Issues and legislation

Information on the current legislation and legislative news.

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MEA members working closely with GOP senators on fixes to health insurance law

MEA members and their UniServ Directors are working hard at the local level to make much-needed fixes to state health insurance laws affecting school employees, and along the way are demonstrating that local lobbying and advocacy pays off.

House committee lifts ban on Common Core

The state House passed a resolution Thursday to lift the ban on implementing the Common Core State Standards, allowing the standards to go forward pending final approval from the Senate.

When the Legislature passed the Department of Education budget this summer, it inserted a ban on funding Common Core implementation — despite three years of preparation by teachers and school administrators.

Retired teacher sues state over pension tax

A retired teacher from Troy Public Schools has filed a class-action lawsuit against the State of Michigan for breaking its promise that school and state employees’ pensions wouldn’t be taxed.

Thomas R. Okrie made the irrevocable decision to retire from Troy Public Schools, effective July 1, 2000, and began collecting his pension through the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System.

Federal special education cuts softened, but only for this year

MEA urges state Legislature to take swift action on Student Safety Act

EAST LANSING, Mich., Sept. 19, 2013 — The Michigan Education Association is urging state lawmakers to take immediate action and pass the Student Safety Act, which would establish a new tip line and an online interface to allow students to anonymously report safety threats.

This week’s shooting near Lansing’s Sexton High School emphasizes the need for a comprehensive program to address threats to student safety.

The state Senate in June unanimously passed legislation to create the program, dubbed “OK-2-SAY.” Since then, Senate Bill 374 has sat dormant in the House Appropriations Committee.

 “Safety is one of the most pressing issues facing our schools, and indeed our society,” MEA President Steve Cook said. “Teachers and education support professionals can’t help students reach their full academic potential without a safe learning environment in place. MEA strongly supports the Student Safety Act and urges Michigan lawmakers to make its passage a top priority.”

Cook in Detroit News: Proposed evaluation system can work if it’s fully funded

A proposed new system for evaluating teachers can be a major step forward to achieving fair and reliable evaluations, but only if proper funding is in place, MEA President Steve Cook wrote in a column published Wednesday in the Detroit News.

State Senate finally passes Medicaid expansion, benefiting students and working families

After months of delay and political threats by Tea Party extremists, the state Senate on Tuesday narrowly passed a Medicaid expansion plan that will extend health care to about 400,000 low-income Michigan citizens.

Action alert: Congress set to vote on ESEA reauthorization next week

 

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote next week on re-authorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, known it is current incarnation as “No Child Left Behind,” and MEA members have an opportunity to make their voices heard.

Senate passes legislation to dissolve Buena Vista and Inkster school districts

The state Senate narrowly passed legislation Wednesday to dissolve the Buena Vista and Inkster school districts and leave employees in those dissolved districts without jobs in the receiving districts.

House rams through bills to dissolve school districts without transferring employees

House Education Committee Chairwoman Lisa Lyons, R-Alto, referred to school employees as “hogs” in a floor speech late Thursday night.

After the chair of the House Education Committee referred to school employees as “hogs,” Republicans in the state House rammed through legislation late Thursday night that would dissolve the Buena Vista and Inkster school districts and leave employees in those dissolved districts without the right to a job in the receiving districts.

Under House Bill 4813 and House Bill 4815, the state superintendent and state treasurer could decide to dissolve a troubled school district if the district fails to submit a deficit reduction plan or is financially incapable of implementing such a plan; lacks the funds necessary to run a K-12 program for a year of required instructional hours; and has 2,500 students or fewer and lost at least 10 percent of its students over the course of a year.

The legislation is crafted so that only Buena Vista and Inkster qualify for dissolution. Initially, it would have applied to any school district in the state, but MEA successfully fought to have it narrowed.

A dissolved district’s students and property would be transferred to one or more nearby districts.

School employees in the dissolved districts would not have rights to jobs in the receiving district — even though their district dissolved through no fault of their own. The legislation initially protected school employees in the dissolved districts by providing them with the right of first refusal for jobs in the receiving district, but an amendment by state Rep. Ray Franz, R-Onekama, stripped away all employee protections.

Franz’s amendment was fully supported by House Education Committee Chairwoman Lisa Lyons, R-Alto. In response to school employees’ concerns, Lyons said from the House floor: “Pigs get fat — hogs get slaughtered.” 

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