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After heated debate, committee reshuffling--House Education Committee lifts charter school cap

After a hurried reshuffling of the House Education Committee yesterday to ensure the needed votes, the Committee today reported out SB 618, which would raise the cap on charter schools.

The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.  Contact your state representative today -- urge him or her to vote NO on SB 618 that would allow for unlimited charter schools, regardless of the quality of those schools and the resources they draw away from neighborhood schools.

In advance of today's vote, House Speaker Jase Bolger announced late Tuesday that Rep. Holly Hughes (R-White River Township) was being replaced by Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons (R-Alto) on the House Education Committee. Hughes continually wavered on the charter school cap issue but Bolger claims his move protected her politically from both the MEA and Republican constituencies. What it really did was assure passage of the bill, despite opposition from within the Republican caucus.

Michigan finally has anti-bullying legislation

The Senate wasted no time in passing HB 4163, anti-bullying legislation that does not contain any exemptions for religious or moral grounds.

The Senate made it clear before their break that passage of the House’s version would be taken up immediately upon their return. SB 137 caused controversy nationwide because it allowed bullying in certain instances.

Democrats offered amendments to address cyber-bullying, to provide a list of groups included under the bill and to require reporting of bullying instances to the Department of Education. All amendments failed on party-line vote.

The bill now goes to Gov. Snyder for his signature. 

House will change Senate's anti-bullying bill

Senate Minority Floor Leader Gretchen Whitmer’s D-East Lansing) passionate speech against SB 137 went viral on YouTube with more than 300,000 hits.

House Education Committee takes up SB 618

After much debate, the Senate narrowly passed SB 618 and the same debate seems to be brewing in the House Education Committee as expressed by the Committee Vice Chair Rep. Tom Hooker (R-Byron Center). A former teacher, Hooker is concerned that the bill to lift the cap on charter schools may harm traditional public schools. While he supports the idea of giving parents choices, he said he has no position on the bill right now.

Senate passes SB 137; Dems call it “Republican license to bully”

On a 26-11 vote, the Senate passed SB 137 that requires schools districts to have an anti-bullying policy. The bill sparked heated debate, with Democrats criticizing the bill for the loopholes that allow bullying to still happen. Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) is sponsor of the bill.

As passed, the bill provides no real protection against bullying. It allows bullying comments which stem from religious beliefs; it lists no protections for homosexual or disabled students; and it excludes cyber-bullying.

Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) blasted the bill for having holes big enough “to drive a Mack truck through and was “worse than doing nothing.” In passionate support of her “no” vote on the bill, Whitmer called the legislation a “Republican license to bully.”

Senate Committee hears testimony on HB 4059

The Senate Reforms, Restructuring and Reinventing Committee heard testimony today on HB 4059 which would prohibit a school district from entering into a contract that pays union officials for time spent conducting union business. 

Senate Committee takes up HB 4059

This Wednesday, the Senate Reforms, Restructuring and Reinventing Committee will take up HB 4059 which would prohibit a school district from entering into a contract that pays union officials for time conducting union business. The bill was introduced by Rep. Marty Knollenberg (R-Troy). Supporters of the bill say that money should be going into the classroom and not into the pockets of union officials and union dues should fund union activities

Senate passes so-called education reform bills

Today, the Senate passed SB 619, 621-623, 709, and 710—all part of the so-called education reform package. The bills passed on party-line votes with SB 619 barely squeaking by.  The bills have been referred to the House Education Committee. Only SB 624—mandating schools of choice—is left after tie bars to the bill were broken.

Despite testimony and research showing cyber schools are not an effective alternative to traditional schools, SB 619 removes all limitations on cyber schools. Democrats offered five amendments—one to limit the amount of state aid a cyber school student would receive to 50 percent; another to require a cyber school website that included management and third-party vendor contracts; and another to make the student/teacher ratio be equivalent to that of public schools—but all of them failed. Sen. Hoon-Young Hopgood (D-Taylor) chastised the Senate for “putting on the blinders” about the effectiveness of cyber schools.

School employee relatives barred from school board

Citing a blatant conflict of interest, Sen. Joe Hune (R-Hamburg) last week introduced SB 773 which would prohibit the spouse, child, parent or sibling of school employees from serving on the district’s school board. 

Senate committee passes substitutes to so-called education reform package

After hearing brief testimony from community college representatives on SB 622-623 and SB 709-10—all of which expand dual enrollment—the Senate Education Committee passed a series of amendments to SB 620, 623, 709-10 in the so-called education reform package.

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