Legislative Recap Report
As always, there were many legislative issues of interest to Missouri educators during this year’s session of both houses. Following is a list of the bills that passed and those that did not pass.
SB 576 (Stouffer) - The bill expands the authority for charter schools to cover the entire state, expands the list of entities allowed to sponsor charter schools, creates a statewide chartering commission and makes some of the changes needed to improve the accountability and transparency of charter sponsors and charter schools. The bill does not require existing sponsors to participate in and to pass a comprehensive review process before being allowed to sponsor new charters or renew existing charters.
Gifted Program Reporting:
SB 599 (Schaefer) - The bill requires districts to include reporting for gifted education programs in their district report cards.
HB 1219 (Elmer) VETOED - Governor Nixon vetoed the bill on March 16 and the legislature did not override the veto. The Senate passed SB 592 (Lager), a similar bill, but the House did not pass the bill.
The bills made several changes to the state's anti-discrimination law in employment, disability and housing and significantly limited and weakened “whistle-blower” protections.
Higher Education Omnibus Bills:
HB 1042 (Thomson)
SB 563 (Dixon)
The original bill modifies the term lengths of the board of governors of Missouri State University so that no more than three members' terms expire in any given year. The HCS and amendments add the provisions of several other higher education bills and amendments from this session:
SB 482 (Stouffer) relating to Alzheimer's disease research projects,
HB 1201 (Sifton) correcting the law regarding the Education Commission of the States,
HB 1855 (Wallingford) to create the Missouri Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Initiative within the Department of Higher Education,
SB 681 (Lager) to revise residency requirements of regents of Northwest Missouri State University, and
SB 811 (Dixon) authorizing land conveyances by the Missouri State University Board of Governors,
SB 655 (Green)/HB 1502 (Jones) to create the Higher Education Capital Fund,
HB 1803 (Korman) to allow a document showing school social work degree program completion for graduates meeting other criteria,
HB 1192 (Koenig) to require the Missouri Higher Education Savings Program (MOST) to expand investment offerings,
HB 1214 (Torpey) to require the Missouri Small Business Technology Centers to manage a virtual network for entrepreneurs, a provision limiting designations of public college personalized license plates, and authority for community colleges to own property outside the territory of the community college district.
Career and Technical:
SB 599 (Schaefer) – DESE to provide staffing support for career-related student organizations and to establish standards allowing private schools to establish local FFA chapters.
Ft. Zumwalt School Board Terms:
SB 450 (Rupp) - Governor Jay Nixon signed the bill into law on April 2, allowing it to go into effect for school board elections on April 3. The bill specifies that any St. Charles County school district that becomes an urban school district because of the 2010 federal decennial census will continue to have terms of three years for its school board members. Without specific language to the contrary, the default school board term length for an urban school district is six years. The bill applies to the Fort Zumwalt school district because it contains more than half of the population of O'Fallon, and that city now meets the urban district population criterion.
DID NOT PASS
Tenure Repeal, Layoff, Evaluations and Test Scores:
HB 1526 (Dieckhaus), SB 806 (Cunningham) - The Senate briefly debated HCS/HB 1526 on May 18, before laying the bill over for the year. Senator Lager withdrew his SA 1 regarding evaluation and offered an amendment to the layoff statute to address other factors while leaving evaluations as the primary basis for layoffs. Senator Engler offered a substitute amendment to repeal the entire section regarding layoffs. Engler's amendment was defeated 12-20 on a standing division vote. The bill was laid over, and Senate work on bills was done for the session. HB 1526 (Dieckhaus) and SB 806 (Cunningham) contained various provisions, such as tenure repeal, weakening of layoff protections and imposing detailed state mandates on teacher evaluations tied to student test scores.
Teaching Evaluation, Improvement Plans, Study:
SB 654 (Lager), HB 1366 (Fitzwater) - SB 654 would require school districts to establish high-quality teacher and teaching evaluation systems and commit resources to implement high-quality evaluations. The bill was heard by the Senate Education Committee, but did not come to a vote. The bill also requires districts to establish standards for professional improvement plans. HB 1366 contained similar language.
Formula underfunding “crash”:
SB 454 (Pearce), HB 1043 (Thomson) - The bills would spread the impact of formula underfunding to both formula and non-formula districts, beginning next school year, the first year the formula will be fully phased in. The existing law’s wording is unclear on how the impact of underfunding will be distributed, possibly producing a massive shift of funding from formula to non-formula districts. The language was debated on other bills and blocked by a filibuster by Senators Lamping and Schmitt.
DESE has recently announced its plan for distribution of formula aid next year. The Department plans to use existing law that applies beginning next year during underfunding to hold the state adequacy target fixed at the current value of $6,131, rather than phasing in increases provided by law based upon changes in performance districts that would have raised the adequacy target and the cost of the formula. However, DESE plans to prorate payments to all districts based upon available appropriations using that $6,131 base amount, as it has in preceding years, rather than to further reduce the adequacy target.
SB 599 enacted language to allow school districts receiving fine payments from the 2011 Doe Run settlement to receive those payments without having a deduction in state aid based on counting such fines as increased "local revenue" under the formula calculation.
State Board Intervention in Unaccredited Districts:
HB 1174 (Lair), SB 677 (Pearce) – House leaders killed SS/HCS/HB 1174 on May 18 by refusing to bring the bill up for a final vote. The bill had originally passed the House 148-0 and passed the Senate in a slightly different form by a 31-0 vote. Representative Dieckhaus stated, while the House had no real issues with HB 1174, the House would not vote to approve the bill until the Senate passed HB 1526 regarding teacher layoffs. When the Senate did not bring HB 1526 to a vote, House leaders made good on their threat and killed HB 1174.
SS/HCS/HB 1174 would have revised the timelines and options for State Board intervention when it classifies a district as unaccredited. The bill allows the State Board to consider possible changes in governance when classifying a district as unaccredited, rather than waiting two years and automatically lapsing the district. The bill also incorporates language to require that the State Board hold a hearing in the unaccredited district to help bring community resources and stakeholders together in support of a district improvement plan.
Unaccredited districts & Turner v. Clayton:
SB 456 (Pearce), SB 839 (Lembke), SB 451 and 706 (Cunningham), HB 1997 (McNeil), HB 1830 (Stream)
St. Louis County Circuit Judge David Lee Vincent ruled on May 1 that section 167.131, RSMo, the transfer law upon which the Turner v. Clayton decision relied, was unenforceable in the Turner/Breitenfeld case as it violates the limitation of the Article X or "Hancock" limitation that the state may not require a new or increased level of activity or service without providing full state funding for that activity or service. The judge also concluded that it would be impossible for SLPS and receiving county districts to comply with the law under the forecast transfer of more than 15,000 students from St. Louis City to county schools, and thus the law is held to be void.
If the decision stands, it appears to remove the need to seek a legislative change to restore local control regarding the enrollment of non-resident students seeking to transfer from unaccredited districts, at least as it relates to students transferring from St. Louis City and perhaps from other unaccredited districts.
SB 456 (Pearce) and HB 1830 (Stream) would have required school districts to establish criteria for the admission of nonresident students from unaccredited districts based upon availability of qualified instructional staff in existing classroom space..
State Revenues/Streamlined Sales Tax:
SB 548 (Purgason), HB 1571 (Oxford), HB 1356 (Funderburk) and HB 1215 (McNeil) - The legislature failed to pass comprehensive legislation regarding tax credit accountability, including bills such as SB 548 and HB 1571. These bills sought to ensure that tax expenditures are efficient in accomplishing a public purpose and to protect the revenues the state needs to fund public schools, public higher education and other vital services. HB 1356 and HB 1215 would enact the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement. The House did not pass either bill and House leaders maintained that the positive revenue impact of the bills be offset with corporate tax giveaways to make the bills “revenue neutral.” The bills would help ensure that more of the sales and use taxes that should be collected for purchases in Missouri from online and remote sellers are actually collected. The bill also helps level the playing field for Missouri-based businesses that are already collecting and remitting state sales tax and facing increasing competition from online and remote sellers who do not collect sales taxes.
The House approved HB 1639 (Nolte), but the bill did not pass the Senate. The bill reduces the taxes on business income and corporate income, and reduces the amount available for historic rehabilitation tax credits. The bill will significantly reduce state revenues by as much as $180 million per year within three years.
HB 1418 (Colona) - The legislature did not pass legislation regarding collective bargaining for public employees. The bill would treat all public employees fairly and is built on broad consensus among public employee groups and public employers.
SB 553 (Brown) – This bill would have banned labor union payroll deductions for any purpose, including collection of union dues and impose additional paperwork mandates on political contributions. The Senate debated the bill briefly but did not bring it to a vote.
HJR 69 (Funderburk) - HJR 69 is a proposed constitutional amendment, which, if approved by a statewide vote, would replace the state personal and corporate income taxes, corporate and bank franchise taxes, existing state sales and use taxes and local earnings taxes with a greatly expanded and increased sales tax on most sales of goods and services. The HJR did not pass the House.
SB 842 (Lamping), HB 1741 (Leara)
School Retirement - The Senate gave first round approval (Perfection vote) to SCS/SB 842 , but the bill was never brought to a final vote in the Senate. The bill would enact into permanent statute provisions similar to the Funding Stabilization Policy adopted last year by the PSRS Board of Trustees. The original bill would have frozen the PSRS and PEERS contribution rates at current levels until the system becomes 100 percent funded, while the SCS version allows the system to raise the contribution rate for PSRS by 1/2 percent per year, if needed.
Public College Retirement Plans
The House approved HB 1741, but the bill did not pass the Senate. The bill would stabilize the institutional contribution rate for the College and University Retirement Plan (CURP) at seven percent. CURP is a defined contribution plan for instructional staff at public colleges and universities other than the University of Missouri System. The CURP institutional contribution rate is currently set at one percent below the normal cost of the MOSERS plan for state employees. Recent changes to reduce the benefits and cost of the MOSERS plan for new hires will reduce the normal cost of that system. The bill decouples the CURP rate from MOSERS, ensuring that institutions will continue to contribute seven percent to the plan on behalf of employees..
SB 706, (Cunningham), HB 1718 (Scharnhorst) “Bryce's Law” special education voucher
SB 706 (Cunningham) would have created procedures for vouchers and open enrollment of public school students across school district boundary lines under certain circumstances, but the Senate did not pass the bill. The bill was drafted in the form of a response to the Turner vs. Clayton decision, but created a program of vouchers allowing public funds to support students attending private and religious schools.
The House defeated an amendment to HB 1854 (Gris more) offered on May 2 by Representative Scharnhorst to add his HB 1718 to the bill. The amendment was defeated by a vote of 51-104. The bill would create an 80 percent tax credit for donations to private “scholarship granting organizations” providing payments for certain disabled students to attend private or religious schools or out-of-district public schools. The bill allows an unlimited total amount in tax credits for “contributions” to a scholarship fund, though the bill only allows students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, Angelman Syndrome, or cerebral palsy to receive funding under the program.
Virtual Charter Schools:
SB 735 (Nieves), HB 1629 (Barnes) - SB 735 and HB 1629 would have allowed nonresident students to attend a school district or a charter school to access virtual courses or programs. Neither bill was passed by the legislature. Under the bills, the state would pay the district or charter school 72.5 percent of the statewide average per pupil spending the previous year.
MO Accountability Portal/School Info:
HB 1140 - HB 1140 passed the House, but did not pass the Senate. This bill requires the Office of Administration to maintain public school, city and county government accountability information on the Missouri Accountability Portal. The bill also requires information regarding state travel expenses incurred by the Governor to be maintained on the Portal. School districts and public charter schools must annually provide detailed employee compensation data, the school calendar, the district budget, and school policies to the department in a commonly used electronic format as specified by the department.
HJR 89 (Schoeller) - This bill would have authorized the legislature to enact voter photo ID requirements, but it was not approved by the House. The ballot title of SJR 2, a similar joint resolution already approved by the legislature, was recently rejected as defective by a Missouri court. Due to the court ruling, the proposed constitutional requirements for voter ID and early voting will not be placed on a statewide ballot at the November 2012 election. SJR 2 would have allowed the legislature to enact a bill to require any person seeking to vote in a public election to provide election officials a driver's license or other government-issued photo identification. The SJR also authorized early voting up to 17 days prior to the election date.
Student Study Plans:
HB 1609 (Nasheed) - The House passed HB 1609 as an amendment on SB 599 (Schaefer), but the language did not pass this session. The bill would require each school district to ensure that every student develops a personal plan of secondary and post-secondary study prior to the end of the student's eighth grade year.
Promotion of Students:
HB 1425 (McNary) - HB 1425 would have required each school district to establish a program for student academic progression. The House did not pass the bill.
HB 1049 (Allen) - The House passed HB 1049, but the Senate did not pass the bill. The House version of the bill expands the law regarding school anti-bullying policies and removes the language preventing school district policies from prohibiting bullying perceived as being motivated by certain enumerated categories.
Student Immigration Status:
SB 590 (Kraus) - The Senate General Laws Committee voted to approve SB 590 but the Senate did not pass the bill. Among other provisions, SB 590 requires all public schools to determine whether enrolling students are born outside of the United States or are children of an unlawfully present alien. In such cases, the bill requires the parent or guardian to notify the school of the citizenship or immigration status of the child.
Teacher Contract Renewal Dates:
HB 1157 (Rowland) - HB 1157 would delay the deadline for the notification of reemployment and the offering of teacher contracts for probationary teachers from April 15 to May 15. The House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee approved the bill, but the House did not vote on the bill.
Mandatory Reporter Requirements:
HB 1491 (Haefner) - HCS/HB 1491 would have required individual mandatory reporters of child abuse or neglect, such as teachers and nurses, to report suspected abuse or neglect directly to the Children's Division, rather than reporting to a designated agent at the school, such as a counselor or administrator, and relying on that agent to make the report. The bill was later amended onto HB 1515 (Schad), but was not enacted into law. The bill includes whistle-blower protections preventing administrators from inhibiting reports and protecting employees from sanction for making reports.
The House passed HCS/HB 1169 (Franz). The provisions were eventually approved in SB 599 (Schaefer). The bill changes the reporting requirements and investigatory authority for allegations of child abuse relating to spanking by school personnel. The school district report shall be made to local law enforcement, rather than the county juvenile officer, and the investigation shall be made by local law enforcement in the county.
SB 641 (Pearce), SB 649 (Ridgeway) - SB 641 would extend the sunset on the state mandate for kindergarten and first grade students to have eye exams by an optometrist before entering school. Neither bill was passed by the legislature. SB 649 implements the recommendations of the Children's Vision Commission and maintains requirement for all students to have vision screenings at the beginning of kindergarten, first grade and second grade. SB 649 also requires every child who is referred for a comprehensive vision examination to receive one comprehensive vision examination performed by a state licensed optometrist or physician.
SB 451 (Cunningham) - This bill would have enacted additional authority for school districts to cooperate with other entities to provide school services and own and operate school-related facilities, but the bill did not pass the Senate.
SB 543 (Chappelle-Nadal) - SB 543 would have enacted several requirements regarding administrator evaluation and compensation. The bill did not pass the Senate. SB 543 would have required districts to reduce administrative costs by at least the same percentage as the district reduces instruction cost by reduction in force, required DESE to establish an evaluation instrument for superintendents and granted a three year MSIP waiver for any districts that are consolidated and for any district experiencing more than a ten percent increase in enrollment due to a boundary change.
Math and Science Tutoring for St. Louis School District:
HB 1466 (Nasheed) - The House approved HB 1466, but the bill did not pass the Senate. The bill creates a pilot program for tutoring centers for struggling students in any St. Louis City public school.