Legislative Update for 03/29/2019

Iowa Department of Education Banner with Mission Statement

Legislative Update for 03/29/2019

Shanlyn Seivert

The clock is ticking and second funnel is now a week away. Both chambers continue to debate bills on the floor in an attempt to get them voted out of one chamber and out of a committee in the other chamber to be funnel proof.  

One such bill is SF 394 - Offer and Teach Requirements through Distance Learning Courses - Allows school districts and accredited nonpublic schools to offer distance learning courses to meet the state’s educational program “offer and teach” course requirements at the high school level by utilizing Iowa Learning Online (ILO) through the Department of Education (Department), or by offering a course through an online platform, if the course is developed by the school district or by offering such a course through a private provider that meets standards approved by the Department. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 49-0 and was sent to the House.

SF 437Scholarship Rule - Requires the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union and the Iowa High School Athletic Association to develop an eligibility policy for high school students competing in high school sports/extracurricular activities, that does not allow multiple suspensions for a single act. It requires the Department to adopt new rules when the policy is ready. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 49-0 and was sent to the House.

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 details of the bill were outlined in the March 22 legislative update which can be found here. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 32-17 and is scheduled for a House subcommittee on Monday.

SF 139/HF 420 - Financial Literacy Requirement under the State’s Educational Standards - Requires high school students enrolled in school districts and accredited nonpublic schools to take a one-half unit course in personal finance literacy, as a condition of graduation, commencing with students in the 2022-2023 school year graduating class. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 48-0 and was sent to the House. According to the Chair of the House Education Committee, HF 420 is heading for the House floor this week.

SF 159 - Practitioner Preparation Program Testing - Authorizes the Department to set the minimum passing score for completing a teacher preparation program in order to receive the initial license. It also requires the Department to establish a one-year waiver process for students who fail to obtain the minimum assessment score. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 48-0 with an amendment and was sent to the House. The amendment states that when setting the minimum passing scores, the Department will use scores required of similar tests in contiguous states as well as the supply and demand imbalance of content areas or teaching positions currently experienced in Iowa. The House has a companion bill HF 513, which is on the debate calendar for Monday. 

HF 499Vans Transporting Students – Excludes 10-passenger vehicles from the definition of a school bus. The Department of Transportation (DOT) would propose rules to allow 10-passenger automobiles to operate as school buses. The bill passed the House 95-0 and was sent to the Senate, where SF 186 was attached to the bill. SF 186 adds to the exemptions from the definition of “school bus” motor vehicles designed to carry not more than 11 passengers and can only be used to transport students to activities they are participating in or to transport a student home due to illness or an emergency. We’ll have to wait and see how these two bills will merge.

HF 598 – Classroom Assignments for Siblings – The bill 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 to 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 passed a Senate subcommittee.

HF 673Radon Testing - Requires school districts to conduct a short-term test for radon at least once by 2024 and at least once every five years using a person credentialed to perform radon abatement.  If multiple tests confirm an unacceptable level of radon, the bill requires schools to mitigate. It allows Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) and Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) funds to be used for both testing and mitigation. The bill passed the House Appropriations Committee making it eligible for debate on the floor.

SF 209 - Civics Test Requires school districts and accredited nonpublic schools to offer high school students an opportunity to take the US Citizenship and Immigration Services Naturalization Civics Test. The bill passed the Senate and was sent to the House, where it was scheduled for a vote in the House Education Committee; however, it did not receive a vote and most likely will not this legislative session.  

Although the second funnel is quickly approaching, please keep in mind when monitoring bills, that if a bill has been referred to Appropriations, Ways and Means, Government Oversight or sponsored by a legislative leader, it is funnel proof. Also, if a bill dies in one of the funnels, it can be resurrected as an amendment to another bill during this legislative session.  Finally, if a bill dies this legislative session it can easily be resurrected next legislative session. Until next week…  

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