effect.

Public Acts 476-477 of 2014—Financial Reporting

These laws deal with financial accountability for schools. PA476 will require districts to provide a district’s annual operating budget, personnel costs and other specific expenditures on its website. It will also have to post written policies regarding the procurement of supplies, materials and equipment, and either the district’s accounts payable check register or a statement of the total amount of reimbursed expenses for the most recent school year. PA477 would include school districts and public school academies under the law restricting the use of public funds that currently covers ISDs.

Also, as part of the transportation funding package, PA476 includes an additional $40 million for at-risk programs.

These two laws went into effect on Jan. 12, 2015.

Public Act 478 of 2014—Cyberbullying

This law would require schools to specifically include cyberbullying as a form of bullying in their policies. It also requires schools to report annually to the Department of Education any instances of bullying. This law will go into effect in March 2015.

Public Acts 553-554 of 2014—Sales Tax on Internet Sales

As part of the agreement on the transportation funding package, these laws extend the sales tax to purchases made on the Internet. This will only apply to businesses that have a physical presence in the state. These laws go into effect on Oct. 1, 2015.

Public Act 555 of 2014—School Funding Adequacy Study

Also as part of the transportation agreement, this law requires the state to do a study to determine the true cost of education. This study is required to be completed within one year of the effective date of this law (which will be in March of this year).

Public Act 563 of 2014—FOIA Reforms

This law makes changes to the Freedom of Information Act. It caps fees that public bodies can charge for filling a request, as well as tightens deadlines to respond. This law takes effect July 1, 2015.

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