Tuesday at the Capitol
- The House approved final changes to legislation dealing with state takeovers of public schools and municipalities. Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to sign the measure, which would allow emergency financial managers to throw out union contracts and overrule locally elected officials, including school board members. Media reports indicate that the legislation would have almost immediate impact on the state''s largest school district -- Detroit’s current emergency manager wants to turn 41 public schools into charter schools and the new legislation would allow him to do so without school board approval.
- The House Redistricting and Elections Committee took testimony Tuesday on House Bill 4005 and 4006 to force public schools and community colleges to hold board elections in November of even numbered years. MEA opposes this bill; election dates should be decided locally. Other groups that oppose the legislation including the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB), Michigan Association of School Administrators (MASA), and the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators (MAISA). MASB's Peter Spadafore said moving the elections will confuse voters and discourage individuals from running because it will cost more to campaign during already busy election cycles. A vote could be taken next week.
- School superintendents from Hanover-Horton, Concord, and Garden City and Avondale testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on School Aid Tuesday. Each superintendent spoke against further budget cuts, as outlined in Snyder's proposal. "The cuts to our district would be devastating," said Michelle Cline, superintendent of Garden City Public Schools, who added that her district would "almost undeniably shut our doors. . . . Passage of this budget would be crushing." The subcommittee doesn't yet have a formal budget bill; Snyder wants the budget completed by May 31.
- The House Oversight, Reform, and Ethics Committee approved House Bill 4059 to prohibit public employers from paying release time for union officers or bargaining representatives. The bill passed 4-2, with Republicans voting in favor and Democrats voting "no." MEA opposes the bill; please contact your state representative and senator and tell him/her to continue to allow local schools the ability to decide this issue at the local level.
Wednesday at the Capitol
- All MEA members are urged to get to the Capitol for an afternoon of protests about the ongoing attacks on working families and Michigan's Middle Class -- the theme is "We ARE the People" and we will stand strong with members of other labor and progressive organizations. The protest begins at noon and continues until at least 6 p.m. More details are available at www.mea.org.
- The House Education Committee will take testimony on a bill to force districts to get bids to outsource the jobs of many educational support professionals. MEA opposes House bill 4306 and one of our lobbyists will testify before the panel. If you plan to be in Lansing by 9 a.m. Wednesday, go to Room 519 of the House Office Building to monitor developments. For more information, go to www.mea.org/gov.
- The Senate Reforms, Restructuring and Reinventing Committee on Wednesday will listen to testimony about Senate Bill 7, a bill that would require all public employees pay a certain percentage of the cost of their health insurance. MEA opposes this bill -- the issue should be settled locally at the bargaining table, not in Lansing. In many instances, school employees have previously sacrificed wages or other benefits to maintain health insurance.
- The Senate Education Committee will take up House Bill 4152, a bill to freeze wages, including step increases, for public employees when a contract expires and before a new contract is negotiated. Employees who receive health, dental, vision, prescription, or other insurance benefits would have to pay any increased cost during that time. Employees could not receive any retroactive payments for wages or health insurance costs as part of settling the contract. MEA opposes the bill.
March 15, 2011