Legislative Update June 2021
The North Carolina General Assembly continues to convene and like many sessions before it is shaping up to be a yearlong event. The budgeting process has been very slow and by all indications the body is not on track to complete the process before the end of June. Both chambers have agreed on a spending number, and the Senate will hopefully release their version of the budget soon. After the Senate passes their version, the House will begin their process to prepare their version. Hopefully, the process will come to a conclusion before the summer ends.
Even though the timing of passing a state budget is important, its content is what is most relevant to our organization and members. PENC has met continuously with legislators, and this process of preparation began last fall immediately after the elections. Executive Director Bill Medlin and PENC lobbyist Bryan Holloway have met throughout the pandemic and into the early weeks of June with several key education minded legislators to once again advocate for educators. Some of the topics of discussion included but were not limited to: salaries, health insurance for new hires, safety, and school performance grades. Together, they recently met with the following representatives and senators: Senator Jay Chaudhuri, Senator Paul Lowe, Representative Jeffrey Elmore, Representative Pat Hurley, Representative Graig Meyer, Representative Brian Farkas, Representative Dana Bumgardner, Representative Kyle Hall, and Representative William Richardson. These meetings were constructive and were consistently prefaced with a firm reminder that teachers and support staff were left behind in the last session for any meaningful compensation or considerations.
Last week, we can report that a major piece of legislation passed the House. Representative Elmore led the debate to pass the House Modifications to S654; https://dashboard.ncleg.gov/api/Services/BillSummary/2021/S654-SMBE-72(e5)-v-4. The Senate did not concur with the bill, and a conference committee was appointed. The bill dealt with a variety of topics from 11 month employment options for some teachers and also delays in class size mandates. The 11 month contract is optional for teachers, and it will be at the discretion of the local districts. The option is only allowed for teachers with 25 or more years. Please see the bill for more details linked above.
We will keep you posted as activity begins to steadily picking up. Stay tuned………..