Legislative Update – February 10, 2017

The fifth week of General Assembly was all about the report from the Joint Committee on Pension Systems Review and the introduction of the bill to deal with South Carolina’s crumbling infrastructure (i.e. roads bill). Listed below are the actions of the House and Senate and its respective subcommittees.

Joint Committee on Pension Systems Review

After months of debate and testimony, the Joint Committee on Pension Systems Review released its recommendations on Wednesday afternoon. On Thursday both the House and the Senate filed identical bills in its respective bodies.

The House bill is H. 3726 and the Senate bill is S. 394.  Highlights of the bills include

·         Increasing and capping employee contribution rate at 9%.  The previous rate was 8.66%.

·         Increasing employer contribution rate 2% effective July 1, 2017. The current rate is 11.56% which will increase to 13.56%. Each year after, the rate will increase 1% until it reaches 18.56% in 2023.

·         No reduction in the current cost of living allowances for retirees.

House of Representatives

Action Taken on the Floor

·         H. 3036(Qualifications for State Superintendent of Education) This bill provides for the appointment of the State Superintendent of Education, the term of office, and the qualifications.

o   Action: On Thursday, the debate began with tabling the committee amendment and offering an amendment which mirrors the one passed in the Senate last week. Many concerns were raised over the qualifications being too restrictive.  One member suggested that the master’s degree requirement be dropped and substitute “advanced degree.” Another member thought that the qualifications were worded in such that only someone from the education field could qualify. The last concern raised was that retired military may not have a master’s degree and therefore would not qualify. Debate was adjourned until next week.

K-12 Education Subcommittee Action

·         H. 3515 – (Hurricane Matthew) A joint resolution to provide for attendance waivers for schools in counties for which federal major disaster declarations were made because of Hurricane Matthew. The bill would not require these districts to have to make up the required three days and in addition to what is already in statute, these districts could have up to an additional five days forgiven.

o   Action: On Wednesday morning, the subcommittee adopted an amendment that would require FEMA districts to make up the three days required to be in its calendar, seek forgiveness of up to three days from the local board of trustees, seek forgiveness of up to three days from the State Board of Education and then, if additional forgiveness days are needed, seek up to five additional days from the local board of trustees. The subcommittee voted unanimously to move the bill to the full committee.

K-12 Education Committee Action

·         H. 3508 – (Eclipse Start Date) A joint resolution dealing with the school start date for next year.  The resolution states that school districts may begin school as early as Thursday, August 17, 2017 because of the solar eclipse. Districts beginning early must provide instruction on the solar eclipse and must provide a safe opportunity to view the eclipse.

o   Action: The bill as amended by subcommittee last week received a unanimous vote to move the bill to the House.

·         H. 3951(First Steps to School Readiness) The bill amends the current code to add specific reporting requirements and specify exact information required in each report. It also adds language that the board must ensure the fiscal and programmatic accountability of the administration of the State Office of First Steps.

o   Action: The bill received a unanimous vote to move the bill to the House.

·         H. 3515 – (Hurricane Matthew) A joint resolution to provide for attendance waivers for schools in counties for which federal major disaster declarations were made because of Hurricane Matthew. The bill as amended by the subcommittee to require the districts to make up the three days required to be in its calendar, seek forgiveness of up to three days from the local board of trustees, seek forgiveness of up to three days from the State Board of Education and then, if additional forgiveness days are needed, seek up to five additional days from the local board of trustees.

o   Action: On bill received a unanimous vote to move the bill to the House.

 

Ways and Means K-12 Subcommittee

The Ways and Means subcommittee decided to meet one last time before the Proviso Subcommittee meeting next week.  Changes to a few provisos were made and are listed below.

·         1.69 – (Teacher Salary Study Committee) as amended moves the date of the taskforce recommendations to October 1, 2017.

·         1A.9 – (Teacher Supply Funding) as amended specifies that a school district must notify individuals who qualify for the funds by May 15th the way they will receive the funds.  The amended language gives the district the option of providing a check, doing a direct deposit so long as it is not included in their base salary, or prepaid card.

 

Senate

Action on the Floor

·         H. 338 (Solar Eclipse) – A joint resolution dealing with the school start date for next year.  The resolution states that school districts may begin school as early as Thursday, August 17, 2017 because of the solar eclipse.

o   Action: The joint resolution received second reading on Thursday.  Third reading is scheduled for Tuesday and would then be sent to the House.  The Senate version does not contain the language regarding teaching about the eclipse and the language about safely viewing the eclipse.

Finance K-12 Education Subcommittee

Senate Finance K-12 Education Subcommittee began its budget hearings with a lofty agenda.  The subcommittee heard budget requests from seven state agencies. The discussions began with the Education Oversight and continued covering Archives and History, the Arts Commission, the School for the Deaf and Blind, the Confederate Relic Room, the State Library and Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School. The Subcommittee will continue to meet over the next few weeks hearing from the remaining agencies and discussing provisos.

 

Education K-12 Subcommittee

The Senate Education K-12 Subcommittee met to discuss the following State Board of Education Regulations:

·         43.51: Certification Requirements changes – clarify that both content and pedagogy examinations must be presented for certification; clarify the experience requirement necessary for an out-of-state educator to qualify for a professional certificate; include provisions for issuing certificates for qualifying participants in all currently approved alternative certification pathways; remove specific organizational names as the names often change.

·         43-53: Credential Classification changes – delete temporary, transitional, and graded certificate types that are no longer issued; delete the special subject certificate which is no longer issued; and modify language to reflect ESSA requirements;

·         43-62: Requirements for Additional Areas of Certification changes – give the SBE and SCDE the authority to create, amend, or delete areas of initial certification, add-on certification, specialized endorsements, and specialized alternative certification;

·         43-205: Administrative and Professional Personnel Qualifications, Duties, and Workloads changes – remove references to NCLB; clarify terminology and provide legal citations to professional personnel for qualifications and duties;

·          43-234: Defined Program, Grades 9-12 and Graduation Requirements changes – address CATE completer requirements, language referencing CATE, and language referencing ESSA; remove NCLB references; add emergency closing language to coincide with the new state statute;

·         43-236: Career or Technology Centers/Comprehensive High Schools changes -provide CATE students more flexibility in personalizing their program of study by changing the current four minimum required units to three units; and

·         43-258.1: Advanced Placement changes – current requirement of 45 hours of training to 30 hours of training to receive an AP endorsement.

o   Action: The subcommittee gave a favorable report to all regulations except the regulation dealing with additional areas of certification.  Members were unsure if they should be giving up the authority to approve the requirements for additional certification areas and wanted a little more time to examine the pros and cons.

 

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