Last week marked the final week for the legislature to hear bills in the chamber they were introduced. For example, bills introduced in the House of Representatives must have been heard in a House Committee for them to continue moving through the legislative process.
Over the next couple of weeks, bills will make their way to the opposite chamber for hearings and ultimately to the Governor’s desk. At this point in the session, budget talks begin in earnest as agency budgets are reviewed by the Appropriations Committees.
We were very pleased to see the Governor’s Executive Budget proposal included an increase for early literacy grants (from $8 million to $12 million) and a plan to restore ongoing additional assistance cuts for school districts and charter schools. Stand supports these continued investments into K-12 education.
This year Stand’s legislative priorities focus on early literacy and English Language Learner (ELL) reform. We have 2 pieces of legislation moving through focusing on these priorities:
HB 2520 seeks to improve existing statutes on early literacy policies and practices by ensuring schools are using current evidence-based strategies to support struggling readers in grades K-3. Additionally, the bill makes sure funding awarded through the Early Literacy Grant is targeted to receive the best return on investment.
HB 2435 resulted from Stand’s work in Phoenix school districts and our parent members’ experience with the current state of ELL instructional practices. With the leadership of Representative Paul Boyer, the House Education Chairman, Stand convened stakeholders and developed legislation to make desperately needed changes in Arizona’s ELL policies. The bill allows local school districts and charter schools the flexibility to address the needs of their ELL students while ensuring the best instructional practices are utilized.
Both bills passed unanimously out of the House Education Committee and both passed off the House Floor earlier this week. Soon, they will move to the Senate and will need to pass a vote in the Senate Education Committee, and then the full senate.
Stand will continue to advocate for these priorities as the legislative session continues.