Legislative Update for 04/27/2019

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Legislative Update for 04/27/2019

Shanlyn Seivert

Adjournment sine die! Legislators put in long hours this week and the 2019 legislative session has concluded on Saturday afternoon, almost a week earlier than the official end date of May 3. All the bills that passed out of both the House and Senate will now be on their way to the Governor. Since this was the first year of the 88th General Assembly, bills that did not make it through this legislative session can easily be resurrected next legislative session.     

Bills on the way to the Governor

SF 139 - 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, beginning with the 2020-2021 school year graduating class. SF 139 passed the Senate on a vote of 50-0 and the House on a vote of 96-2, with an amendment to change the commencing school years to 2020-2021.

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 the House on a vote of 96-0.

SF 603 - Concurrent Enrollment to meet Certain Educational Requirements -

  • Increases the weighting for liberal arts concurrent enrollment courses from .46 to .50.
  • Provides parameters on the use of concurrent enrollment to meet the offer and teach requirements regarding class size, good faith effort and student accessibility.
  • 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 or 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 or mathematics units under the educational standards.
  • 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.
  • Requires that community college instructors who provide instruction to high school students through concurrent enrollment are subject to the same sexual exploitation laws as other school employees.

The bill is subject to an appropriation, which was included in HF 758, Education Appropriations bill. The bill passed the House on a vote of 57-38 and in the Senate on a vote of 48-0. 

SF 638Standing Appropriations - Addresses state and local finances by making appropriations, providing for legal and regulatory matters, concerning taxation, and other miscellaneous items. The bill continues the $15 million reduction of state aid to the AEAs which has been done for many years and appropriates funds for nonpublic transportation. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 32-16 and in the House on a vote of 53-45. 

HF 499 - Vans and Pickups Transporting Students - Allows new or used vans and pickups of ten or fewer persons, including the driver, and used vans of 12 passengers or less, including the driver, to be used for student transportation. All of which can be used as school buses for school routes and for activity trips, which could include sporting events and field trips. If the vehicle is being used as a school bus, the driver would have to meet all qualifications, licensing, and instruction requirements, the same as any other school bus driver. None of the vehicles should transport more passengers than there are safety belts or safety harnesses found in the particular vehicle as installed by the manufacturer. The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 49-0 and passed the House on a vote of 99-0.

HF 546 - SAVE (Secure an Advanced Vision for Education) - Extends the SAVE state penny sales tax for school infrastructure through January 1, 2051, and increases the property tax relief to 30 percent.

  • Establishes a base transfer supplement equal to the equity transfer for use by the Department for foundation base supplements.
  • Terminates revenue purpose statements as of 2031 and requires schools which do not intend to use a revenue purpose statement after 2023 to have one approved by the voters by July 2019.
  • Requires public hearing for revenue bond sales and allows voters to petition for a vote on revenue bond sales.
  • Creates a Career Academy Fund, which allows a separate and distinct fund to be created where funds are allocated as competitive grants to establish career academies, with preference going to new academies where three or more school districts are working collaboratively, with a maximum grant award of $1 million. The second priority goes to existing academies.

The bill also states that an athletic facility infrastructure project, defined as a building or structure that is not physically attached to a student attendance center, will not be authorized until each attendance center within the school district is equipped with secured entrance and exit door systems. It also requires districts to have a public hearing prior to the use of SAVE funds for athletic facilities, which allows voters the opportunity to petition for a vote if SAVE funds are used for athletic facilities. In addition, it allows the use of SAVE funds for school security and safety equipment.

Regarding small schools, which are defined as having a certified enrollment of less than 250 students or fewer than 100 in high school, the Department is required to use a cost benefit analysis when determining whether to issue a certificate of need for building by a small school. HF 546 passed the House on a vote of 94-4 and the Senate on a vote of 48-2.

HF 596 Whole-Grade Sharing - Extends certain whole-grade sharing and school district reorganization incentives such as a reduced uniform levy until July 2024. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 49-0 and passed the House on a vote of 97-0.

HF 598 – Classroom Assignments for Siblings – Allows parents to request that siblings, who are deemed to be at the same grade level, 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 the Senate on a vote of 44-5. 

HF 637 – School Misconduct Reports - Requires that information reportable to the Board of Educational Examiners (BoEE) on the misconduct of school employees be reported within 30 days. The bill passed the House on a vote of 98-0 and passed the Senate on a vote of 50-0. 

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 goal is for the children’s behavioral health system to work in tandem with the current structure for the Adult Mental Health Regions System. The bill passed the House on a vote of 83-14 and passed the Senate on a vote of 46-2. 

HF 758 Education Appropriations - Passed in both chambers with an amendment S- 3022 on a party-line vote. Some of the highlights from the bill are an increase of $322,325 for Career and Technical Secondary Education, an increase of $2.1 million for Children's Mental Health Training, which is allocated to the Area Education Agencies, $500,000 for Adult Literacy and Workforce, $25,000 for Best Buddies, and $1 million for Nonpublic School Concurrent Enrollment. 

There are a few bills that survived to the end of the legislative session, but did not pass both chambers. Some of those bills are:

SF 316Special Education StudyRequests the Legislative Council to establish an interim study committee to consider and make recommendations regarding special education services. 

HF 592Statewide Preschool Eligibility - Changes the statewide preschool program for four-year-old children to the statewide preschool program for young children and allows both four and five-year-olds to attend. 

HF 755Radon Testing - Requires school districts to conduct a short-term test for radon at least once by 2024 and at least once every five years thereafter.

HF 783 - Statewide Preschool Eligibility - Expands the eligibility and state funding provisions of the statewide preschool program for four-year-old children to also include five-year-old children who reach the age of five between March 15 and September 15 of the calendar year during which the school year begins. 

SF 445English as a Second Language (ESL) Supplemental Weighting – Increases the amount of supplementary weighting from .22 to .295 for five years for limited English proficient students. 

SF 481 - Education Tax Credit - Creates a tax credit for community college students pursuing a credential leading to high-demand occupations. 

SF 547 - Education Savings Accounts - Establishes educational savings grants for disabled students in private schools or those in public schools who are paying tuition due to not qualifying for open enrollment.  

With the conclusion of session, there are many bills for the Governor to consider. She has three options: sign the bill, veto the bill (or item veto an appropriations bill), or take no action. Bills received by the Governor during the last three calendar days of session must be signed or vetoed within 30 calendar days. If the Governor does not take action within 30 calendar days, the bill fails to become law. If the bill is an appropriations bill, the Governor can line-item veto, which is striking a specific item. Some bills will be effective upon enactment (when signed by the Governor), and others may be effective upon a specified date. If you are interested in knowing the effective date of a particular bill, it is usually outlined at the end of the bill before the signatures of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House.

Each year the Department sends a letter to school districts outlining the bills that passed this legislative session and how those bills will impact districts. In the coming weeks, we will be finalizing that letter. Also, for the bills that are extensive, the Department will provide additional guidance to assist school districts with next steps and implementation.

If you would like to see the bills that have passed this legislative session, I have attached the link to the Enrolled Bills webpage. The page shows the date the bill passed, when the Governor signed the bill, and the effective date. Also, if you are interested in watching the floor debate of a particular bill, I’ve attached the link to the Live Chamber Video, click Bill Archives for either the House or Senate and it will take you to the beginning of the video for that bill. Lastly, if you would like to read any of my previous updates, here is the link to the Department’s Legislative webpage, which includes legislative bill tracking, updates, reports, and guidance.  

In the meantime, if you have questions regarding education bills, please feel free to contact me.

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