Information on the current legislation and legislative news.
In the final weeks of the legislative session, state lawmakers are considering bills that would strip away local communities’ ability to guide education policy, by creating a statewide "takeover district."
So-called "Right to Work" legislation is likely to move through the Legislature as early as next week. Right-wing legislators are hoping that MEA members will be too distracted by the holiday season to notice.
Members of the state House Education Committee were "extremely confused" about legislation to create a statewide takeover district during a committee hearing Monday, according to the Gongwer News Service -- another sign that they should not attempt to pass such radical school overhauls in the lame duck session.
The panel was hearing testimony on House Bill 6004, which would expand the authority of the interlocal agreement between Detroit Public Schools and Eastern Michigan University that created the Education Achievement Authority.
The legislation would expand the EAA to the entire state, allowing it to absorb schools deemed by arbitrary and flawed ratings to be in the bottom 5 percent.
Legislation that would eliminate a local community's ability to guide education policy by creating a statewide "takeover district" appears to be headed for quick action in the Legislature after the Thanksgiving holiday.
House Bills 5923 and 6004 expand the authority of the interlocal agreement between Detroit Public Schools and Eastern Michigan University that created the Education Achievement Authority, a virtual school district. The legislation would expand the EAA's current reach from Detroit to the entire state, allowing Lansing bureaucrats to assume many of responsibilities currently entrusted to local school board members, parents and educators.
This statewide takeover district would oversee schools deemed by arbitrary and flawed ratings to be in the bottom 5 percent. Creating a cold, impersonal statewide school district would eliminate time-honored "neighborhood schools," further eroding the public school system.
The Governor's ink was barely dry on PA 300 (originally SB 1040) yesterday afternoon when MEA and AFT/Michigan were in court winning two temporary restraining orders on parts of the new law. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina issued the TROs and promised a full hearing on the constitutionality of the new law this fall.
Today, the Michigan Court of Appeals decided 2-1
to let the constitutional amendment protecting collective bargaining and working families go before the voters on Nov. 6. The Michigan Supreme Court gave the Appeals Court until today to make a decision. It's still not certain what position the issue will have on the ballot, but it is certain critics of the amendment will appeal to the Supreme Court.
It may be last week's Supreme Court ruling to put the casino ballot proposal on the Nov. 6 ballot that paved the way for today's Court of Appeals' decision. The lower court rejected the casino proposal on the grounds that it would create sweeping changes to the Constitution--the same argument being used to reject the collective bargaining amendment. When the Supreme Court overturned the lower court's ruling on casinos, it seemed inevitable that the nearly 700,000 voters who signed the collective bargaining petitions would have a chance to decide the issue on Nov. 6.
Gov. Snyder and Attorney Bill Schuette launched a formal attack on voter rights yesterday when they filed court papers to block the constitutional amendment to protect collective bargaining and the middle class from the November ballot. The two claim that the amendment changes too many laws to be listed in the 100-word statement of purpose for the ballot and should therefore be denied a place on the ballot.
At the request of the Governor, Schuette issued an opinion stating that “the Governor and lawmakers have enacted reforms that have led to economic growth and budget stability.” The concern is that the ballot proposal could undo all of that.
Andrew Nickelhoff, attorney for the Protect Our Jobs campaign, discounted Schuette’s opinion since it’s based on faulty legal reasoning and the proposal has already met all legal requirements.
IMPACT OF SB 1040 H-3, as Finalized by the Legislature 8/15/12
For current retirees under age 65 and those who retire January 1, 2013 or later:
Will pay 20% of MPSERS health premium. Retirees currently pay roughly 10% for self and any dependents, except that retirees on Medicare pay only the Medicare premium on themselves and 10% of the MPSERS premium for any dependents.
For retirees who are 65 or older, who are Medicare-eligible and have retired by January 1, 2013
Unfortunately the House voted 57-48 in favor the (MPSERS) overhaul, a compromise that includes a study to fully transition from a defined benefit (DB) to a defined contribution (DC) system. Earlier in the day the Senate passed the bill, SB 1040, by a vote of 21-16, sending it to the House. The bill moved to the Governor's office for his signature.
The changes made in this version include the following:
There's little good news in the Senate and House finally voting out SB 1040 today. On a 21-6 Senate vote and a 57-48 House vote, they increased current employee contributions to their pensions, increased retirees' share of their health insurance, and ended retiree health insurance for new hires.
"This bill is not fair. It just shifts costs around and solves nothing," said Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) who spoke in opposition to the bill.
Under SB 1040, new hires will not be moved to a defined contribution retirement benefit. They will stay in the current hybrid system which combines a defined benefit and defined contribution mix. New to the bill, is the call for a study of the financial impact moving new hires to the defined contribution would cause. The study will be done by Nov. 15.