This week is expected to be another busy one in Lansing, as lawmakers push to pass several bills before a long summer recess. The agenda includes legislation dealing with collective bargaining, teacher tenure, and public employee health care.
Lawmakers could take final action on a four-bill package to gut collective bargaining and tenure laws. House Bills 4625-4628 already passed the House and are pending in the Senate.
MEA supports efforts to overhaul teacher tenure as outlined in Senate Bill 503, sponsored by Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw. The bill is an alternative to the House bills, which go beyond teacher tenure to take away collective bargaining of many new subjects, including evaluation and merit pay.
With a vote of 58-51, the House approved HB 4572 which would place a hard cap on the amount an employer could spend on employees’ health care coverage.
Starting in 2012, an employer could spend no more than $15,000 on family coverage; $11,000 for two-person coverage; and $5,500 for an individual. The state treasurer would increase those caps each year based on the change to the medical care component of the Consumer Price Index.
If a school district paid more than the amount legislated, they would face a 10 percent reduction in their state aid funding.
Yesterday the House passed HB 4087 which ends legislative retiree health care for legislators elected after 2007. Under this legislation, future lawmakers and most of those currently serving in the Legislature would no longer be eligible for the benefit.
PA 312, the state’s binding arbitration law, could undergo dramatic changes with the passage of HB 4522 yesterday. PA 312 has been used since 1969 to settle labor disputes in municipal police and fire departments.
Sandi Jacobs, Vice President of the National Council on Teacher Quality, a teacher reform group, testified before the House Education Committee and urged legislators to take their time implementing any new evaluation system for Michigan teachers.
On Wednesday, Sen. Roger Kahn (R-Saginaw) introduced SB 503, an alternative tenure reform proposal to HB 4625-4628, the four-bill package passed by the House. MEA supports this new Senate proposal.
Unlike the House package, MEA supports SB 503 because it is true tenure reform as outlined in our A+ Agenda. The bill addresses the real problem with tenure--the length and cost of the current process to dismiss ineffective tenured teachers. By contrast, the House package does nothing to address these issues, instead focusing on taking away collective bargaining rights from Michigan educators.
The state House Oversight, Reform, and Ethics Committee today passed legislation that would limit how much public employers can pay for employee health care.
Under House Bill 4572, public employers could pay up to $5,000 for single coverage, $10,000 for two-person coverage, and $15,000 for family coverage.
MEA opposes the bill because local units of government, including schools and universities, should decide through collective bargaining how to manage health care costs. The bill offers a one-size-fits-all approach to employee health care, without regard for regional differences in costs or availability of physicians or health care facilities.
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.