Monday, April 1, 2013

Conference Committees Open on Weapons, Education Bills

The first day of the last week of the regular session opens with a conference committee on weapons in public building, including schools, and setting the stage for conference negotiations on a long list of education bills.

Guns in Schools

The conference committee Federal and State Affairs bills (Senators Ostmeyer, Emler and Faust-Goudeau; Representatives Siegfreid, Brunk and Ruiz began discussing HB 2052 – Concealed carry in public buildings – this afternoon, but did not address the major difference regarding school districts.  The Senate version of the bill requires most public building to allow concealed carry of handguns unless the building has specific security measures, and DOES apply to school districts; however, it allows a four-year exception for all building, including schools, if the governing body files a security plan.  The House version of this legislation, passed in HB 2055 exempts school districts entirely.  (The Senate has introduced a new substitute bill HB 2055, with a different subject, so don’t be confused by the numbers.)  KASB prefers version passed by House in HB 2055.  School leaders are encouraged to contact members of the conference committee, as well as your local Senators and Representatives, to voice your concerns about this measure.  The House version allows more local control for boards.

Both the House and Senate versions authorize local school boards to permit any employee, who is licensed to carry a concealed handgun, to carry a concealed handgun in any school building if the employee meets such institution's own policy requirements regardless of whether such building is conspicuously posted to prohibit concealed handguns.

The conference committee is also studying differences in HB 2033, concerning the regulation of knives.  As amended, the bill would prohibit municipalities from regulating the transportation, possession, carrying, sales, transfers, purchases, gifting, licensing, registration, or uses of a knife or knife-making components.  In addition, the bill would prohibit a municipality from passing any ordinance, resolution, or rule that would be more restrictive regarding knife manufacturing than the manufacture of any other commercial product.  KASB believed that the original bill would not impact the ability of school districts to regular knives, but the Senate amended the bill to specifically exclude from the definition of municipality school districts, jails, and juvenile correctional facilities.  The House did not consider that exemption.

Native American Students – Graduation Requirements

The Federal and State Affairs conference committee tentative agreed to House amendments to SB 111 that would add children “in the custody of a federally recognized Indian tribe in this state” to the list of individuals awarded a high school diploma upon the completion of State Board of Education requirements, even if they have not completed additional graduation requirements adopted by the local school board.  Currently, this provision applies to children the custody of the state.  KASB was neutral on this provision.

Education Conference Committees Begins Tuesday

The conference committee of House and Senate Education Committee leaders (Senators Abrams, Arpke and Hensley; Representatives Kelley, Cassidy and Trimmer) will meet tomorrow at 8 a.m. to consider the following bills:

SB 128 – Expands time to receive tech education incentive payments.  The House Education Committee amended to extend expiration date of postsecondary technical education authority from 2014 to 2017.

HB 2261 – Permanent ability to transfer unexpended balances; requires 65 percent of transfer spent on instruction; removes limit on contingency fund.  The Senate Education Committee amended the bill by requiring the school district superintendent’s report on unencumbered balances be sent to the State Board of Education.  KASB supports.
HB 2319 – Innovative school districts exempted from most state laws in exchange for higher outcomes standards.  The House version allows up to 10 districts to be authorized by the State Board as public innovative districts; the Senate Education committee amended to allow up to 10% of districts (28).  The bill allows districts would be exempt from most state laws governing districts, except finance, special education, health, and safety laws, but the districts must agree to demonstrate success in student completion for military service, postsecondary certification or other postsecondary programs.  KASB supports.

HB 2349 – Directors Legislative Post Audit to conduct three efficiency audits per year.  The Senate Education Committee added sunset and exception language proposed by KASB.  KASB supports.
The conference committee composed of the Senate Education and House Education BUDGET Committee leaders (Senators Abrams, Arpke and Hensley; Representatives Cassidy, Grosserode and Winn) has not announced a first meeting, but will conference on the following bills:
HB 2109 – Extends second military count date to 2017.  The Senate made technical amendments.

SB 23 – Extends 20 mill statewide school levy. (KASB supports.)  House Education Committee amendment adds mandatory 10 percent local option budget to finance higher base state aid per pupil for school finance lawsuit defense (KASB opposes).  House floor amendment broadens allowable uses for capital outlay revenues, but does not take effect until state capital outlay aid is restored (KASB supports).

SB 171 – Requires reporting additional school budget information on district website.  KASB opposed in committee; but committee amendments removed requirements for new reporting of student activities information.  KASB is now neutral.

HB 2140 – Substitute bill by S Education; amended Governor’s Read to Succeed program; first grade retention, literacy assistance programs.  KASB opposed the original requirements for mandatory retention for schools demonstrating improvement; believes amendments have substantially improved the bill.  Here are the key points:
·         Beginning 2017, certain students may not be promoted from first to second grade if scoring at lowest level on state reading test or alternative test; exceptions for ELL, special education; one year only.  (Currently, there are no plans for a state reading assessment in third grade.)
·         Applies only to districts with a percentage of students scoring at the lowest reading level greater than the state average; allows student to take a second test; allows promotion based on proficiency demonstrated through teacher-developed portfolio; parents can require the student be promoted after conference, or upon recommendation of teacher, principal and superintendent if parent fails to respond.
·         Schools must provide early screening, interventions.
·         Grants to school districts or non-profits for reading assistance programs through Children’s Cabinet.
·         Creates a task force to study interventions to improve reading.

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