MEA lobbyists working proactively on positive bills to help school employees and students
One of the many advantages of MEA membership is having an organized and powerful voice for teachers, education support professionals and higher education employees.
To that end, MEA staff lobbyists are working closely with state legislators, MEA members and community leaders to advance several pieces of legislation that would have a positive impact on Michigan’s public schools:
- Senate Bill 541, introduced by Sen. David Robertson, R-Grand Blanc Township, would disallow a school district’s contributions toward retiree health care from being counted toward the cap on total health care premiums. The state Department of Treasury currently interprets the law as requiring retiree health care costs to be counted toward districts’ limits. The bill unanimously passed the Senate on Oct. 8 and is before the House.
- Senate Bill 542, introduced by Sen. Bruce Caswell, R-Hillsdale, clarifies that employees with a single dependent constitute a family, not a couple, thus raising the amount districts are allowed to pay toward their health care. The bill also raises the member-spouse cap to $13,455, and allows that amount to be adjusted each year. Finally, Senate Bill 542 mandates that cash-in-lieu payments to employees who decline coverage not be counted toward a district’s cap. As with the related Senate Bill 541, the bill passed the Senate on Oct. 8 and awaits action in the House.
- Senate Bill 74, introduced by Sen. Glenn Anderson, D-Westland, would require school districts to adopt policies to combat cyber bullying and allow the state Department of Education to collect bullying statistics from school districts. The bill was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee and is now before the full Senate.
- House Bills 4352-4353 would require schools to carry two EpiPens, which deliver pre-measured dosages of epinephrine to combat anaphylactic shock, and have one or two school staff trained in administering the treatments, depending on the size of the school. The bills passed the House on Oct. 23 and await action in the Senate.
· Senate Bill 374, introduced by Sen. Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan, would establish a new tip line and an online interface to allow students and school employees to anonymously report safety threats. The bill, dubbed the “Student Safety Act,” is before the Senate Appropriations Committee.
- House Bill 4493, introduced by state Rep. Klint Kesto, R-Commerce Township, would amend a current law that specifies who is required to report suspected child abuse directly to authorities. The bill would add to that list anyone employed by a public or private school. As is stands, the law only requires teachers, parapros and administrators to report cases of abuse. The bill is currently sitting in the state House.
Finally, MEA members and staff are working on legislation to implement the Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness’ recommendations for creating a new statewide teacher evaluation system (see related article).