Legislative Update (2/7/19)
Thursday, February 7, 2019
Posted by: Kelly Riley
Tuesday, February 5, was the deadline for committees to report general bills originating in their own chamber. General bills not passed by committees by Tuesday’s deadline died on the calendar. Click here to review MPE’s first bill tracking spreadsheet which includes those education bills which survived Tuesday’s deadline and are under consideration by the full House or full Senate. Here is a quick update on several critical issues we are monitoring:
- Teacher Pay Raise: Senate Education met Tuesday afternoon and passed SB 2770 which provides for a $500 teacher pay raise in 2019-2020 and another $500 raise in 2020-2021 for a total of $1,000 over the course of two years. The bill also increases the minimum salary for assistant teachers by $1,000 over the course of these same two years, with assistants receiving an additional $500 each year. MPE appreciates Senators Billy Hudson, Sollie Norwood and Brice Wiggins for asking Senate Education Chairman Gray Tollison why the raise was only $1,000, as well as how the amount could be increased. Chairman Tollison responded that the state has limited resources and that he preferred to move the bill forward with the $1,000 raise. SB 2770 is a companion bill to HB 1349 which also provides a $1,000 teacher pay raise over the course of two years, as well as a raise for assistant teachers. Both bills must now be considered by their respective chamber.
- Vouchers: As originally introduced, SB 2675 basically expanded eligibility for Educational Scholarship Accounts (i.e., vouchers) to all students. Senate Education adopted a committee substitute for the bill Tuesday afternoon which only extends the repealer on the bill from 2020 to 2024. All other sections of the bill were stripped out of the committee substitute. We will monitor the bill to make sure it is not amended at some point in the process to once again expand vouchers. On the House side, MPE would like to thank Rep. Richard Bennett, Chairman of House Education, for not bringing any voucher expansion bills up for consideration in committee.
- PERS Retirees Serving in the Legislature: All bills that allowed PERS retirees to serve in the legislature and draw retirement died. HB 1349 allows teachers with at least 25 years of service credit who have been retired for 1 year to be reemployed and continue to receive retirement benefits.
- Testing: All bills regarding state testing and/or the use of the ACT died on the calendar with Tuesday’s deadline.
Each chamber must pass its own general bills by next Thursday, February 14, or the bills will die on the calendar. MPE encourages you to contact your senator and/or representative with your thoughts and opinions on legislation. Click here for legislative contact information. When contacting a legislator or other elected official, please do so in a professional and courteous manner, especially regarding any social media posts. You may not agree with a legislator’s position, their vote, or their response, but it is critical that you maintain your professionalism and do not use inappropriate language, as doing so does not benefit your position or the education community as a whole.