May 4, 2017 Legislative Update

Crossover Deadline

Last week, on April 27, the North Carolina General Assembly reached a pivotal point in this long session - crossover. If a bill does not pass through at least one chamber by the crossover date, it is generally regarded as dead for the biennium session. There are some exceptions*, but generally the crossover deadline is a key hurdle that must be cleared in the life of a bill. Legislation which appropriates dollars, such as educator salaries and specific funding for specials teachers, will be found in the budget to be passed later this session. The budget document along with resolutions are not subject to the crossover deadline. 

Now that crossover has passed, the Senate and House will move forward in drafting and rolling out their respective versions of their spending plans. The Senate will debut its budget first, most likely by mid-May, and then the House will follow with its own budget proposal. In the days ahead, PENC will be very busy working on communicating our priorities for educator pay and funding for all teachers and resources to legislators. 

Please note that Senate Bill 375 Limit Payroll Deduct./Wage Withhold did clear the crossover hurdle, and so payroll deduction for association dues is subject to potential elimination. We continue to urge you to renew your membership by PENC's installment payment plan so that you do not run the risk having your membership cancelled if payroll deduction payments are eliminated. We will send a special notice to members on payroll deduction payment this renewal season to remind them of this. 

*Eligible to file in 2017 but no deadlines: (1) Redistricting bills for House, Senate, Congress or local entities (H). (2) Ratification of amendments to the Constitution of the United States (H). (3) Bills introduced on the report of the House Committees on Appropriations, Finance, or Rules. (H) (4) Bills providing for action on gubernatorial nominations or appointments. (S) (5)Adjournment resolution (H & S). * No filing deadline for bills providing for amendments to the NC Constitution and bills containing statutory amendments necessary to implement the proposed amendments.

Several Education Bills Make it in the Nick of Time

HB 13: Class Size Requirement Changes

This bill, which was negotiated by PENC lobbyists and publicly stated by the Senate, would fund all Specials Teachers as a single line item in year 2 of the biennium budget ensuring no job losses. This bill, now signed into law by the Governor, eases the pressures of LEAs to meet General Assembly class size mandates. In addition, flexibility is given to LEA’s as they work to lower class sizes and will ensure that LEA’s report to the General Assembly their plans to meet these objectives for the 2018-2019 school year.

HB 21: Driver Instruction/Law Enforcement Stops

HB 21 passed the House and is now in the Senate Rules Committee. This bill is designed to better equip North Carolina drivers with the appropriate responses to traffic stops by law enforcement. This bill recommends that law enforcement agencies create guidelines for motorists to follow in the event of being stopped. In addition, appropriate measures for drivers will be included in future Drivers Education manuals and curriculum so that both teens and police officers understand proper traffic stop expectations.

HB 514: Permit Municipal Charter School/Certain Towns

This bill, which passed the House and has moved to the Senate Rules Committee, would let certain towns, Matthews and Mint Hill, administer charter schools, utilize property tax revenues for their operation, and offer priority enrollment to student residents of those towns.

HB 534: Computer Coding Course Elective

HB 534, which seeks to expand course electives in technology for middle and high school students, passed the House and has moved to the Senate Rules Committee. This bill directs the State Board of Education to create curriculum which supports computer programming and coding to be offered as elective courses to interested students.

HB 556: Study Early Childhood Education

This bill has been modified and is now a Study bill designed to create a Task Force on Early Childhood Education. The Task Force would consider best management practices for the administration of early childhood programs and services within a centralized agency. This bill has passed the House and has been referred to the Senate Rules Committee.

HB 634: Private Alternative Teacher Preparation

This bill, which has passed the House and has moved to the Senate Rules Committee, allows the State Board of Education to consider alternative educator licensure programs. These programs would be at the approval discretion of the State Board of Education and may include non profits, private schools, for-profit institutions, other licensure agencies, or other lateral entry pathways. In addition, the bill allows the State Board to approve up to four programs that meets its standards.

HB 670: Protect Educational Property

HB 670 has passed the House and has moved to the Senate Rules Committee. HB 670 would designate as a felony threats of mass violence on school property or extracurricular events on educational property.

HB 826: Modify Low-performing School Definition

HB 826, which passed the House and awaits action in the Senate Rules Committee, modifies language on the definition of a low performing school. The new definition, a minor change, clarifies that a low performing school is a school which receives a performance grade of D or F and did not meet growth.

HB 833: Driver Education Oversight/Lane Departure

This bill passed the House and has moved to the Senate Rules Committee for further action. HB 833 creates the new Office of Driver Education Services to be administered within the Department of Public Instruction. In addition, the bill directs this office to operate within the parameters developed by the State Board of Education. Finally, the bill stipulates that funds allocated for Drivers Education must be consistent with supporting Driver Education within LEAs. An additional amendment added language regarding lane departure be included in the future Drivers Education curriculum.

SB 448: Professors In The Classroom

SB 448 cleared the Senate and has moved to the House Rules Committee. In order to meet classroom demand and offer LEA flexibility, SB 448 would give LEAs authority to utilize Higher Education faculty, on a contract basis, to serve as K-12 adjunct instructors .

SB 531: School Boards Can't Sue Counties

SB 531 heads to the House Rules Committee after passing the Senate last week. This bill is intended to prevent civil lawsuits by School Boards toward County Commissions regarding the sufficiency of funds allocated by the county board of commissioners. In addition, the bill notes that the appropriations decision by the county commissions would be final.

HB 800 Various Changes to Charter School Laws

HB 800 passed the House and has moved to the Senate Rules Committee. This bill makes small changes related to charter schools. These changes include priority enrollment consideration for the children of employees of charter schools. In addition, the bill allows teachers to be considered employed by an educational management organization instead of the board of directors of the charter school.

HB 806 Student Notice/Charter School Closure/Restr.

HB 806 has cleared the House and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Rules. The bill states that Charter Schools must provide notification to parents within 5 days of receiving information from the State Board of Education regarding the “dissolution, termination, revocation, nonrenewal, or significant restructuring as a condition of continuous operation.” This bill is intended to keep parents and other stakeholders aware of any conversations regarding the closure of the Charter that occurs between the State Board of Education and that charter institution

SB 15 (= H23) Teachers/Isolated K-12 Schools

SB 15 has passed the Senate and has moved to the House Rules Committee. This bill would make special teacher allotments to geographically isolated schools to insure at least one classroom teacher per grade level to schools meeting certain qualifying requirements.

 SB 375  Limit Payroll Deduct./Wage Withhold

SB 375 cleared the Senate and moved to the House Rules Committee. This bill seeks to repeal a statutory provision that allowed some employees associations to utilize payroll deductions. Passage of this bill would end the practice of association member's having dues paid via payroll deduction unless employee(s) is covered by specific Federal law.

Submitted by Bryan Holloway
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