State Actions Update – February 2020

State Actions Update – February 2020

Alaska

  • The Senate Education Committee passed a bill that would help Alaska children read on grade level by the end of the third grade. SB6, sponsored by Sen. Begich, would enact the Alaska Reads Act, a statewide comprehensive reading policy. The bill will now be considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Arizona

  • The House passed legislation that signals the state’s support for greater innovation in schools and equity for its children. HB 2448, authored by Rep. Udall, would allow schools to submit an innovation plan and apply for flexibility from state policies, rules and seat time statutes that are obstacles to achieving a school’s innovation plan. It awaits further consideration in the Senate.
  • HB 2438, sponsored by Rep. Udall, also passed the House of Representatives. The legislation would help students obtain college credit by assisting with the Advanced Placement (AP) examination fee for students who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. The bill moves to the Senate for consideration.
  • SB 1224, sponsored by Sen. Allen, would expand the state’s Education Scholarship Account (ESA) program to allow Navajo children to continue to use their scholarship at a school just across state lines. The bill passed the Senate with amendments to provide greater checks and balances in the administration of the Empowerment Scholarship Account program. The bill next moves to the House for consideration.
  • HB 2484, sponsored by Rep. Carroll, passed the House Education Committee. The legislation would facilitate more informed college and career decisions by requiring the collection and distribution of information related to college and career pathways. The bill next moves to the House floor.

Colorado

  • The House Committee on Transportation and Local Government passed HB 20-1138, which would provide charter schools with a list of potential properties that could satisfy their facility needs through an online, publicly accessible inventory. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Coleman, will now be considered by the House Appropriations Committee.
  • HB 20-1288, sponsored by Rep. Rich, was introduced in the House. The legislation would grant greater transparency in the implementation of the Colorado Reads Act by requiring schools to post the reading curriculum, instructional programs and interventions on its website. Schools will also be required to post the number of students with reading plans, the number of students who have obtained competency and how the school is using intervention money. The bill next moves to the House Education Committee.
  • Rep. Bird introduced a bill that orders an audit of the State’s accountability system. HB 20-1295 could water down the accountability system before recent changes have time to make an impact. The bill next moves to the House Education Committee for consideration.

Florida

  • SB 1220, sponsored by Sen. Diaz was approved Tuesday by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education. There are many good components in the bill, but as a statement by Foundation for Florida’s Future Executive Director, Patricia Levesque, said, students and families will have more educational opportunities if the Senate adopts proposals in House Bill 7067. SB 1220 would:
    • Increase the number of scholarships available annually for the Florida Empowerment Scholarship Program;
    • Allow students receiving a Florida Tax Credit Scholarship to remain in the program regardless of increase in household income;
    • Provides additional educational and professional development options for teachers.
  • HB 7067, sponsored by Rep. Sullivan  passed the House Appropriations Committee. Patricia Levesque also praised the bill. The bill:
    • Increases the number of scholarships available annually for the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program;
    • Expands eligibility of the Florida Empower Scholarship by removing the prior public school requirement for grades 1 and 2;
    • Provides automatic 25% increase in household income when more than 5% of total available scholarships have not been awarded;
    • Allows students receiving a Florida Tax Credit Scholarship to remain in the program regardless of increase in household income;
    • Modifies other provisions regarding Hope Scholarship, Gardiner Scholarship Program, standardized assessments, civic literacy and Pathways in Technology Early College High School Program.
  • HB 7097, sponsored by Rep. Avila passed the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill requires that school capital outlay surtaxes approved by voters in the future be proportionately shared with charter schools. Several other tax reductions and tax-related modifications are included in this bill.
  • HB 523, sponsored by Rep. DiCeglie which would allow additional school districts and lab schools to apply to the Mastery-based Education Pilot Program, has passed the House and is waiting to be heard in the Senate.
  • SB 836, sponsored by Sen. David Simmons, R-Longwood, passed the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill would include incentive funding in the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) for school districts with students earning an Advanced Placement (AP) Capstone Diploma and a standard high school diploma.
  • SB 1688, sponsored by Sen. Harrell passed the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education. The bill revamps early learning programs, including the Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) Program and School Readiness.
  • HB 171, sponsored by Rep. Ponder passed the House floor and was sent to the Senate. The bill would:
    • Provide a uniform process for active military and veterans to earn postsecondary credit and clock hours for military education and credentials; and
    • Require the Board of Governors and State Board of Education to annually adopt the Articulation Coordinating Committee’s list of postsecondary course equivalencies and minimum postsecondary credit or career education clock hours that must be awarded for courses taken and occupations held by individuals while serving in the military.
  • HB 395, a transportation bill by Rep. Andrade includes language that extends the time a servicemember has to apply for a commercial driver license after they separate from the military. The bill passed the House State Affairs Committee.

Georgia

  • A bill that would make several improvements to the state’s charter school policies was introduced by Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones and advanced by the House Education Committee. HB 957clarifies that state charter teachers are eligible to participate in the state health benefit plan; fixes an enrollment issue with charter lotteries; and clarifies stewardship of charter student records, among other items. The bill awaits consideration by the full House.
  • Dave Belton’s bill to give locally approved charter schools a clearer picture of the funds that they are receiving, compared with those that they are entitled to, passed the House Education Committee. HB 755 awaits consideration by the full House.
  • SB 386 would allow students with 504 plans, and others, to access the state’s voucher program for students with special needs. The legislation was introduced by Sen. Renee Unterman and was heard for the first time in the Senate Education Committee. The bill would also improve program transparency and reduce regulatory burdens on participating families.
  • John Carson introduced HB 939, which would end the sunset on the expanded portion of the state’s $100 million tax credit scholarship program. By preserving the program at current funding levels, this legislation would ensure continued educational opportunities for thousands of Georgia families.
  • A testing reduction bill, sponsored by Senate Education Chair P.K. Martin, passed the Senate Education Committee. SB 367 would make several changes, including eliminating five of seven state assessments currently administered beyond federal requirements and prioritizing the reduction of local assessments.
  • In an effort to further strengthen the state’s college and career pathways, Senate Education Chair P.K. Martin introduced SB 447 and SR 833. The former would provide for definitions around work based learning and related programs and the latter would create the Joint Study Committee on Preparing Our Future Workforce.

Idaho

  • Through the process of reauthorizing the State’s rules, the Legislature considered retaining or sunsetting the state’s high academic standards for English, math and science. The House Education Committee voted first, favoring to change the state’s academic standards. Members of the Senate Education Committee subsequently voted to uphold Idaho’s academic standards, ensuring that schools have consistent and continued rigorous standards.

Illinois

  • HB 4703, authored by Rep. Mayfield, would improve early literacy in Illinois. The bill provides for evidence-based early literacy intervention, summer camps and intensive acceleration courses to help students with reading comprehension. The bill also calls for the retention of students in 3rd grade who are not proficient in reading. This bill is scheduled for a hearing next month.

Indiana

  • HB 1003, a school innovation and flexibility waiver bill recently passed the Senate Education and Career Development Committee and Senate Appropriation Committee. This bill, authored 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.
  • Foster children will be automatically eligible for vouchers if HB 1066 becomes law. This legislation, authored by Rep. Thompson, would also allow for easier transportation of students from career and technical education programs, and it provides an enrollment preference policy for siblings of students in charter schools. This bill passed out of the Senate Education and Career Development Committee.
  • Indiana would have more access to federal education dollars if SB 142 becomes law. This legislation calls for an amendment of the state’s Medicaid plan to allow for reimbursements for school-based services covered by Medicaid. Authored by Sen. Zay, this legislation is being considered in the House Ways and Means Committee.
  • A school accreditation bill, SB 455, authored by Sen. Buchanan, streamlines the state’s multiple accreditation systems into one. If passed, this bill will provide flexibility for private schools looking to be accredited by the state by allowing them to request waivers from certain laws. SB 455 passed the House Education Committee and is now on the House floor for further consideration.
  • SB 195, a career and technical education bill, passed the Senate and is currently awaiting consideration in the House Education Committee. This legislation, sponsored by Sen. Koch, specifically focuses on creating pathways for students to the electric and utility industries. This bill would allow students to have better educational opportunities to align their courses to high wage, in-demand career opportunities.

Iowa

  • HF 663, sponsored by Rep. Gassman, would establish an education scholarship account grant program to offer increased choice opportunities for students in Iowa. This legislation is being considered in the House Education Committee and has been recommended for passage by its subcommittee.
  • SF 2206, sponsored by Sen. Carlin, would create the Iowa Student Opportunity Act. This bill creates an education scholarship account grant program for students who attend a school identified for support and improvement under the Every Student Succeeds Act. It is currently being considered in the Senate Education Committee.

Kansas

  • HB 2465, sponsored by Rep. Huebert, would expand Kansas’s tax credit scholarship for low-income students by eliminating some student eligibility requirements, such as having to attend one of the state’s lowest 100 performing schools. This legislation recently passed the House K-12 Education Budget Committee and now awaits consideration on the House floor.
  • HB 2552, sponsored by Rep. Williams, would create the Kansas Reading Readiness Act. This reading voucher bill passed the House K-12 Budget Committee and is now on the floor for further consideration. This bill would offer struggling readers more access to reading interventions and support, which could be used in both public and private schools.

Kentucky

Two bills have been introduced that would strengthen college and career pathways:

  • SB 101, by Majority Whip Mike Wilson, would require public colleges and universities to honor high school career pathways. The bill passed the full Senate unanimously and moves to the House Education Committee for consideration.
  • HB 419, by Rep. Bobby McCool, would require the Council on Postsecondary Education to annually compile and publish data on in-demand jobs, college costs and student success rates. The bill awaits consideration by the House Education Committee.

Mississippi

  • The Senate Education committee passed SB 2286, the Early Learning Collaborative legislation by Sen. Wiggins, which now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee. This bill increases the state’s per-pupil funding levels for the Early Literacy Collaborative program to serve more pre-kindergarten students across Mississippi. This program has wide support among lawmakers, as it is considered a national model with high quality benchmarks and favorable outcomes for preschool students.
  • The Senate Education committee passed SB 2594 to extend the Education Scholarship Accounts Program for special needs students for another four years and included academic accountability provisions.
  • Senate Education Committee Chair Debar’s teacher pay raise bill, SB 2001, has passed the Senate and is awaiting consideration in the House Appropriations Committee. If passed, this bill would give an estimated $1,000 across-the-board raises to most teachers and all teachers’ assistants.

Missouri

  • Companion bills HB 2068 and SB 581 create the Show Me a Brighter Future Scholarship Act, a tax credit scholarship that would allow low-income students to receive K-12 scholarships through Missouri’s 529 program and would provide donors a tax credit for their contribution. HB 2068, sponsored Fitzwater, passed the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee. SB 581, sponsored by Sen. Cierpiot, passed the Senate Education Committee and is up for consideration on the Senate floor.
  • If passed, HB 1733, establishes the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Account Program. This legislation by Rep. Christofanelli has passed both the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and the House Rules and Oversight Committee. Partner bill, SB 707, sponsored by Sen. Koenig, is awaiting consideration in the Senate Education Committee. These bills would allow for students with disabilities, military children, children who are wards of the state, and high schoolers in career and technical education programs to receive scholarships to attend schools that best fit their needs.
  • Missouri SB 649, sponsored by Sen. Eigel, allows for the expansion of public charter schools in any city with more than 30,000 residents. Currently, charter schools are mostly limited to students residing in Kansas City and St. Louis. This bill is being heard on the Senate Floor. SB 603, by Sen. O’Laughlin, also modifies provisions to allow charter schools to be operated in a county or city with a population greater than 30,000. This bill is being heard on the Senate Floor.
  • Funding would follow the student to their charter school if SB 734 becomes law. This charter funding bill, sponsored by Sen. Emery, would mandate school districts to pay charter schools a portion of both state and local dollars for the children that are enrolled from that district. It is being heard in the Senate Education Committee.

Nebraska

  • LB1202, sponsored by Sen. Linehan, creates a tax credit scholarship so low-income students will be able to attend a school that best fits their needs. This bill was heard in the Senate Revenue Committee.

New Hampshire

  • Last year, the Granite State received the federal Charter School Program grant that would award $46 million to help create new public charter schools across the state. The New Hampshire Department of Education must first receive approval of the Legislature to accept and expend these funds. Unfortunately, the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee has twice voted to reject the funds. In response, Sen. Bradley introduced SB 747, which would allow the New Hampshire Department of Education to accept the grant without legislative approval. The bill awaits consideration by the Senate Finance Committee.

Oklahoma

  • Sen. Quinn introduced SB 1472 to improve public school choice in Oklahoma by clarifying how and when a student can transfer to another public school as well as limiting a school’s ability to turn students away when they are below capacity. The bill next moves to the Senate Education Committee for consideration.
  • Sen. Quinn introduced a second bill, similar to SB 1472, that is also designed to improve public school choice. However, SB 1476 simply removes the requirement that a transfer student obtain the receiving school’s permission when transferring, while retaining other aspects of the Open Transfer Act. The bill next moves to the Senate Education Committee for consideration.
  • Rep. Taylor introduced the Students’ Right to Know Act. HB 3300 will require the state to compile and distribute career-related and higher education information to better inform students’ decisions. The bill next moves to the House Rules Committee for consideration.

South Carolina

  • A bill creating education scholarship accounts for high-need students has received several hearings in a Senate Education subcommittee. As introduced, S 556, by Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, would serve students with special needs and those from lower-income, military or foster care households.
  • Debate on Senate Education Chair Greg Hembree’s comprehensive education reform bill continues on the Senate floor. S 419 aims to make significant improvements in early literacy, college and career readiness, next generation learning and other areas.
  • Meanwhile, the House, which passed the original version of the omnibus in 2019 (a priority of Speaker Jay Lucas), this year has been advancing individual components via separate legislation. These include H 4761 by Rep. Lucas, which features many of the early literacy improvements contained in the omnibus.

Tennessee

  • Applications for Tennessee’s new ESA program for students from lower-income families in Memphis and Nashville public schools are expected to open in the first part of March.
  • HB 2229 by Rep. Lamberth was heard for the first time in a House Education subcommittee. The legislation carries Governor Bill Lee’s early literacy priorities, including teacher training on the science of reading, in-classroom supports and tools for the early identification of struggling readers. Its Senate counterpart, SB 2160, was introduced by Sen. Johnson.
  • Senate Education Chair Dolores Gresham introduced SB 2337, which would prevent the Commissioner of Education from changing significant portions of the accountability system without approval from the State Board of Education. The companion bill is HB 1934 by Speaker Pro Tem Bill Dunn.
  • As introduced, Rep. Cepicky’s HB 1687 would have required the State Board of Education to abolish science and social studies standards for K-2 students. The bill was amended by a House Education subcommittee to remove the core language and advanced to the full committee.
  • HB 1822 by Rep. Dixie, which would require automatic enrollment of eligible students in advanced courses, was amended and passed by the full House Education Committee. The bill now moves to the House Calendar and Rules Committee. The companion bill, SB 2578, was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Yarbro.
  • HB 1993, Speaker Pro Tem Bill Dunn’s bill would make it easier for students to choose a different public school within their home district. This legislation passed the House Education Committee and now moves to the House Calendar and Rules Committee. Its companion, SB 2343, by Senate Education Chair Dolores Gresham, awaits consideration in her committee.
  • Volunteer State students would have more flexibility to transfer to public schools outside their home districts if SB 2180 by Sen. Niceley becomes law. The bill has passed the Senate Education Committee; its companion, HB 2869 by Rep. Coley, awaits consideration by a House Education subcommittee.
  • HB 1894 by Rep. DeBerry and companion SB 2349 by Gresham were introduced to remove the requirement that students with special needs be previously enrolled in a public school for two semesters prior to receiving an Individualized Education Account, the state’s original ESA program.

Utah

  • HB 332, sponsored by Rep. Schultz, passed the House Revenue and Taxation Committee. The legislation would create a special needs tax credit scholarship program that expands opportunity to more students beyond those who are currently able to participate in the Carson Smith Scholarship Program. The bill next moves to the House floor for consideration.

Virginia

  • Legislators in both the House and Senate voted unanimously to pass HB 836, sponsored by Del. Carrol Foy. If the legislation becomes law, the Department of Education would be required to develop and adopt standards for micro-credentials earned by public school teachers. The bill awaits approval from Governor Ralph Northam.

Wisconsin

  • If AB 849 becomes law, students would have more flexibility to take courses from other schools and districts that may not be offered at their current school. Sponsored by Rep. Thiesfeldt, this course access bill has passed the Assembly and will receive a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Education. Companion bill, SB 789, would expand the part-time open enrollment program to grades other than high school so more students have the opportunity to take classes at another educational institution. Sponsored by Sen. Darling, this bill is waiting to be heard in the Senate Committee on Education.
  • A school funding transparency bill (AB 810) sponsored by Rep. Felzkowski, was passed on the Assembly floor and will now receive a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Education. This legislation would allow greater financial transparency for the public to see how and where education funding is being spent. A companion bill, SB 743, would create a more transparent accounting system for schools and families in Wisconsin. Sponsored by Sen. Darling, this bill is waiting to be read in the Senate Committee on Education.