The storm before the calm: Another busy week in Lansing -- and then, summer break

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.

Senate Bill 503 fixes state tenure law to reduce the time and cost of the current process to dismiss ineffective tenured teachers. The bill will help schools deal with poor educators while retaining the due process rights of effective ones.

Because the House package is pending, your urgent help is needed. Contact your state senator now and ask him/her to support Senate Bill 503 and to reject House Bills 4625-4628.

Also this week, lawmakers in both chambers will try to hammer out differences between competing plans dealing with public employee health care.

The Senate’s plan would require public employees to pay at least 20 percent of the cost of their health care. The House version would place a hard cap on the amount an employer could spend on employees’ health coverage (ranging from $5,500 for an individual to $15,000 for a family policy).

MEA opposes Senate Bill 7 and House Bill 4572. Local school districts should have the right to decide through collective bargaining how much employees pay for insurance. These bills neither reduce the overall cost of health care nor provide stable state funding for schools.

Contact your representative and senator today – remind them that offering health insurance to employees is an effective way of recruiting and retaining good workers, which benefits students.