State Actions Update – January 2020

State Actions Update – January 2020

Alaska

  • SB 151, sponsored by Gov. Dunleavy, received its first hearing in the Senate Education Committee. The legislation would help ensure Alaska students can read on grade level by the end of third grade by creating a comprehensive early literacy policy, called the Alaska Reads Act.
     

Arizona

  • Udall introduced HB 2448 to provide waivers from state rules and policies that impede educators from pursuing innovative and personalized learning models. It will send a clear message that Arizona encourages innovation and will partner with school leaders to remove obstacles to finding new or better ways to meet the unique learning needs of the state’s students.
     

Colorado

  • HB 1002—sponsored by Representatives Barbara McLachlan, Mark Baisley and Cathy Kipp, and Senators Rachel Zenzinger and Tammy Story—was unanimously passed by the House Education Committee. The legislation would recognize the value of experiential learning by granting college credit to students for demonstrating competencies gained through work-related experience, such as apprenticeships. The bill next moves to House Appropriations Committee.

 

Florida

  • Both the House and Senate have private school choice bills moving through the process. SB 1220 by Sen. Manny Diaz, Jr. increases the income eligibility of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship to 300 percent of Federal Poverty Level and allows students to take up to two virtual courses per academic year. The House Education Committee unanimously passed PCB EDC 20-01, by Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, which expands the Family Empowerment Scholarship by:
    • Increasing the number of scholarships added annually by 1 percent of total public school enrollment;
    • Removing the prior public school requirement for first and second grade students; and
    • Providing an automatic trigger to increase the income eligibility level by 25 percent if 5 percent or less of the scholarships are available.
  • Both chambers proposed increases to the Gardiner Scholarship Program, which is Florida’s education scholarship account for students with unique abilities. Sen. Kelli Stargel, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, proposed a $42 million increase while her House counterpart, Rep. Chris Latvala, Chair of the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee, proposed a $20 million increase.
  • Hundreds of families from across the state attended the Gardiner Celebration Rally at the Capitol, as did Gov. Ron DeSantis, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, Senate President Bill Galvano, Senate Education Committee Chair Manny Diaz, Jr., Sen. Keith Perry and Rep. James Bush, III.
  • Gov. Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran announced recommendations for revisions to the Florida Standards. The proposed Florida Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking (B.E.S.T.) summary documents are available here. It’s important to note that the standards themselves have not yet been released.
  • The Florida Department of Education released preliminary findings from the first annual Career and Technical Education Audit that was required by legislation passed last year.
  • A proposal—requiring revenues from voted discretionary sales surtax referendum to be shared with charter schools based on their proportionate share of total school district enrollment—passed both the Senate Education and Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education as part of SB 62 by Sen. Kelli Stargel.
  • HB 953, by Rep. Stan McClain, authorizes state colleges and universities to sponsor charter schools and passed the PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee and Appropriations Committee. The bill next moves to the Education Committee.
  • HB 523 by Rep. Nick DiCeglie regarding mastery-based education passed both the PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee and PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee with unanimous votes. The bill next moves to the House Education Committee.
  • Legislation that would assist veterans, reservists and state guard members to achieve their educational goals passed all committees in both the House and the Senate. HB 171, by Rep. Mel Ponder, and SB 372, by Sen. Tom Lee, are waiting to be heard on the floor of their respective chamber.
  • Language that expands the timeframe when eligible veterans, reservists and National Guard members may apply for a Commercial Driver License was amended onto HB 395, by Rep. Alex Andrade regarding transportation, and SB 474, by Sen. Ben Albritton regarding deregulation of professions and occupations.
     

Georgia 

  • Two charter school priority bills have been introduced. HB 755, by Rep. Dave Belton, would improve financial transparency between districts and locally authorized charters, while HB 764, by Rep. Todd Jones, would make unused state facilities available to charters.
  • HB 444, a priority of Gov. Brian Kemp and sponsored by Rep. Bert Reeves, passed the Senate following changes by the Senate Higher Education Committee. The legislation, which streamlines dual enrollment opportunities for Georgia students, returns to the House for consideration.

 

Indiana

  • Students would have better educational opportunities to align their credentials with the demands of Indiana’s high-skilled industries if SB 195 becomes law. This legislation, sponsored by Sen. Koch, specifically focuses on creating pathways for students to the electric and utility industries. This bill would ensure that any future career clusters and courses created by the State Board of Education will consider whether the course or sequence is tied to high wage, high demand career opportunities. The Senate passed this legislation, and the bill next moves to the House for consideration.
  • HB 1003, a school innovation and flexibility waiver bill, passed unanimously in the House and now awaits consideration in the Senate. This bill, sponsored by Rep Jordan, will allow the State Board of Education to approve flexibility waiver requests from schools for education laws and rules if the school can show it has an innovative program that is hindered by current law. Companion bill, SB 295, sponsored by Sen. Raatz, which would create a state Innovation Council to allow schools to apply for flexibility waivers, is still in the Senate Committee on Education and Career Development.
  • If HB 1066 becomes law, foster children in Indiana will be eligible for choice scholarships. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Thompson, will also allow for easier transportation of students from career and technical education programs and provides an enrollment preference policy for siblings of students in charter schools. This bill passed the House and moves to the Senate for consideration.

 

Kansas

  • HB 2465 was heard this week in the Kansas K-12 Budget Committee. This bill, authored by Rep. Huebert, would expand student eligibility in Kansas’s tax credit scholarship system by eliminating student eligibility requirements such as having to attend one of the state’s lowest 100 performing schools.

 

Kentucky

  • House Majority Whip Chad McCoy and Sen. Ralph Alvarado filed legislation (HB 350 and SB 110, respectively) that would create a $25 million Tax Credit Scholarship Program serving 7,000 students with special needs or from lower-income families.
  • Deanna Frazier introduced HB 263, which aims to increase participation in computer science courses by underrepresented groups.

 

Missouri

  • Senator Cierpiot introduced the “Show me a Brighter Future Scholarship Act.” This bill, SB 581, would allow low-income students and parents the ability to receive K-12 scholarships through Missouri’s 529 program and would provide donors a tax credit for their contribution. This bill passed the Senate Ways and Means Committee and will now await consideration in the Senate floor.
  • Legislation to modify provisions for charter schools is now being heard in the Senate Government Reform Committee. This legislation, SB 603, sponsored by Sen. O’Laughlin, expands access to public charter schools beyond large cities so students can have greater choices across Missouri.
  • SB 649, sponsored by Sen Bill Eigel, allows for the expansion of public charter schools in any city with more than 30,000 residents. The Missouri Senate General Laws Committee approved this bill that expands educational opportunities for families by adding access to public charter schools beyond large cities. The bill awaits consideration in the Senate.

 

North Carolina

  • The General Assembly convened on January 14. The Senate considered—but ultimately opted not to hold—a floor vote on overriding Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of the two-year budget, which the House had previously overridden. The budget, HB 966, would make significant upgrades to North Carolina’s Read to Achieve early literacy framework, and includes additional improvements in computer science, college and career readiness and school choice. Lawmakers adjourned until late April (barring any new special sessions), at which time the veto override could again be considered.

 

South Carolina

  • S 556, an ESA proposal by Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, received several hearings in a Senate Education subcommittee. As introduced, the program would serve students with special needs and those from lower-income, military or foster care households.
  • S 419, a comprehensive education reform bill by Senate Education Chairman Greg Hembree, was advanced by the committee and continues to be debated by the full Senate. The bill aims to make significant improvements in early literacy, computer science, college and career readiness, school turnaround and other areas.

 

Tennessee

  • A joint meeting of the House and Senate Government Operations Committees approved rules for the implementation of Tennessee’s new ESA program for students from lower-income families in Memphis and Nashville public schools. If the Secretary of State’s Office follows suit, the approval paves the way for families to begin applying to the program for the Fall semester.

 

Virginia

  • Simonds introduced legislation requiring students in grades 6-8 complete a computer science elective or introduction to technology course, starting in 2025. HB 694 would give students the opportunity to prepare for high-demand careers in computer science and similar fields.
  • Legislation for STEM-focused teacher micro-credentials passed the House Education Pre-K–12 Subcommittee. HB 836, by Del. Foy, would require the Virginia Department of Education to develop and adopt standards for micro-credentials earned by public school teachers. It awaits consideration in the House Education Committee.
  • HB 953, which would establish the STEAM Education Fund, passed the House Education Pre-K– 12 Subcommittee and moves to the House Appropriation Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee. The bill, sponsored by Del. Ayala, would award grants of up to $50,000 to public elementary and secondary schools that provide STEM-focused curriculum.

 

West Virginia

  • House Education Chairwoman Rucker introduced SB 515 and House Education Vice Chairman Higginbotham introduced HB 2002. Both pieces of legislation aim to increase school choice via the creation of an education savings account program for West Virginia students. These bills have been referred to the corresponding chambers’ Education Committees.