The Louisiana legislative session convened at noon on Monday, April 10. Following Gov. John Bel Edwards’s State of the State speech, both the House and Senate began the process of introducing, or “reading in” bills. To date, 608 House Bills have been filed, 23 House Concurrent Resolutions, and 25 House Resolutions. In the Senate, 220 Senate Bills were filed, 15 Senate Concurrent Resolutions, and 21 Senate Resolutions. Thus far, Stand is tracking 99 bills of interest but that number could increase. Legislators have until 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19 to introduce bills. As this is a fiscal session, the number of bills of a general nature that a legislator may introduce is limited to five. No Education Committee meetings were held in either chamber, but Department of Education officials presented their proposed 2024 Fiscal Year budget to the House Appropriations Committee (HB 1 by Rep. Zee Zeringue) on Tuesday, April 11.

The budget includes the $4.031B MFP for the 2023/2024 School Year submitted by BESE (SCR 2 by Sen. Cleo Fields). The Legislature cannot amend BESE’s requested funding resolution, it can only approve or reject it. If a new MFP is not approved, the formula reverts to the prior year’s. The MFP, as approved by BESE on March 8, includes $196,479,514 for teacher salary increases of $2,000 for certificated teachers and $1,000 for support personnel. (If the Revenue Estimating Conference recognizes additional state dollars, that number could increase to $3,000 for teachers and $1,500 for support staff.)

The proposed MFP adds an additional $61M block grant for differentiated teacher compensation. Under this grant, school systems would be given the flexibility to pay teachers stipends if they meet designated specific needs such as teaching in critical shortage areas or in high needs schools (those with an economically disadvantaged student population of 85% or higher). Further, this MFP includes $21.5M to help systems meet operational costs such as employee health insurance and retirement.The Department of Education will be in Senate Finance Committee today, April 17. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Interested citizens may watch any hearing or floor action livestreamed via the legislative website or on the newly launched free app LA LEGE.

The Senate has not yet released next week’s Education Committee agenda, but they are expected to meet on Wednesday. The House Education Committee is scheduled to meet at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 20. Please click to see the agenda.A key bill of interest on the agenda is HB 191 by Rep. Patrick Jefferson. HB 191 is a bill requested by the Department of Education which would change state teacher certification requirements. This proposal could give credit for experience in teaching out-of-state, in nonpublic schools, or in a public school via a contract with an approved company if other requirements are met. It also would align traditional and alternate teacher education programs re reading and literacy competencies.

Stay tuned for updates as session progresses. And, for some bills, we’ll reach out to you and ask that you contact legislators to support or oppose them. Contacts from their constituents have a major impact on a bill’s outcome.