Legislative Update – February17, 2017

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: The bill remains on the contested calendar.  No action was taken on the bill this week.

·         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: The bill received second and third readings in the House this week and has been sent to the Senate.

·         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: On Wednesday when the bill came up on the calendar, the bill received a “point of order” that it had not been on the calendar for 24 hours. The point of order was sustained and on Thursday a simple adjourn debate motion was made.  The bill should be discussed next week.

·         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: On Wednesday when the bill came up on the calendar, the bill received a “point of order” that it had not been on the calendar for 24 hours. The point of order was sustained and on Thursday a simple adjourn debate motion was made.  The bill should be discussed next week.

K-12 Education Subcommittee Action

·         H. 3513 – (Retired Educator Certificate) The bill creates a new professional educator certificate for retired educators who previously held a professional certificate.  The retired educator certificate is valid for 30 years and exempts the holders of the certificate from having to complete any continuing education or renewal credit unless it is offered by the district.  The individuals teaching with a retired educator certificate would be hired annually with letter of agreement from the district.

o   Action: The subcommittee voted unanimously to report the bill out to the full committee. SCASA spoke against the bill.

·         H. 3415 – (Dyslexia Training for Teachers) The bill requires teacher education programs to provide three credit hours of instruction in identifying and assisting students with dyslexia.

o   Action: The bill was amended to add, in addition to dyslexia training, teacher education programs must provide instruction in “other reading disorders using multi-sensory, evidence based instructional methods.” Once amended the bill received a unanimous report to move it to the full committee.

·         H. 3587 – (Seizure Safety in Schools Study Committee) The bill creates a study committee and enumerates the membership of the committee. The committee is to examine issues related to epilepsy and seizure safety awareness in public schools.

o   Action: The bill was amended to add a school nurse and public school teacher to the list of members of the committee.  Once amended the bill received a unanimous report to move the bill to the full committee.

 

Ways and Means Proviso Subcommittee

The Ways and Means Proviso Subcommittee met on Tuesday to discuss all budget provisos (not just education).  The following proviso was offered by Chairman White and adopted by the subcommittee regarding renovations to high school stadiums.

117.ibc.(GP: IBC Requirements) For Fiscal Year 2017-18, high schools shall be exempt from Section 2902.1 A-5 of the 2015 International Building Code pertaining to the minimum plumbing requirements for stadiums, bleachers and grandstands.

Another action by the subcommittee was to pull out proviso 1A.NBCI dealing with the National Board supplement. Chairman White requested that the subcommittee carry over the proviso which it did. Chairman White stated he wants to include language to end the supplement to any newly certified teachers.

Ways and Means Legislative Subcommittee

·         H. 3726 – (Pension Reform) This bill is designed as phase I of multi-stage changes to the South Carolina Retirement System to deal with the system’s unfunded liability. The bill among other things

·         Increases and caps employee contribution rate at 9%.  The previous rate was 8.66%.

·         Increases 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.

·         Provides for no reductions in the current cost of living allowances for retirees.

o   Action: The bill received a unanimous report to move it to the full committee.

Ways and Means Committee

·         H. 3726 – (Pension Reform) This bill is designed as phase I of multi-stage changes to the South Carolina Retirement System to deal with the systems unfunded liability. The bill among other things

·         Increases and caps employee contribution rate at 9%.  The previous rate was 8.66%.

·         Increases 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.

·         Provides for no reductions in the current cost of living allowances for retirees.

o   Action: The committee adopted one amendment by Representative Cobb-Hunter which specifies that the Commission must be notified of an investment made through the delegation of authority to the chief investment officer within three business days of the investment’s closing and the investment must be reviewed with the Commission at its next regularly scheduled meeting. The amended bill received a unanimous vote to report it out to the House floor.

Judiciary Criminal Laws Subcommittee

·         H. 3055 – (Stop the School House to Jail House Pipeline Act) This bill creates the Restorative Justice Study Committee to review the juvenile justice laws of the State; requires school boards to adopt a policy of zero tolerance; and requires the Criminal Justice Academy to develop and implement a cultural competency model training program curriculum for school resource officers.

o   Action: The subcommittee removed all portions of the bill except the article creating the study committee. The subcommittee chair explained that the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee reported out an amended bill on disrupting schools and that the subcommittee would wait until it received the Senate bill and use it as a vehicle to address the “disturbing schools” concerns.

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 third reading on Tuesday and has been sent to the House for consideration.  The Senate version does not contain the language regarding teaching about the eclipse and the language about safely viewing the eclipse.

K-12 Education Subcommittee

·         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.

o   Action: The subcommittee voted to ask the full committee to request the regulation be withdrawn and resubmitted. The subcommittee would like the State Board of Education to add language that would give them the authority to approve alternative certification groups such as ABCTE to offer teacher certification. A group called “Teachers for Tomorrow” would like to be able to go through the State Board of Education for approval rather than having to go through statute (S. 389) in an effort to begin supplying teachers in time for the next school year.

Senate Judiciary Subcommittee

·         S. 131 – (Disturbing Schools) This bill removes students enrolled in a school from being charged with disturbing schools. The bill allows only those that are expelled/suspended and return to the campus or others who are not enrolled students to be charged with disturbing schools. The bill lists specific actions that constitute disturbing schools.

o   Action: After much discussion in support of removing students from this charge, the Sheriff’s Association discussed an amendment that maintains the ability to charge an enrolled student with disturbing schools only when they “substantially interfere with or disrupt” the school.  The subcommittee agreed to refine the language of the amendment to ensure that charging a student is “the last resort.” The amended bill was reported out favorably to the full committee.

 

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