After much debate, the Senate narrowly passed SB 618 and the same debate seems to be brewing in the House Education Committee as expressed by the Committee Vice Chair Rep. Tom Hooker (R-Byron Center). A former teacher, Hooker is concerned that the bill to lift the cap on charter schools may harm traditional public schools. While he supports the idea of giving parents choices, he said he has no position on the bill right now.
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.”
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.
In a brief 15-minute meeting today, the Senate Reforms, Restructuring and Reinventing Committee heard testimony on HB 4929 by its sponsor, Rep. Joe Haveman (R-Holland). The bill would prohibit the payroll deduction of union dues from an employee's paycheck. SB 636, a similar bill sponsored by Sen. Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive) is also being considered by the Committee.
The House Education Committee is considering legislation (HB 4671, Heise, R-Plymouth) that would prevent school districts from paying superintendents more than the state Superintendent of Public Instruction. State Superintendent Michael Flanagan, earned $184,000 in 2010-11.
The Legislature won’t be getting advice any time soon from the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) regarding expanding charter schools and other elements of the so-called education reform package (SB 618-624).
Gov. Snyder said that he has no intention of fully replacing personal property tax (PPT) revenue if the tax is repealed, yet 61 percent of voters oppose an outright appeal of the PPT. The PPT generates approximately $1.27 billion statewide for schools and local governments.
Labor law experts at a Mackinac Center luncheon called PA 152 (formerly SB 7) “a huge wave change” because it forced unions to get to the bargaining table faster. That law mandates either a hard cap or a 20 percent insurance premium share for employees. The effects of PA 54 (formerly HB 4152) were also discussed – that law banned salary step increases and health premium increases once a contract expires, if no new agreement is in place, and also banned retroactive bargaining.