Legislative Updates

 

 

NSEA Legislative Update – February 26, 2015

In This Update:

  1. Please Urge Teacher Tuition Reimbursement Continuance via LB589
  2. Lobby Action Day for Supporters of Medicaid Expansion in LB472
  3. Final Reminder: Dine with Your Senator on Tuesday, March 3
  4. Upcoming Public Hearings: Week of March 2
  5. Review of Recent Public Hearings: Week of Feb. 23

     

    Urgent: Tuition Reimbursement Program Would Continue via LB589

    You know the benefits of having the state’s Loan Forgiveness program for teachers – NSEA fought hard to win this legislation but funding is in jeopardy unless a bill supported by NSEA is passed this session!

    LB589, by Lincoln Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, increases lottery grant funding for the Excellence in Teaching tuition reimbursement program, from its current $1.2 million level, and expands it to $3 million by 2017 ($2M in FY2016-17, and $3M in FY2017-18). 

    Without LB589, this program will be completely unfunded in 2016. The bill would also expand the tuition reimbursement program to include educational endorsements in career academy, early childhood, and mental health counselor related fields.

    The Enhancing Excellence in Teaching Program (EETP) allows eligible teachers to apply, annually, for a loan of $175 per credit hour, up to a maximum of $3,000 forgiven for each year of teaching – $6,000 if teaching in a shortage subject area or high needs school. Students can apply for, and receive, EETP loans annually for up to five consecutive years. To apply, you must be certificated and currently teaching in a Nebraska school system, and enrolled in an approved graduate program that results in a degree.

    Click Here to contact members of the Education Committee and ask them to support LB589, which would ensure a portion of the state’s Lottery Funds continue to flow to this important program.  The committee has scheduled a public hearing on the bill for Monday, March 2.

     

    Lobby Action Day for Supporters of Medicaid Expansion in LB472

    Supporters of Medicaid expansion are holding a lobby action day for LB 472 (by Sen. Campbell of Lincoln), which has been set for March 5 from 9 a.m. to noon at the NSEA building.  They will start with a brief training at 9 a.m., then help people organize in order to meet with their senators.

    You can RSVP for the lobby day by clicking on this sign-up form for you, family, friends, or via social media to encourage people to join us for the LB472 Medicaid Expansion lobby day. 

     

    Final Reminder: Dine with Your Senator on Tuesday, March 3

    The annual NSEA Legislative Dinner is set for Tuesday, March 3, at the Champions Club, directly west of Memorial Stadium.  The reception is at 5 p.m. with dinner at 6 p.m.  There is no cost for dinner; mileage will be paid.  For those traveling more than 120 miles, arrangements can be made for hotel and substitute cost.  

    Please contact us with questions.  Get your name in before your legislative district is full!  RSVP with your entrée choice (beef, chicken, salmon or vegetarian) to Cathy Schapmann (cathy.schapmann@nsea.org) or Jan Anderson (jan.anderson@nsea.org) or call them at 1-800-742-0047.

     

    Upcoming Public Hearings: Week of March 2

    Unless otherwise noted, hearings begin at 1:30 p.m. and are live-streamed via NET and can be accessed by clicking here.

    If you are interested in testifying on an NSEA sponsored bill, we would appreciate your assistance.  Please contact Jason Hayes (jason.hayes@nsea.org) in order to coordinate your testimony.

    Monday, Mar. 2, 2015

    Education Committee

    LB 227 (Hansen) Change provisions relating to educational bridge programs.

    NSEA Position: Monitor.

    NDE shall annually file a report electronically with the Legislature on the bridge programs established pursuant to sections 79-1189 to 79-1196, using the data provided pursuant to section 79-1193.

    LB 402 (Baker) Change and eliminate provisions relating to distance education incentives.

    NSEA Position: Monitor.

    Amends section 79-1334. It is intended to continue a program of distance education which otherwise sunsets after 2015. The distance education program is used to provide an equal opportunity for all students to access quality courses through two-way interactive video distance education. The bill amends the statute to authorize the Department of Education to appropriate funding only for school districts and educational service units which send/provide distance education courses to other districts.

    LB 589 (Pansing Brooks) Provide for allocation of the Nebraska Education Improvement Fund as prescribed.

    NSEA Position: Support.  (NSEA Bill)

    Increases lottery grant funding for the Excellence in Teaching tuition reimbursement program, from its current $1.2 million level, and expands it to $3 million by 2017 ($2M in FY2016-17, and $3M in FY2017-18).  Also expands program to include educational endorsements in career academy, early childhood, and mental health counselor related fields.

    LB 355 (Morfeld) Change provisions relating to certain education funding as prescribed.

    NSEA Position: Monitor.

    Extends past 2016, lottery funding for the Education Opportunity Grants to low-income college students.

    LB 520 (Sullivan) Change provisions relating to transfers to certain education-related funds.

    NSEA Position: Monitor.

    Phases out lottery grants.

    LB 519 (Sullivan) Provide for school and student aid, grants, and assistance as prescribed.

    NSEA Position: Monitor.

    New lottery distribution formula: Education Innovation Fund (thru 6/30/16 19 3/4%; 7/1/16 44 1/2%), the Nebraska Opportunity Grant Fund (thru 6/30/16 24 3/4%; 7/1/16 General Funds), the Nebraska Education Improvement Fund (44 1/2%), the Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund (44 1/2%), the Nebraska State Fair Board (10%), and the Compulsive Gamblers Assistance Fund (first $500,000 + 1%).  At least 75% of Education Innovation Funds shall be disbursed.

     

    Tuesday, Mar. 3, 2015

    Education Committee

    LB 102 (Sullivan) Change provisions relating to the Access College Early Scholarship Program.

    NSEA Position: Monitor.

    Amends the Nebraska Revised Statutes to create the Access College Early plus Scholarship Program (ACE Plus). The ACE Plus Scholarship Program would provide need based aid of up to $1500 to a Nebraska student, during the students first and or second year that they attend a qualified Nebraska postsecondary institution full-time and maintain the required grade point average during their first year of college.

    LB 410 (Sullivan) Change eligibility provisions relating to the Access College Early Scholarship Program Act.

    NSEA Position: Monitor.

    Expands eligibility for the Access College Early Scholarship Program Act, which program provides scholarship dollars to students for the purpose of covering tuition and fees for a course that is part of a career plan of study. LB 410 would provide up to two hundred and fifty dollars per semester or $500 a year in scholarship dollars, provided that the student’s family has an annual income level at or below 250% of the federal poverty level.

    LB 36 (Bolz) Adopt the Community College Gap Assistance Program Act.

    NSEA Position: Monitor.

    Creates the Community College Gap Assistance Program. The purpose of the community college gap assistance program is to provide funding to community colleges to award community college gap assistance to students in eligible programs.

    LB 232 (Nordquist) Adopt the College Choice Grant Program Act.

    NSEA Position: Monitor.

    Creates the College Choice Grant Program Act.  Provides for awards made directly to eligible students demonstrating substantial financial need and shall be administered by the commission in conjunction with eligible postsecondary educational institutions.

    LB 401 (Kolterman) Adopt the College Tuition Equalization Grant Program Act.

    NSEA Position: Monitor.

    Creates the College Tuition Equalization Grant Program Act.  Provides additional financial assistance to Nebraska residents who wish to attend a privately controlled, nonprofit college or university located in Nebraska.

    LB 380 (Morfeld) Create and provide duties for the Higher Education Affordability Commission.

    NSEA Position: Monitor.

    Creates the Higher Education Affordability Commission.  The commission shall: share, examine, and analyze data and information regarding affordability of postsecondary education in Nebraska with a primary focus on innovative ways to reduce the expense for students and families.

     

    Wednesday, Mar. 4, 2015

    Revenue Committee

    LB 26 (Krist) Adopt the Choice for the Advancement of Nebraska Children in Education Act and provide for tax credits

    NSEA Position: Oppose.

    Provides tax credit for 60% of a contribution made to a private school “scholarship fund.”  Not a refundable credit but the taxpayer can carry forward the tax credit for up to 5 years. Cap on total amount lost revenue to the state is $10M for 2016, with potential for a 25% increase in the annual limit every year from 2017 forward. Sec. 12 provides that accepting the contributions will not allow the state to have any “control or influence” over whether a private school has to continue to enroll or to accept a student.

    Thursday, Mar. 5, 2015

    Retirement Committee

    LB 448 (Nordquist) Make current and new Class V school employees members of the School Employees Retirement System of the State of Nebraska

    NSEA Position: Monitor.

    Make current and new Class V school employees members of the School Employees Retirement System of the State of Nebraska.

    LB 447 (Nordquist) Change provisions relating to the Class V School Employees Retirement Act

    NSEA Position: Support.  (NSEA Bill)

    Change provisions relating to the Class V School Employees Retirement Act - provides for OSERS Board of Trustees to have authority to make investment decisions, hire director of OSERS and legal counsel reports to Board.  Also changes selected of employee members to be elected by the plan membership.

    Friday, Mar. 6, 2015

    Revenue Committee

    LB 438 (Morfeld) Change distribution of sales and use tax revenue and create and provide for a fund

    NSEA Position: Support.  (NSEA Bill)

    Change distribution of sales and use tax revenue and create and provide for an education trust fund.

     

     

    Review of Recent Public Hearings: The Week of Feb 23

    Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015

    Education Committee

    LB 601 (Bloomfield) Prohibit a school board member and an immediate family member from being employed with the school district

    NSEA Position: Monitor.

    No immediate family member of a school board member shall be employed by the school district during the time in which the school board member serves on such board.  Immediate family member means the school board member's spouse, children, parents, stepchildren, and stepparents.

    LB 379 (Bolz) Adopt the Expanded Learning Opportunity Grant Program Act

    NSEA Position: Support.

    The purpose of the Expanded Learning Opportunity Grant Program Act is to promote academic achievement outside of school hours in high-need school districts. The grant program shall provide grants to community-based organizations working in partnership with schools in high needs districts to provide expanded learning opportunity programs.

    LB 382 (Cook) Change provisions of the Diploma of High School Equivalency Assistance Act and state intent relating to certain transfers

    NSEA Position: Monitor.

    State Department of Education shall provide for grants to any entity offering a high school equivalency program, which entity is not an institution. Grants pursuant to this section shall be awarded to applicants which meet the requirements of section 79-2304.

    LB 435 (Cook) Adopt the Time to Teach and Time to Learn Act

    NSEA Position: Support.  (NSEA Bill)

    Beginning with school fiscal year 2016-17, the Time to Teach and Time to Learn Grant Program is established in the State Department of Education to encourage school districts to increase time for teachers to teach and time for students to learn. A school district may apply for a grant pursuant to the grant program of up to one hundred dollars per impacted student and up to five hundred dollars per impacted teacher or principal for increasing time available for teaching and learning.

    LB 617 (Larson) Adopt the Working to Improve Schools Act

    NSEA Position: Oppose.

    School districts shall offer an accelerated reading intervention program to each student in kindergarten, first grade, second grade, and third grade who exhibits a reading deficiency, for the purpose of preventing grade three student retention. If the student's reading deficiency is not corrected by the end of grade three, the student will not be promoted to grade four.  In addition, the State Department of Education shall prepare an annual report of the results of the statewide assessment to describe student achievement in the state as a whole, in each school district, and in each school. The annual report shall grade schools on an A through F grading scale based upon the assessment.