Capitol update: What you need to know this week

Michigan senate

Lawmakers continue work this week on anti-collective bargaining legislation that would also dismantle teacher tenure.

House Bills 4625-4628 are on the agenda of the Senate Education Committee, which meets Wednesday. The bills previously passed in the House of Representatives. MEA members and staff have been working non-stop with legislators on a possible compromise that addresses what some say is the real problem -- the length of time it currently takes to dismiss tenured teachers.

Contact your state senator immediately to talk about this four-bill package. Your senators especially need to hear from rank-and-file school employees -- their constituents -- about how these bills will affect students and the community.

For example, you can share:

These bills will lead to high staff turnover, possibly in the middle of the school year and every year. Constant staff turnover doesn't help students, who do better when schools employ a stable, consistent workforce.

Experience in the classroom matters, according to credible research, which shows that a teacher's experience has positive effects on student achievement.

Students need to learn in clean and safe schools. Collective bargaining allows all education employees to advocate for the best environment for their students; limiting collective bargaining takes away their voice.

Ask your senator to consider MEA's proposal to streamline the tenure process. Lawmakers are trying to finish this legislation by early July, so stay tuned for urgent developments.

Also this week:

The House Oversight, Reform, and Ethics Committee will meet Tuesday to take up several bills dealing with public employee health care. The agenda includes Senate Joint Resolution C, and House Bills 4572, 4770, and 4771.

House Bill 4572 calls for a hard cap on public employer contributions to health insurance. House Bills 4770 and 4771 are new bills dealing with medical benefits for domestic partners of public employees -- House Bill 4770 would prohibit public employers from providing medical benefits for domestic partners and House Bill 4771 would prohibit public employees from negotiating domestic partner benefits.

MEA opposes these bills because local school districts should decide through collective bargaining how best to provide health insurance to employees and their dependents. Contact your state representative now to urge a NO vote on these bills!

The House Education Committee meets Wednesday to consider House Bills 4700 and 4752. Both bills deal with public employee health insurance -- House Bill 4700 requires public schools to be the policyholder for employees' health insurance plan and to require schools to have detailed claims data.

The House Fiscal Agency reported that this legislation will not save the state any money and would lead to higher health care costs for some districts. Districts with a history of low health care costs could potentially save money through competitive bidding, the agency said.