Issues and legislation

Information on the current legislation and legislative news.

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Education Reform


 

Senate passes SB 137; Dems call it “Republican license to bully”

On a 26-11 vote, the Senate passed SB 137 that requires schools districts to have an anti-bullying policy. The bill sparked heated debate, with Democrats criticizing the bill for the loopholes that allow bullying to still happen. Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) is sponsor of the bill.

As passed, the bill provides no real protection against bullying. It allows bullying comments which stem from religious beliefs; it lists no protections for homosexual or disabled students; and it excludes cyber-bullying.

Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) blasted the bill for having holes big enough “to drive a Mack truck through and was “worse than doing nothing.” In passionate support of her “no” vote on the bill, Whitmer called the legislation a “Republican license to bully.”

Senate Committee hears testimony on HB 4059

The Senate Reforms, Restructuring and Reinventing Committee heard testimony today on HB 4059 which would prohibit a school district from entering into a contract that pays union officials for time spent conducting union business. 

Senate Committee takes up HB 4059

This Wednesday, the Senate Reforms, Restructuring and Reinventing Committee will take up HB 4059 which would prohibit a school district from entering into a contract that pays union officials for time conducting union business. The bill was introduced by Rep. Marty Knollenberg (R-Troy). Supporters of the bill say that money should be going into the classroom and not into the pockets of union officials and union dues should fund union activities

Senate passes so-called education reform bills

Today, the Senate passed SB 619, 621-623, 709, and 710—all part of the so-called education reform package. The bills passed on party-line votes with SB 619 barely squeaking by.  The bills have been referred to the House Education Committee. Only SB 624—mandating schools of choice—is left after tie bars to the bill were broken.

Despite testimony and research showing cyber schools are not an effective alternative to traditional schools, SB 619 removes all limitations on cyber schools. Democrats offered five amendments—one to limit the amount of state aid a cyber school student would receive to 50 percent; another to require a cyber school website that included management and third-party vendor contracts; and another to make the student/teacher ratio be equivalent to that of public schools—but all of them failed. Sen. Hoon-Young Hopgood (D-Taylor) chastised the Senate for “putting on the blinders” about the effectiveness of cyber schools.

School employee relatives barred from school board

Citing a blatant conflict of interest, Sen. Joe Hune (R-Hamburg) last week introduced SB 773 which would prohibit the spouse, child, parent or sibling of school employees from serving on the district’s school board. 

Senate committee passes substitutes to so-called education reform package

After hearing brief testimony from community college representatives on SB 622-623 and SB 709-10—all of which expand dual enrollment—the Senate Education Committee passed a series of amendments to SB 620, 623, 709-10 in the so-called education reform package.

Amended version of SB 618 passes Senate; other pieces of education reform package moving

The full Senate passed a version of SB 618 by a 20-18 vote this afternoon that removed the cap on charter schools. 

Senate vote ends lifetime lawmaker retiree health care benefits

A 37-1 Senate vote today ended retiree health care for lawmakers not vested in the plan by 2013.

Contact your state Senators now to oppose SB 618-624

There is a good chance that portions of the Senate “education reform” package, SB 618-624 will come up for a vote soon. 

Contact your state Senators now to oppose SB 618

Senate Bill 618, which eliminates the cap on charter schools and allows for the outsourcing of teachers, was reported out of the Senate Education Committee and is now headed to the floor of the full Senate for a vote -- perhaps as early as next week.

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