Legislative Update – June 2, 2014

The House adjourned debate on the appropriations bill until Tuesday, June 3rd.  The House and Senate are still in negotiations and are trying to avoid a conference committee.  There are only three days left in the legislative session.  If the House and Senate agree and pass a budget next week, they will be coming back on June 17th to deal with budget vetoes.

The House and Senate continue to work through their respective calendars. There were no committee meeting held this week pertaining to education policy.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

The House adjourned debate on S.516 (Read to Succeed) until Tuesday, June 3rd.

S.1219 ((Negotiated salaries)  The joint resolution allow school districts to uniformly negotiate salaries below the school district salary schedule for 2014-15 through the 2019-2020 school year for retired teachers who are not participants in the Teacher and Employee Retention Incentive program. The provisions of this section expire on July 1, 2020. The bill was ratified sent to Governor Haley for her signature.

H. 4871 (Charter Schools) The bill exempts charter schools from all state and local taxation, except for sales tax, on their earnings and property whether owned or leased.  The bill was ratified sent to Governor Haley for her signature.

H.3893 (Common Core) The bill was ratified sent to Governor Haley for her signature.

SENATE

S.940 (Education Capital Improvements Sales and Use Tax) The bill allows a county that does not collect a certain amount in accommodations tax to impose the sales tax so long as no portion of the county area is subject to more than two percent total sales tax.  Currently, the Education Capital Improvements Sales and Use Tax is limited to use by only Horry County and Charleston County school districts.  The bill was amended in the Senate to include 11 additional districts. The House Subcommittee amended it to include multi-district counties.  The Senate did not concur with the House amendments.

On Wednesday, May 28th, the Senate Education Committee met and reviewed the following bills:

H.3365 (Mental Health Counselors) The bill creates a school safety task force to examine the various funding streams for school-based mental health services and determine how these streams may best be utilized in order to provide more accessible and efficient delivery of mental health programs.  The task force also examines school mental health staffing ratios and provides suggestions that allow for the full delivery of services and effective school-community partnerships, including collaboration between school districts. The task force will develop standards for district level policies to promote effective school discipline and mental health intervention services; examine intra-agency and interagency collaboration and suggest ways to improve. The bill received a favorable report as amended and was given second reading in the Senate.

H. 4061 (Sexual Abuse and Assault Awareness) The bill requires the State Board of Education to select or develop instructional units in sexual abuse and sexual assault awareness and prevention with separate units appropriate for each age level from four-year old kindergarten through twelfth grade.   The bill received a favorable report and is on the Senate calendar.

H. 4914 (Students with a seizure condition) The bill authorizes certain school personnel to administer midazolam intranasally to students with a seizure condition. The bill also provides for immunity from liability with regard to administration of midazolam. The bill was carried over by the committee.

H. 4840 (High School Equivalency Diploma Accessibility Act) The bill requires that the State Board of Education to offer an alternative to the GED for individuals looking to receive a high school equivalency diploma. The bill was amended to include language that the test may be computer-based or offered in paper and pencil form. The bill received a favorable report and is on the Senate calendar.

H. 4458 (Winter holidays) The bill provides that a district may educate students about the history, customs and symbols of traditional winter celebrations including displaying scenes traditional associated with such celebrations.  The bill also states that students and staff may offer holiday greetings such as “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah.”  The bill was carried over by the committee.

H. 3905 (Back to Basics in Education Act of 2013) The bill requires that students are taught cursive writing and memorization of multiplication tables by the end of fifth grade.  The bill was amended to add cursive writing materials to the instructional materials adoption list. The bill received a favorable report and is on the Senate calendar with a minority report.

H.3435 (Comprehensive Health Education Act) The bill greatly alters the comprehensive health education programs implemented by school districts. The bill would require reproductive health instruction to be medically accurate, while changing the grade levels at which this instruction would be offered. Under the bill, students must receive 12.5 hours of health education instruction during the ninth or tenth grade. The State Board of Education would be required to develop a health instruction unit every two years, and districts would be required to use the unit unless the district develops its own health instruction unit annually. Additional changes include the teaching of contraceptive methods in relation to pregnancy and disease prevention, rather than just future family planning. Also, the bill would remove the restriction that male and female students must be taught this information separately. Teachers providing comprehensive health instruction would undergo professional development in either reproductive health or pregnancy prevention every two years, and have a certificate in health education by August 1, 2016. In order to ensure compliance, each district would have to send an annual report to the State Department of Education by June 15. The bill received a favorable report and is on the Senate calendar with a minority report.

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