NSEA Legislative Update: April 23, 2014
In This Update:
Vote by Mail for the Nebraska Primary Election
It takes just a few minutes of your time to fill out the application to vote by mail, but it will make a big difference for Nebraska. Here is what you need to do:
1. Make sure you are registered to vote. If not, complete this form and deliver to your local clerk or election commissioner by April 25.
2. Next, complete and sign the form. You must mail this form in time to be received by your county clerk or election commissioner on Wednesday, May 7.
3. Mail the form today to your local clerk or election commissioner. Click here to find their address.
4. You will receive your ballot by mail before the election.
Complete your ballot and mail it back in time to be received by your county clerk or election commissioner no later than Tuesday, May 13.
Please, make your voice heard. Take the time to fill out the application to vote by mail to have your ballot sent directly to you. It's quick, convenient, and safe. Any Registered voter in Nebraskan can vote by mail so request your ballot today!
Full details for registration and early voting: http://www.nsea.org/nebraska-early-voter
2014 Recap: The Session in Review
NSEA's legislative goals for the 2014 session of the Nebraska Legislature included enhancing the state's investment in public education to ensure strong schools, strong communities and a strong economy. In support of these goals, NSEA targeted specific areas for its legislative lobbying agenda:
Provide state and local funding that supports quality public education for every student;
Maintain prudent management and funding of the state school employees’ retirement plan;
Ensure the protection of collective bargaining rights; and
Promote and protect public education programs that benefit Nebraska students, teachers, higher education faculty and education support professionals.
State and Local Funding that Supports Quality Public Education
LB725 State Aid to Education (NSEA Supported; Passed by the Legislature): LB725 modified the state aid formula and resulted in a net increase in state aid of $32.92 million for FY15. The total amount of state aid in 2014-15 will be $932,861,520.
LB967 Education Innovation Fund and State Aid to Education (NSEA supported, except for TEEOSA Allowance Changes; includes LB842; Passed by the Legislature): LB967 changes various provisions relating to education, including the allocation of lottery proceeds and provisions of the state aid formula.
Education Innovation Fund: LB842, amended into LB967, provides an additional $200,000 in lottery proceeds for forgivable loans to educators seeking advanced degrees. The Excellence in Teaching Act will now provide $1.2 million in both FY2014-15 and FY2015-16 in loan forgiveness for educators and future educators.
State Aid (TEEOSA): LB967 gradually eliminates the instructional time and teacher education allowances in the state aid formula beginning in FY2016-17. The bill reduces the amount allocated in the formula for each allowance by 50 percent in FY2015-16. The amount allocated for the instructional time allowance is cut from $20 million to $10 million and the teacher education allowance is reduced from $30 million to $15 million in FY16. NSEA is working with the Education Committee to find appropriate replacement incentives for these allowances.
LR41CA Horseracing (Neutral; Advanced to November 2014 General Ballot): LB41CA would amend the Nebraska Constitution to authorize the Legislature to enact laws providing for the licensing and regulation of wagering on the results of live, replayed, and delayed horseraces when such wagering occurs at licensed racetracks where live racing occurs, by a pari-mutuel method. Forty-nine percent of the money remaining after the payment of regulatory expenses shall be used for elementary and secondary education statewide.
Maintain Prudent Management, Funding of School Retirement Plan
LB1042 School Employees Retirement Plans (Neutral; Includes LB1041, Passed by the Legislature): LB1042 amends statutes for the School Employees Retirement System and the Omaha School Employees Retirement System (OSERS). After July 1, 2014, the bill changes the number years of creditable service a school employee must have from 5 years to 10 years in order to purchase service credit or “air time.”
LB1042 also amends the School Employees Retirement Act to change the cost for repurchase of previously relinquished creditable service as follows:
1. School employees who were reinstated to membership prior to the effective date of the act and who file an application within 6 years will pay an amount equal to previously withdrawn contributions plus an amount equal to the actuarial assumed rate of return (currently 8 percent). Repayment must be completed within 6 years.
2. School employees who are reinstated to membership on or after the effective date of this act and who file an application within 5 years will pay an amount equal to previously withdrawn contributions plus an amount equal to the actuarial rate of return (currently 8 percent). Repayment must be completed within 5 years.
Ensure the Protection of Collective Bargaining Rights
LB972 Independent (Charter) Public Schools (NSEA Opposes; Failed to Advance): LB972 would have created the Independent Public Schools Act. An independent public school would have been deemed to be a political subdivision that operates under a compact granted by the State Board of Education (NDE).
Promote and Protect Public Education Programs that Benefit Education
LB438 Priority School Designation (Support; Passed by Legislature): LB438 requires the State Board of Education to designate priority schools based upon school and district performance scores beginning with data from the 2014-15 school year. Priority schools are to be in the lowest performance category. No more than three schools may be designated priority schools at one time. No later than Aug. 1, 2016, the state board shall approve progress plans for the initial three schools chosen as priority schools.
LB682 Allied School Systems (NSEA opposed; Failed to Advance): LB682 would have mandated that any school district in the state with fewer than 650 students in grades kindergarten through 12 for at least two consecutive school years, form an allied system with at least three other school districts with less than 650 students so the minimum number of students in the system is 1,300.
LB923 School Security and Suicide Prevention (NSEA Supported; Includes LB872, Passed by the Legislature): LB923 establishes a state school security director within the State Department of Education. The director will collect safety and security plans from each school district, recommend minimum standards for school security, conduct an assessment of the security of each public school building, and identify deficiencies in school security, among other things. The bill also requires school personnel including nurses, teachers, counselors, psychologists, administrators and other appropriate staff, to receive at least one hour of suicide awareness and prevention training each year beginning in 2015-16.
LB1103 Strategic Planning for Education (NSEA Supported; Passed by Legislature): LB1103 requires the Education Committee of the Legislature to conduct a strategic planning process to create a statewide vision for education in Nebraska. The committee may conduct meetings, work sessions, and focus groups with individuals and representatives of educational interests, taxpayer groups, the business community and other interested entities. The committee shall hold at least three public hearings and must submit a report regarding the visioning process on or before Dec. 31, 2014.
LR421CA Abolish State Board, Department and Commissioner of Education (NSEA Opposed; Failed to Advance): LR421CA would ask Nebraska voters to amend the Constitution of Nebraska by eliminating provisions for the State Board of Education, the State Department of Education, and the Commissioner of Education.
LB879 Concealed Handguns in Schools (NSEA Opposed; Failed to Advance): LB879 would have amended the Concealed Handgun Permit Act and created a new advanced level permit to allow permit holders to carry a concealed handgun in a school.
LB987 State Income Tax (NSEA Supported; Passed by the Legislature): LB987 provides for indexing of the income brackets for inflation beginning with taxable years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2015. The tax rate is unchanged. LB987 also reduces the federal adjusted gross income (AGI) by the amount received as Social Security benefits which are included in federal AGI for Nebraska income tax purposes. The adjustment applies to those taxpayers with federal AGI of $58,000 or less for married filing joint returns and $43,000 or less for all other returns. Over the next four years, LB987 will provide $125.9 million in tax cuts.