NSEA Legislative Update: March 4, 2014
In This Update
Education Trust Fund
Charter School Bill
Mid-Session 2014 Legislative Report:
We are now through Day 35 of the session. Committee hearings have wrapped up and all priority bills have been selected. (See Education-Related Bills, below). For the remaining 25 days of the session, the focus will be on priority bills, and amending the non-priority designated bills into them prior to the end of the Session on April 17. The Legislature will now hold full-day floor sessions. We anticipate some floor discussions will go well into the evening hours as time becomes a precious commodity.
The creation of an Education Trust Fund has long been on NSEA’s agenda. On Friday, the Revenue Committee heard testimony on LB1025, which would create such a Fund using Internet Sales Tax revenue. If passed, LB1025 would seed the Trust Fund with roughly $45 million that would be set aside for state aid to education. The 2013 NSEA Delegate Assembly passed a new business calling for establishment of an Education Trust Fund. Please thank Lincoln Sen. Kate Bolz for introducing two bills on the subject, LB1025 and LB1026.
Education Committee Chair Sen. Kate Sullivan and Appropriations Committee Chair Sen. Heath Mello have provided favorable feedback on the Fund. As the lack of time left this session makes passage of this legislation unlikely, we will seek a resolution calling for an interim study on the proposal.
Loan Forgiveness Improvements: Hyannis Sen. Al Davis is sponsoring LB842, which would increase the amount allocated to the Excellence in Teaching Cash Fund. Time constraints mean our goal now is to amend the provisions of LB842 into a priority bill and have it pass this session. Sen. Davis has also introduced an amendment that would increase the maximum credit hour amount for the loan and decrease the waiting period prior to loan forgiveness. Please thank Sen. Davis for his work on these important and needed modifications to the teacher loan forgiveness program.
We continue to be concerned about Omaha Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh’s charter school bill – LB972’s “Independent Public School” proposal. The bill was heard by the Education Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 25. Please continue to let lawmakers know that charter schools are not the answer to closing the achievement gap. We know what has been successful in improving student learning:
Adequate resources to ensure there is a quality teacher in every classroom.
A quality principal in every building.
A safe and caring learning environment.
High standards and expectations for students.
Rigorous, relevant curriculum.
Relationships with students, educators, parents, family, community, and businesses.
An accountability and assessment system that supports improved instruction.
Adequate and equitable funding.
Access to quality child care.
Access to quality early childhood education.
Access to quality health care.
Small class size, especially in grades K-3.
Before and after school programs.
English Language Learner programs.
Effective educator evaluation systems.
Family, school and community engagement.
Contact the Education Committee and ask them to indefinitely postpone the bill.
Sen. Kate Sullivan, Cedar Rapids: email@example.com, 402-471-2631
Sen. Jim Scheer, Norfolk: firstname.lastname@example.org, 402-471-2929
Sen. Bill Avery, Lincoln: email@example.com, 402-471-2633
Sen. Tanya Cook, Omaha: firstname.lastname@example.org, 402-471-2727
Sen. Al Davis, Hyannis: email@example.com, 402-471-2628
Sen. Ken Haar, Malcolm: firstname.lastname@example.org, 402-471-2673
Sen. Rick Kolowski, Omaha: email@example.com, 402-471-2327
Sen. Les Seiler, Hastings: firstname.lastname@example.org, 402-471-2712
LB943: Raising the Minimum Wage is Good for Education
Sen. Jeremy Nordquist, Omaha, introduced LB943, which would increase the state’s minimum wage to $9 per hour. It is the Senator’s priority bill for 2014. LB943 advanced from the Business and Labor Committee on a 6-1 vote and will be debated before the full legislature in the coming weeks.
NSEA supports LB943. Raising the minimum wage is of special concern to educators because we know it will help our students whose parents work hard to support their families and we know it will help many of our fellow educators — cafeteria employees, custodians, and even college instructors who do not earn a living wage.
Men and women who dedicate their lives to driving, nourishing, counseling, or teaching our nation’s students should not be forced to live at or below the poverty line. But all too often, teachers and ESPs who choose a life of public service must trade away their right to a decent standard of living.
We believe that raising the minimum wage will begin to address these concerns as well as help to kick-start our growing economy. We urge your support for LB943.
As Sen. Nordquist prepares for debate on this issue, he asks our members to join him, 13 other legislative co-sponsors, and more than 600 “Citizen Co-sponsors” in support of LB943. Sign on your support for LB943 at: http://www.valuingwork.com/
Prioritized Education-Related Bills:
As of Feb. 20, all priority bills for the 2014 Legislative Session have been selected. For the remainder of the session, only those bills that have been selected as priority bills, and that have advanced out of committee, will be scheduled for debate. Priority bills of interest to educators include:
LB145: (Brasch) Change valuation of agricultural land and horticultural land. MONITOR
LB670: (McCoy) Change property tax valuations of agricultural land and horticultural land. MONITOR
LB967: (Education Cmmt) Change provisions relating to state aid to schools and funding for early childhood education programs. (Eliminates the Teacher Education Allowance). OPPOSE
LB972: (Lautenbaugh) Adopt the Independent Public Schools Act (charter schools). OPPOSE
LB1042: (Nordquist) Provide for repayments by school employees rejoining a retirement system. SUPPORT
LB1067: (Hadley) Extend the sunset dates under certain tax incentive laws. MONITOR
LB1097: (B. Harr) Change individual income tax brackets and rates and corporate income tax rates. OPPOSE
On General File:
LB276: (Nordquist) Change reimbursement provisions under the Early Intervention Act and require a medicaid state plan amendment. SUPPORT
LB682: (Scheer) Provide for formation of allied school systems as prescribed. OPPOSE
LB887: (Campbell) Adopt the Wellness in Nebraska Act. SUPPORT
LB986: (Revenue Cmmt) Change homestead exemption income limitations. MONITOR
LB987: (Revenue Cmmt) Adjust individual income tax brackets for inflation and exempt social security benefits from income taxation. SUPPORT
LB1103: (Education Cmmt) Provide for a strategic planning process for education. SUPPORT
On Select File:
LB438: (Adams) Change the accountability system for schools and school districts under the Quality Education Accountability Act. SUPPORT
On Final Reading:
LB725: (Sullivan) Change student growth adjustment correction and local effort rate yield under the Tax Equity and Educational Opportunities Support Act. SUPPORT
A complete list of bills selected as priority bills is available here:
Education Related Bill Hearings Last Week:
Monday, Feb. 24, 2014
LB789: (Bolz) Provide for a survey relating to para-educators. SUPPORT
LB834: (Avery) Change provisions relating to funding for school breakfast programs. SUPPORT
LB958: (Cook) Provide for appointment of a student achievement coordinator. SUPPORT
LB1009: (K. Haar) Establish a pilot program relating to problem-based learning. MONITOR
LB1081: (Karpisek) Change provisions relating to school-sponsored activities. MONITOR
Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014
LB972: (Lautenbaugh) Adopt the Independent Public Schools Act. OPPOSE
LB973: (B. Harr) Change and eliminate provisions relating to classification of school districts. MONITOR
LB1060: (Lautenbaugh) Change from elected to appointed boards for educational service units. OPPOSE
LB1099: (K. Haar) Provide for a study relating to state aid to schools. SUPPORT