Legislative Update for January 12, 2018

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Legislative Update for 01/12/2018

Shanlyn Seivert 

So the gavels have been dusted off and the second session of the 87th General Assembly has begun! The first day of session was January 8, with the House and Senate gaveling in at the same time. The current make-up of the House consists of 58 Republican and 41 Democrat legislators, with one vacancy. On the House Education Committee there are 14 Republican and nine Democratic legislators. In the Senate there are 29 Republican, 20 Democratic and one independent legislator, and the Education Committee is comprised of nine Republican and six Democratic legislators. Click here for a list of legislators.

Click here for both the House and Senate Education Committees. The Chairs and Ranking Members in both Education Committees remain the same as last session, with the exception of the Vice-Chair in the House. In the House Education Committee, Walt Rogers is Chair, Jon Jacobsen, Vice-Chair and Sharon Steckman is the Ranking Member. Representative Jacobsen replaced Representative Greg Forristall, who passed away last year. In the Senate Education Committee, Amy Sinclair is Chair, Jeff Edler, Vice-Chair and Herman Quirmbach, Ranking Member.

On January 9, Governor Kim Reynolds delivered her first Condition of the State address and released her fiscal year (FY) 2019 and FY 2020 proposed budgets. Her recommendations included an increase of $54 million for K-12 education for FY 2019, which equates to roughly 1.5 percent increase in Supplemental State Aid. The Governor's budget also included a recommended appropriation of $5 million toward the cost of the new statewide student assessment.

The Department introduced four bills which have been pre-filed and are awaiting assignment to the respective Education Committees.

The Department’s bills are as follows:

Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC) Instructional Rubrics – This bill would require school districts, as a condition of receiving Teacher Leadership and Compensation funds beginning July 1, 2019, to develop, adopt, or retain an instructional rubric, framework, or learning progression that defines effective instructional practice across developmental stages and focuses on student learning and achievement. The bill also tasks the Department of Education with issuing guidance to school districts regarding this process. For further details, click here.

Iowa Learning Online (ILO), Expanded Access – ILO courses, which are vetted by the Department and taught by an Iowa licensed teacher, are currently available to only school districts and accredited nonpublic schools. This bill seeks to expand access to ILO to students receiving independent private instruction, competent private instruction, or attending non-accredited private schools. The parent or guardian of the student would be responsible for paying the cost of the ILO course. For further details, click here.

American Sign Language as a World Language – This bill provides that American Sign Language may count as a World Language for the purposes of offer-and-teach. Whether to offer it as a World Language for that purpose is left to the local district. The bill also changes code references from “foreign language” to “world language.” For further details, click here.

Department of Education Code Corrections and Clarifications – This bill is designed to clean up sections of Iowa code related to education matters and does not establish any new policies. For further details, click here.

There are several education related bills you may find interesting. You can track and monitor those bills utilizing the Department’s bill tracking site, which is available here.

For your convenience, I have included the link to The Iowa Legislature website here. There are tabs at the top where you can choose the area you are interested in, such as legislators, legislation or committees. I have also included the Iowa 87th General Assembly Calendar herewhich shows February 16 as the end of the first funnel week. Bills must be voted out of a House or Senate Committee by this date in order to stay alive and remain eligible for debate. This does not apply to bills that spend money (Appropriations bills). By the second funnel deadline, which is March 16, bills have to be voted out of one chamber and out of committee in the opposite chamber or they are no longer eligible for debate. Once again, this does not include Appropriations bills.

Week one of the legislative session has come and gone. The next several weeks will be filled with a flurry of bills and an abundance of subcommittees and committee meetings. If the pace is anything like last year, you'll want to buckle up, as it will be a fast ride.   

Shan Seivert
Policy Liaison
Iowa Department of Education
Cell: 515-326-5595
Office: 515-281-3399