Legislative Update

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Registration now open for the Annual MASA/MASB Legislative Conference! 

Register now for the annual MASA/MASB Legislative Conference on Tuesday, May 31, 2016 at the Lansing Center. 

The day will start at 7:15 a.m. with registration and a hot breakfast followed by a legislators’ panel. Members of the House and Senate education-related committees have been invited. Breakout sessions are being planned on the School Aid Budget, upcoming policy issues and other hot topics.  

A legislative update and talking points from the MASA and MASB Government Relations staff will conclude the morning. After the adjournment, head to the Capitol to meet with your legislators, sit in on a committee meeting or check out a legislative session. 

MASB and MASA will contact each of the legislators to make them aware, but we urge each of you to make appointments with your Senator and Representative. It is not necessary for each individual to make an appointment; you can visit in groups, which would be preferable to the legislative offices.  

Appointments can be scheduled any time after noon. Keep in mind that some legislators may not be available; if that is the case, meeting with the staff person who handles education issues can be just as productive.

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Senate Committee Takes Testimony on Energy Package

The Senate Energy and Technology Committee began Tuesday what is expected to be another fairly lengthy round of debate and discussion on energy policy proposals (SB 437-8). The chair and bill sponsor (Sen Nofs) indicated it is by no means final and, "represents an excellent foundation for Michigan's next generation of energy policy".

The bill eliminates 10% electric choice and forces Alternative Electric Suppliers to unnecessarily purchase capacity, most likely, directly from the two incumbent utilities, DTE and Consumers Energy, driving Electric The bill also prevents new customers from moving to Electric Choice, by imposing a new tax on customers.

MASA remains concerned at the lack of choice found in this bill package, similar to the House introduced version.

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Dark Stores debated on Multiple Fronts 

Supporters of legislation to change how retail property assessments are derived prepared for a Wednesday hearing in the House, while the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday held an advice and consent hearing on one of the judges at the Michigan Tax Tribunal. Mr. Abood is viewed as one of the igniters of the controversy over "dark stores."

On Wednesday, the House Tax Policy Committee help discussions on HB 5578, that would get at the issue by limiting how property could be based on the use of comparable properties. The legislation follows the practice of assessing the "highest and best use" of the property. Abandoned property with deed restrictions prohibiting competitors should not be used as comparable properties because the two are not comparable at all.

The legislation looks at the issue from the use of comparable properties instead of deed restrictions, as have other bills, because there are circumstances where deed restrictions on the use of property may be appropriate. Closing the "loophole" on comparable property use will deal with much of the issue.

MASA is supportive of the legislation and opposed to the appointment of Mr. Abood.

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Senate Education Committee reports Anti-Common Core Bill 

The Senate Education Committee reported legislation Tuesday to move Michigan to the Massachusetts standards from the Common Core State Standards after hearing testimony that the Bay State saw test scores drop on the first year of fully implementing the controversial national common core standards.

The bill, SB 826, would move the state to the standards in place in Massachusetts before that state adopted the Common Core in 2010.

The bill moved on a 4-1 vote with Mr. Knezek opposed. MASA opposes this legislation.

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Senate Education Passes Genocide Curriculum bill

The Senate Education Committee also reported HB 4493, legislation that would require genocide induction in the Michigan curriculum and include killings of Armenians in Turkey during World War I as genocide. The move came over the objection of the Turkish Consulate of Chicago.

The bill now heads to the Senate floor for a vote.

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House Edu Reports Special Edu Voucher Resolution

This week the House Education committee reported HJR B. The resolution allows for special education vouchers.  House Joint Resolution B would amend the Michigan Constitution of 1963 to require the legislature to provide financial support for children with special needs to attend the school of their choice, including a nonpublic school, as long as the cost of that financial support does not exceed the amount that would be used for that child at a public school.

The resolution would change the way special education is funded for both nonpublic students and public special education students who would like to participate in school choice across ISD boundaries, for whom that choice is currently limited under Section 105c of the State School Aid Act.

The resolution now heads to the House floor. For the resolution to become effective, it would require voter approval at the next general election after the adoption of the resolution by the legislature, which requires a 2/3 vote in each house.  

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Bill to Require Civics Test is Reported

On Thursday, the House Education Committee heard testimony on House Bill 4136, a bill that would require students to take a civics test similar to the test taken for immigrants to become United States citizens. Under the bill, students would have to take the test and pass with 60%in order to receive their high school diploma. The test must include only identical questions to some or all of the civics portion of the naturalization test.  The legislation was reported from House Education Committee and now heads to the House floor for consideration.

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 Computer Coding Bill Debated in Workforce Development Committee

The House Workforce Development committee debated a bill that would amend the Revised School Code by requiring a high school student to complete at least three credits in "21st century skills" as part of requirements to receive a high school diploma.

Currently, as part of the requirements for a high school diploma, students must complete at least one credit in the visual, performing, or applied arts and at least two credits in a language other than English as part of the requirements for a diploma.

HB 5463, introduced by Rep. Lisa Lyons, would instead require students to complete at least three credits in 21st century skills, which could be met by completing any combination of three credits in the following:

  • A language other than English o Visual, performing, or applied arts.
  • Computer science or computer coding, or a combination of the two.
  • A Michigan Department of Education (MDE)-approved formal career and technical education program.

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