Legislative Update for 03/22/2019

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Legislative Update for 03/22/2019

Shanlyn Seivert

The majority of action on education-related bills occurred on the chamber floors this week. A few bills passed one chamber and were sent to the other chamber for consideration.

One such bill was SF 438 - Omnibus bill, makes changes to Iowa Code that pertain to school district responsibilities and authority, including dental, vision, and lead screening data collection and reporting. The bill includes three divisions:

Division I - Addresses responsibilities related to child health, including the use of environmentally friendly cleaning products, and school districts’ responsibilities and requirements relating to dental, vision and lead screening data collection and reporting.

Division II – Addresses area education agency (AEA) budget hearing notifications. The bill strikes the requirement for the AEAs to post notice of a public hearing in the county newspaper where an AEA is located. They would now post notice on their website. 

Division III – Addresses school bus rules, deposit of proceeds from district sale of schoolhouses and sites, public notice for loan agreements for equipment purchases, charging of costs for registry checks of school employees, and requirements pertaining to school building energy audits.

The bill passed the Senate on a party-line vote of 32-17 with amendments. The bill specifies that the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) is responsible for developing a dental, vision and blood lead testing reporting system for parents and providers to use. One of the amendments extends the date of implementation for the system to July 1, 2020. The other amendment would allow the IDPH to provide a list of children enrolled in the school district or accredited nonpublic school, who have had dental and vision screenings and blood lead testing, to a school district, if the school district or accredited nonpublic school requests the information, and there is written consent from a parent or guardian.

SF 160Emergency Operations Plans – Requires schools, when developing their emergency operations plans, to consider recommendations from the Department of Public Safety, in addition to recommendations from the Department of Education (Department). The bill passed the Senate on a 48-0 vote and has been sent to the House.

SF 209 - Civics Test - Requires school districts and accredited non-public schools to offer high school students an opportunity to take the US Citizenship and Immigration Services Naturalization Civics Test. The bill requires the Department to approve alternative tests for students receiving special education and English Language Learner services. The bill passed the Senate and has been sent to the House, where it passed a House subcommittee. The committee members stated there would likely be amendments. The bill is on the agenda for Monday’s Education Committee meeting.

SF 479/HF 690 - Children’s Mental Health System - Establishes a children’s behavioral health system, identifies what qualifies a child or adolescent for services, and establishes required core behavioral health services. The bill codifies a children’s behavioral health system state board with specific state agency and community stakeholder representatives. The bill defines core services and sets eligibility requirements for children under the age of 18. The goal is for the children’s behavioral health system to work in tandem with the current structure for the Adult Mental Health Regions System. SF 479 is eligible for debate in the Senate. HF 690 passed the House on a vote of 83-14 and was sent to the Senate. 

HF 499 - Vans Transporting StudentsExcludes 10-passenger vehicles from the definition of a school bus. The Department of Transportation (DOT) would propose rules to allow 10-passenger autos to operate as school buses. The bill passed the House on a vote of 95-0 and has been sent to the Senate.

HF 598Classroom Assignments for Siblings The bill, as amended, allows parents to request that siblings be placed in the same classroom for kindergarten through grade 5 at the start of the registration period, or within 14 days of the start of attendance for later-enrolled students. It requires the school defer to the parent, unless the principal determines that the placement is disruptive. It allows a parent to appeal to their local school board if they disagree with the principal’s decision. The bill passed the House on a vote of 91-5 and has been sent to the Senate.

SF 316 – Special Education Interim Study – Requests the Legislative Council establish an interim study committee to consider and make recommendations regarding special education services. The bill specifies stakeholders from whom the study is required to receive input and requires the committee to submit a report with its findings and recommendations to the legislature, and each member of Iowa’s congressional delegation, on or before December 18, 2020. The bill passed the Senate and was sent to the House where it passed the House Education Committee, making it eligible for debate on the House floor.

SF 488  – Concurrent Enrollment to meet Certain Educational Requirements - Increases the weighting for liberal arts concurrent enrollment courses from .46 to .50, authorizes school districts with enrollments of 600 or fewer pupils and accredited nonpublic schools with enrollments in grades 9 through 12 of 200 or fewer to utilize concurrent enrollment programs to meet the requirements for science and mathematics units under the educational standards, allows school districts with enrollments over 600 pupils to enter into an agreement with a community college to meet the requirements for science and mathematics units under the educational standards, and allows accredited nonpublic schools to enter into concurrent enrollment contracts with community colleges for the provision of academic or career and technical coursework for high school students. It also provides for a standing unlimited appropriation to fund the enrollment of accredited nonpublic school pupils under concurrent enrollment contracts between accredited nonpublic schools and community colleges. The bill passed the Appropriations Committee with an amendment and is now eligible for debate on the floor. The amendment clarifies that it's not all courses within the offer and teach content areas, but instead, those used to meet offer and teach requirements that are subject to no weighting for those districts greater than 600 enrollment and adds a retroactive date of July 1, 2018, for this provision.

There are two weeks remaining prior to the second funnel date of April 5, which is the deadline for bills to be voted out of one chamber, and out of committee in the other chamber to survive. In order for this to occur a great deal of floor work has to happen. Don’t miss out! Click here to watch the debate videos at your convenience. Until next week…  

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