Legislative Update for 03/12/2021

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Legislative Update for 03/12/2021

Renee Jerman


Legislators spent most of this week caucusing and on debating bills on the floor. The second funnel, which is the deadline for bills to be voted out of one chamber and out of committee in the other chamber to survive, is scheduled for Friday, April 2. There were a few committee meetings held this week in an attempt to maintain the flow of bills ready for debate on the floor.

On a different topic, it can sometimes be a challenge to follow bills as they work their way through the legislative process, as bill numbers change at different stages. I have included the most current bill numbers, so you may want to look for bills by title rather than bill number.

Speaking of bills working through the legislative process, there were several education bills that passed one chamber and were sent to the other chamber for consideration.

Bills that passed on the Senate floor and were sent to the House:

SF478 School First Amendment Rights - Contains various provisions establishing training, prohibitions, and requirements for school districts and public postsecondary educational institutions in the attempt to protect the first amendment rights of students, staff, and faculty. Prohibits schools and institutions from providing training that contains “divisive concepts” and defines that term. Passed the Senate floor with a vote of 33 to 14 and referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

SF546 Homeschooling Provisions - Changes assessment and reporting deadlines for competent private instruction. Changes the definition of competent private instruction to include private instruction by a parent, guardian, or legal custodian. Eliminates or reduces various requirements for driver education courses administered by teaching parents, making them easier to complete. Passed the Senate floor with a vote of 28 - 17. The bill was sent to the House and referred to the House Education Committee.

Bills that passed on the House floor and were sent to the Senate:

HF675 Substitute Teachers - Requires the Board of Educational Examiners (BoEE) to issue a substitute authorization that allows an individual to substitute in grades prekindergarten through twelve for no more than 10 consecutive days in a 30 day period in one job assignment for a regularly assigned teacher who is absent, except in the driver’s education classroom. Allows a school district administrator to file a written request with the BoEE for an extension of the 10 day limit in one job assignment in a 30 day period on the basis of documented need and benefit to the instructional program. Requires the executive director or appointee to review the request and provide a written decision. Requires a substitute teacher authorization to have not less than the successful completion of an associate degree or not less than 60 undergraduate semester hours, or the equivalent, from a college or university accredited by the accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education. The bill passed the House floor, as amended, with a vote of 93 to 0 and was referred to the Senate Education Committee. A Senate Education Subcommittee meeting is scheduled for next week.

HF793 Physical Education - Provides that a student who is enrolled in junior reserve officers’ training corps is not required to participate in physical education or physical activities under the state’s educational standards, but shall receive one-eighth unit of physical education credit for each semester (or the equivalent) the student is enrolled in the junior reserve officers’ training corps. The House passed the bill 92 to 0 and sent the bill to the Senate.

HF795 Seizure Disorders - Provides that the parent or guardian of each student diagnosed with a seizure disorder may collaborate with licensed health personnel, including the school nurse or individualized education program team, to create an individual health plan, and a seizure action plan if appropriate, consistent with rules adopted by the state board of education. The bill directs the school to acquire consent from parents to administer seizure medication, requires information to be kept confidential, and establishes liability protections for employees acting in good faith compliance with the health plan. It also requires school districts and accredited nonpublic schools to provide certain training relating to seizures to relevant school employees, requires the state board of education to adopt rules for implementation of new Iowa Code section 280.13D, and requires the Department to develop and implement a seizure education program statewide. The bill also requires the Department, in collaboration with the Department of Public Health, to convene a school district health-related training requirements task force. The House passed the bill 91 to 1 and sent the bill to the Senate. 

Subcommittees meetings held this week:

HF228 Diversity Plans - Eliminates implementation of a voluntary diversity plan as a reason to deny open enrollment. The bill also eliminates provisions directing the state board of education to adopt rules establishing definitions, guidelines, and a review process that school districts must follow when adopting a voluntary diversity plan and provisions requiring the department of education to provide technical assistance to school districts seeking to adopt a voluntary diversity plan. This bill passed the House with a vote of 56 to 32. The Senate Education subcommittee moved this bill forward this week with a recommended amendment. *Related language is also found in SF159. 

HF642 Sharing Special Education Director - Allows special education director positions to be eligible for shared operational function weighting for the school budget years beginning on or after July 1, 2021. The House Education Committee passed this bill and referred it to the House Appropriations Committee which held a subcommittee meeting this week and moved the bill forward.

Subcommittee meetings scheduled for next week:

HF602 School Activity Accounts - Authorizes the board of directors of a school district to, for the school budget years beginning on July 1, 2021, and July 1, 2022, transfer money from their general fund to the student activity fund in an amount necessary to fund co-curricular and extracurricular activities provided by the district for which moneys from student-related activities fail to meet the financial needs of the activities as the result of restrictions placed on the activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Would take effect upon enactment and be repealed on July 1, 2023. The House has passed this bill, 94 to 2, and sent it to the Senate where it is scheduled for a Senate Education subcommittee meeting next week.

There are only three weeks remaining until the second funnel. When a bill is sent to the other chamber, it once again has to work its way through the legislative process. If you are interested in learning more about the legislative process, I have included the link to the Resources and Civic Education webpage. Typically, both chambers have daily debates, which is where details of the bill are discussed. I've included the link to the Debate Eligibility Calendar, where you can click on either chamber to see what is scheduled to be debated for that day. Since the legislative process is complicated, with lots of moving pieces, the debate schedule can change frequently. Until next week...

Renee Jerman
Legislative Liaison
Iowa Department of Education
Grimes State Office Building
400 E 14th St
Des Moines, IA 50319-0146
Cell: 515-729-0859
Office: 515-281-3399