Session Wrap Up

On Thursday, June 8, following a mad scramble to pass a budget and vote on other last-minute concurrences, the Legislature adjourned sine die. Included in the budget was $197 million dedicated to a teacher and support personnel bonus. Teachers will receive $2,000 and support workers, $1,000. The MFP did not pass, which means that this is a one-year appropriation but the House passed a resolution to ask BESE to include this amount when it creates next year’s MFP. Also included in funding were dollars for apprenticeships and differentiated funding for stipends for teachers who work in schools with a majority of students who are economically disadvantaged. It could also be used for courses where there are shortages. Additionally, $44 million was appropriated for early childhood education.

Though a fiscal session, there was quite a bit of activity in the education and criminal justice arenas. We are very happy to report that, due to your contacts with legislators, Stand’s primary legislative goals were achieved.

A priority bill for Stand was SB 111 by Sen. Royce Duplessis, which would provide resources for system upgrades to the Louisiana Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information and the Louisiana Supreme Court Case Management Information System in order to make the records expungement process more efficient and less costly.

The bill was passed favorably out of four committees and passed both the Senate and House floors with large margins. On June 6, the Senate concurred in the House amendments and on June 8 the bill was sent to the Governor to be signed.

Stand worked with the NEO coalition to pass the bill, which has been introduced in the Legislature for years but has previously not been successful. A recent poll commissioned by Stand showed that the concept was very popular with Republican and Independent voters and Stand effectively communicated that message to the largely conservative members of the Legislature.

As passed, SB 111:

  • Clarifies that the legislation does not impair the use of expunged records by law enforcement particularly for the purposes of bail setting and sentencing.
  • Authorizes the Louisiana Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information to assign a case number to each record in its database and final dispositions for those records already eligible for expungement.
  • Beginning January 1, 2025, a defendant may make an online request for an automated expungement. The expungement must be initiated within 30 days of the receipt of the request. The expungement is then sent to the Louisiana Supreme Court Case Management Information System. Within 30 days of receipt of the request of the records, the Louisiana Supreme Court must send notice of the expungement to the clerks of Louisiana’s district courts who then transmits the information to District Attorneys, Sheriffs and arresting agencies, who must acknowledge the expungement and sequester the records.
  • The bill did not expand the list of offenses eligible for expungement.
  • The legislation may be found here

Many thanks to Sen. Duplessis and the other legislators who passed this critical bill. This legislation will allow more citizens to get jobs, housing, and better the lives of themselves and their families while helping to improve the economy via a stronger workforce. Many thanks also to all of you who reached out to legislators throughout the committee and floor processes to support SB 111. Your contacts worked.

A second priority bill was SB 177 by Sen. Patrick McMath. This bill provides for high-dosage tutoring for students who score less than proficient in reading and/or math on state tests. The bill easily passed in both the House and Senate but a late amendment which would have gutted the bill threw the bill into Conference Committee. Fortunately, with little time to spare, the Conference Committee deleted the bad amendment and the Conference Committee report was accepted by both chambers.

In other legislation previously reported on:

  • HB 164 by Rep. Kenny Cox which would have lowered from 17 to 15 the required ACT score to qualify for a TOPS-Tech award. TOPS-Tech is a merit-based scholarship and lowering the ACT would result in watering down standards. When the bar is lowered, too often students do not get the specialized attention they may need to be successful. The bill garnered substantial opposition, including Stand, and it died in the Appropriations Committee.
  • Stand supported HB 462 by Rep. Rick Edmonds which would require public school governing authorities to post fiscal information on their websites. HB 462 passed in both chambers and has been sent to the Governor for his signature.
  • Stand also supported HB 242 by Rep. Stephanie Hilferty which would prohibit any form of corporal punishment in public schools unless a parent or legal guardian provides written consent for the use of corporal punishment as a form of discipline for the child. It also requires the state Dept. of Education to create the document with which a parent would provide consent each school year. This bill prohibits any form of corporal punishment for students with exceptionalities. SB 242 passed the Legislature and has been sent to the Governor.
  • In an effort to improve Louisiana students’ math performance, Rep. Richard Nelson introduced HB 326, a bill that Stand supported that would require foundational numeracy skills standards as a component of teacher education programs. SB 163 by Sen. Sharon Hewitt also passed. This bill requires numeracy professional development for certain teachers.
  • Stand opposed SB 71 by Sen. Joe Bouie which would have put duplicative (with existing law) requirements on Learning Pods. It would also have require that Pods provide transportation, though some pods are created and operated by charter schools, which are not required to provide transportation. This bill was not needed and was a transparent effort to harm this innovative public school initiative. Thanks to all of you who took action to defeat this bill. It was killed in the Senate by a vote of 15-23.
  • Bills of interest that Stand followed but did not take a position on included HB 12 by Rep. Richard Nelson, which prohibits promotion to the 4th grade for students whose reading deficiencies have not been remedied by the end of 3rd grade; and SB 197 by Sen. Barrow Peacock and SB 81 by Sen. Patrick McMath, both of which changed teacher certification requirements to allow certain people to teach before they become certified.

Session has concluded,

Brigitte Nieland

Stand For Children Louisiana Government Affairs Director

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