Weekly Legislative Update: Week Nine

Stand is pleased to co-sponsor, along with the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children and other partners, Early Education Day at the Capitol on Tuesday, May 10 from 9a.m. to 3p.m. Please consider coming to the Capitol to show your support for quality early care and education to legislators. Click here to register for Early Ed Day.

Last week, the pace picked up as the Legislature decided to adjourn Thursday for the holiday weekend. A number of bills that Stand is tracking were voted on, with more receiving committee hearings.

HB 269 by Rep. Nelson passed the House with a vote of 84-12 and has been sent to the Senate. This bill would prohibit promotion to the fourth grade if a student has reading deficiencies that have not been remedied by the end of the third grade.

HB 649 by Rep. Hilferty would prohibit corporal punishment in public schools. It was voted on in the House on May 5 and failed by a narrow margin, 51-42. A motion to reconsider the vote is pending.

Last Wednesday, SB 47 by Sen. Fields passed the Senate 36-0. SB 47 would require public schools to offer pre-K. It has been assigned to the House Education Committee and is scheduled to be heard on Wednesday.

The Senate also voted favorably last Wednesday on SB 50 by Sen. Hewitt, which passed 35-0. This bill would allow students who attended schools that did not offer desired technical courses to attend other public schools that did have those classes. It too has been assigned to House Education and will be heard Wednesday.

This week will have a heavy workload as legislators try to move all of the legislative instruments before sine die on June 6. The Revenue Estimating Conference will meet Monday morning, and if additional state revenue is recognized it is possible that teacher and support staff pay raises could be higher than what has been proposed in HCR 23.

HCR 23 by Rep. Lance Harris will be heard Monday morning in the House Appropriations Committee. The resolution has already been reported favorably out of the House Education Committee. It is the $4 billion plus MFP that allocates state funds to support approximately 650,000 students enrolled in public education across the state. This year’s proposed MFP includes an increase of about $200 million over last year’s formula. Most of that increase is for teacher and support worker pay raises. The Legislature cannot amend the MFP, which is submitted by BESE, it can only accept or reject it.

Also on the Appropriations Committee agenda is HB 526 by Rep. Edmonds. This bill would require local school boards to post financial information on their websites.

Finally in that committee is HB 707 by Rep. Duplessis. HB 707 would align Louisiana with most other states by instituting automatic expungement of criminal records after a certain period of time for specific crimes.

The House Education Committee is meeting on both Tuesday and Wednesday this week. Tuesday’s agenda lists a handful of vaccine bills, but also includes several that Stand is tracking, some in support and some in opposition.

HB 536 by Rep. Cox would lower the minimum ACT score required to qualify for a TOPS-Tech scholarship from 17 to 15.

HB 782 by Rep. Phelps would require that the appointment of a principal by a superintendent be subject to the approval of the local school board.

HB 792 by Rep. Phelps provides relative to literacy instruction and reading support services for overage students in grades 6-12.

HB 808 by Rep. Hodges would expand the Parents’ Bill of Rights for Public Schools by adding the following language as a right: “That the school shall not discriminate against their child by teaching the child that the child is currently or destined to be oppressed or to be an oppressor based on the child’s race or national origin.”

As previously mentioned, Wednesday’s agenda includes SBs 47 and 50, but also the following bills of interest.

SB 45 by Sen. Foil would require that public school governing authorities adopt policies relative to cameras in certain classrooms by 12/31/22.

SB 190 by Sen. Hewitt would establish the Computer Science Education Act to develop a computer science education program.

SB 261 by Sen. Fields would provide for public postsecondary education transfer pathways.

As of the wriring of this blog, the Senate Education Committee has not yet posted its agenda but it will be online 24 hours prior to the meeting date.

We will continue to keep you informed throughout the session. All bills can be viewed at the legislative website legis.la.gov.

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