Information on the current legislation and legislative news.
This week, the House Appropriations School Aid Subcommittee outlined how schools would qualify for Gov. Snyder’s funding bonuses and then got an earful from traditional and charter school representatives concerned that they might miss out on the extra money.
The Senate acted quickly on Wednesday to make sure graduate student research assistants wouldn’t have a say in whether they could unionize or not. SB 971 was introduced last week, passed on a party-line vote by the Government Operations Committee on Tuesday and passed on the Senate floor on a 26-12 party line vote on Wednesday.
When Gov. Snyder presents his budget proposal to the Legislature tomorrow, schools are expected to see a 2.8 to 3 percent increase in state funding—still not enough to make up for a $1 billion cut to schools last year so corporate special interests could enjoy a $1.8 billion tax cut.
This morning, the House Education Committee reported out SB 619-623 and 709-710 with amendments that differ from the original Senate-approved bills.
On a party line vote, the House Oversight, Reform and Ethics Committee passed on Tuesday House Bills 5023-5026, a package of anti-union bills meant to curtail the powers of labor unions:
HB 5023--fines striking public employees one day's pay and their union $5,000 for each day of the strike, expanding the penalties beyond the current rules that only apply to public school employees.
HB 5024--sets fines and restrictions on members and their unions for mass picketing.
HB 5025--requires an employee's annual written authorization to have their union dues deducted from their paycheck by employers.
HB 5026--eliminates the prohibition against employers advertising for strike breakers.
The House Oversight, Reform and Ethics Committee heard testimony this week on HB 5023-5026, a package of anti-union bills meant to curtail the powers of labor unions. HB 5025—which requires annual written consent from employees to have union dues deducted from their paychecks—was the topic of most of the testimony.
The House Oversight, Reform and Ethics Committee heard testimony Tuesday from union members who oppose HB 5023-5026, bills restricting union activities and punishing union members. And all of them pretty much said the same thing—the legislation is punitive, unnecessary, irrelevant and unconstitutional.
HB 5025, probably the most damaging piece of anti-union legislation in the package, requires an employee’s annual written authorization to have their union dues deducted from their paychecks. Supporters say this bill gives workers more opportunities to control whether money is collected for political activities or other functions—control workers already have, making this legislation just another attack on unions.
Union members repeatedly testified that PAC contributions do not come from dues; they are a voluntary contribution. They also stressed that no worker in Michigan is forced to join a union. Workers can opt to pay their fair share which only pays for the salary and benefits the union has negotiated for all workers.
On Tuesday, Gov. Snyder signed SB 618 into law lifting a 150-cap on university-sponsored charter schools. The bill is now Public Act 277.
The original bill was modified so that the cap is gradually lifted until 2015 when there will be no limit. Next year, the limit is 300 new charter schools and grows to 500 in 2014.
MEA opposed the bill on the grounds that lifting the cap robs traditional public schools of needed resources. The bill also lacked strict accountability standards for newly-created charter schools.
Legislature goes home for the holidays
After lifting the cap on charter schools, the Legislature finished its business for the year today without doing any more harm to public education, students and public education employees and their unions.
The Senate did not take up HB 4929, legislation to end payroll deduction for union dues, or any of the litany of other anti-union bills under consideration. And the House took no action on SB 619 (unlimited expansion of cyber schools). But rest assured the debate over further attacks on public education, unions and the middle class will restart in the New Year.
The Legislature will be back in session January 11, 2012. For now, there is peace in Michigan.
The pressure is building in the state House to pass SB 618, the bill allowing for unlimited expansion of charter schools. There are still several Republican representatives who are opposed to the bill's provisions that remove the cap on charters without increasing accountability measures. But they are under intense pressure to vote in favor of SB 618.
Call your state representative right away -- contact information can be found at http://bit.ly/sBEt9 . Urge them to vote no on SB 618. Tell them that unchecked expansion of charter schools will hurt your district and your students, siphoning even more resources away from our neighborhood schools.
Take action now!