Legislative Update for February 2, 2018

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Legislative Update for 02/02/2018

Shanlyn SeivertThe realization that the first funnel (the date by which bills need to be voted out of a House or Senate Committee to stay alive) is only two weeks away is evident at the Capitol! There were several subcommittees held, which resulted in quite a few bills being voted out of the House and Senate Education Committees this week.

The House Education Committee approved HF 2230 and the Senate Education Committee approved SF 2164, both establishing a 1 percent growth rate in school aid, which is an increase of approximately $32 million. The Governor’s proposal was a 1.5 percent increase, which equates to approximately $54 million. Both chambers state they plan to set the school aid rate within the first 30 days for the 2018-2019 school year.

SF 2131 - Iowa Learning Online (ILO) - Expanded Access, is a bill put forth by the Department of Education (Department) and expands access to the ILO program to students receiving independent private instruction, competent private instruction, or attending non-accredited private schools. The bill passed with a unanimous vote in the Senate Education Committee and is now eligible for debate on the Senate floor. The bill passed a House subcommittee, and is eligible for a vote in the House Education Committee.

HF 2235 - Statewide Assessment - This bill states that the new assessment shall be developed by the Iowa Testing Program located within the University of Iowa College of Education and be administered by the Iowa Testing Program’s designee. The bill passed the House Education Committee on a 20-1 vote, which makes it eligible for debate on the House floor.

HF 2031 - Biblical Education - This bill would require the Department to create course standards for elective social studies courses on the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament of the Bible. The bill also asks the Department to adopt rules to include practitioner preparation and professional development requirements for practitioners employed by a school district. The bill passed a House subcommittee and is now eligible for a vote in the House Education Committee.

HF 2072 - Shared Operational Function Supplemental Weighting for Licensed Social Workers - This bill expands the eligible positions generating operational sharing supplementary weighting to include licensed social workers, which would generate a supplementary weighting of three pupils. The bill passed a House subcommittee and is eligible for a vote in the House Education Committee.

There was subcommittee held on HF 221, which is designed to address transportation inequities. During the subcommittee there was discussion regarding SF 455, which was a bill from last session designed to address inequities in district cost per pupil and transportation costs. Last year, SF 455 passed out of the Senate and at the end of the session it was in the House Appropriations Committee, which is a funnel proof committee. This allowed the bill to remain alive for this session. There are proposed amendments for HF 221, so stay tuned as there is more to come on this topic.

SF 2137 - School Bus Route Limitations - This bill passed the Senate Education Committee with an amendment on a 12-1 vote. It is now eligible for debate on the Senate floor. The bill places the responsibility to determine the amount of time a student can be on a bus with local school boards. The amendment allows a school board to extend the one-way riding time of 75 minutes for both elementary and high school students if they do the following; hold two public hearings and outline the need for the bus route change, provide a 30 day notice to those affected by the proposed change, and after the public meetings have occurred, adopt the approved change at the next regularly scheduled board meeting. The local school board may also extend the riding time of an elementary or high school student in order to meet certain educational needs.

My legislative update typically focuses on bills that have passed a subcommittee or full committee. With funnel week right around the corner, there has been a surge of new education related bills introduced in the last week. To keep you up to date, I’ve attached the link to Department’s Bill Tracker. This is a quick and easy way to keep current on bills that have been introduced and my future updates will show which of those bills have moved forward in the legislative process.

Also, many legislators will hold caucuses back in their districts on Monday, February 5. If you are planning a trip to the Capitol on Monday, there will not be the usual hustle and bustle of the legislative process. 

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