Legislative Update for 03/13/2020

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Legislative Update for 03/13/2020

Shanlyn SeivertGet prepared as the second funnel is scheduled to blow through next Friday. Bills need to have passed through one chamber and passed a committee in the other chamber to survive this legislative session. Bills that have been referred to Appropriations, Ways and Means, Government Oversight or are sponsored by a legislative leader are funnel-proof. This is the second year of the 88th General Assembly, which means bills that do not make it through this legislative session will need to start as a new bill next legislative session. 

Governor Reynolds signed SF 2142, which sets the state school aid increase at 2.3 percent and provides $85.5 million in new state funding for the 2020-21 school year. Attached is the LSA Fiscal Note for additional details.

Department of Education (Department) bills:

HF 2454 – State Accreditation Standards and Process - Provides two additional options for instructors to meet the state accreditation standards by combining education and experience in the occupational area. The first option permits an instructor to teach Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes at a community college if they possess an associate degree in the CTE field of instruction and they have at least 3,000 hours of recent and relevant work experience in the area in which they plan to teach. The second option allows an instructor to meet state accreditation standards if they possess a baccalaureate degree in any area and if at least 18 of the credit hours completed are in the CTE field in which they plan to teach. The bill passed both chambers unanimously and has been sent to the Governor. 

HF 2443 – Senior Year Plus Proficiency Requirements - To enroll in college credit courses via concurrent enrollment or Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO), a high school student must meet academic standards set by the postsecondary institution, which are the same for regularly-enrolled college students and high school students. Currently, high school students also have to be proficient at grade level in reading, math, and science to take any courses via concurrent enrollment. With the changes to the new Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP) proficiency standards, many students will lose access to college credit courses. The bill passed a Senate subcommittee with an amendment, which allows a student who is not proficient in one or more of the above content areas, to demonstrate proficiency through measures of college readiness jointly agreed upon by the school district and postsecondary institution. The bill is eligible for a vote in the Senate Education Committee. 

SF 2082 - Technical Code Corrections/Clarifications - Designed to clean up sections of Iowa Code. The bill passed both chambers and has been sent to the Governor.

Bills that passed in the House and were sent to the Senate: 

HF 2585 - Deaf and Hard of Hearing - Updates terminology by replacing the terms “hearing impaired” and “deaf” with “hard of hearing” and “deaf or hard of hearing.” The bill passed unanimously in the House, and has been referred to the State Government Committee in the Senate.

HF 2539 - Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children - Provides for the development and dissemination of a resource for parents/guardians of deaf or hard of hearing children in which language milestones for English and American Sign Language are included. The bill requires a selection of assessments that can be used to assess a student's literacy and language development in English and American Sign Language. It establishes a specific seven member advisory committee, to be convened by March 1, 2021, to solicit input on language development milestones in English and American Sign Language. It requires the Department to annually compile and publish a report that is specific to language and literacy development of eligible deaf and hard of hearing children from birth to eight years of age. It also requires the Department to appoint an Early Language Consultant to coordinate the above requirements. The bill passed unanimously in the House and was sent to the Senate, where it is scheduled for a subcommittee.

Bills that passed in the Senate and were sent to the House:

SF 2298 - Peace Officers - Exempts certain peace officers and retired peace officers from having to be certified by the Department of Transportation and from meeting certain instructor preparation requirements. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate, and has been referred to the Transportation Committee in the House.

SF 2009 – Minor Driver’s License - Allows a special, minor driver's licensee, who attends public school, to travel to certain extracurricular activities provided that the distance between the origin and destination does not exceed 50 miles. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate, and has been referred to the Transportation Committee in the House.

Bills eligible for debate on the House floor:

SF 2261 – Telehealth in Schools - Expands the opportunities for students to access mental health services in schools by offering parents/guardians access to services with a licensed professional mental health provider and to receive services through an electronic encounter in the school setting. The bill outlines the scenarios in which a valid provider-patient relationship can be established. The bill passed in the House Human Resources Committee with an amendment and a vote of 19-1, making it eligible for debate on the House floor. 

SF 2329 Concussion Care Providers - Adds occupational therapists to the definition of “licensed health care provider” for purposes of state law regarding concussion and brain injury policies for extracurricular interscholastic activities. Duties of such licensed healthcare providers include, but are not limited to, making determinations regarding removal of students from participation in such activities and their return to participation. The bill passed the House Education Committee with a vote of 22-1, making it eligible for debate on the House floor. 

HF 2460 – Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program (SWVPP) Expands eligibility for participation in SWVPP to include children turning five years old on/after March 15 and on/before September 15 of the school year. The expansion of eligibility dates will create a timeframe within which some children may be eligible for both SWVPP and kindergarten enrollment. Local school districts would make local decisions as to how many children they would serve. Local school districts would also identify their criteria to be used for prioritizing enrollment; four year old participation should be prioritized. Children could participate in the preschool program for two years, as both a four year old and a five year old. Local programs are also required to assist parents in assessing a child's readiness for enrollment. This would begin July 1, 2021. The bill passed unanimously in the Appropriations Committee making it eligible for debate on the House floor.

HF 2419 - English Proficiency Weighting - Creates two categories of students who are identified as limited English proficient (LEP) and assigns a supplementary weighting of 0.3 to intensive English Language Learners (ELL) and a supplementary weighting of 0.25 to intermediate English Language Learners. Currently, the weighting for all ELL students is .22. The bill passed unanimously in the Appropriations Committee making it eligible for debate on the House floor.

The clock is ticking, and the coming week will include a great deal of committee work and long hours debating bills on the floor. Depending upon where a bill is in the legislative process, once it passes on the chamber floor it will either be sent to the Governor or be sent back to the other chamber to complete the legislative process. Until next week...

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