Legislative Update – March 17, 2017

The ninth week of General Assembly was consumed with debating the 2017-18 Appropriations Bill, H. 3720. The House of Representatives spent most of the day  Monday, Tuesday, and worked past midnight on Wednesday to give the budget second and third readings this week.

House of Representatives

Because of the extensive debate in the House of Representatives on the FY 17-18 Appropriations Bill, H. 3720, there were no subcommittee meetings by House committees this week.  Additionally, no other bills on the House calendar were discussed while the House was in session.

House Budget Debate

Regarding education, very little changed from the version passed by the Ways and Means Committee (see February 24th Legislative Update).  Listed below are the changes made on the floor of the House during the debate. The following funding additions were made possible when the House amended the Roads Bill to return the $37.5 million of EIA funding that was swept up in the Infrastructure Trust Fund.

·         $12 million for technology which will be allocated using the same methodology as previously used.

·         $1 million to continue funding the Youth Challenge Program.

·         $24.6 million for the Abbeville Capital Improvements Fund.

Regarding provisos, the House adopted three new provisos. The first proviso was a clean-up amendment deleting several provisos that no longer had funding attached to them.  The second amendment was tied to the $1.4 million added to enable the continued use of the value-added assessment program.  The last proviso dealt with the methodology for distribution of the technology funding.

One other amendment was offered dealing with education but was withdrawn by the amendment sponsor.  The amendment would allow retired teachers to teach certain subjects without the $10,000 earnings cap. The amendment was withdrawn because, per the amendment’s author, that topic is to be discussed when the Pension Reform Committee begins meeting again to work on Phase II of needed changes to the pension system.

Senate

Action on the Floor

·         S. 520 – (CATE Regulation) This is a joint resolution to approve regulations of the State Board of Education relating to career or technology centers/comprehensive high schools.

o   Action: The joint resolution received second and third reading in the Senate and now moves to the House for consideration.

·         S. 521 – (Defined Program Regulation) This is a joint resolution to approve regulations of the State Board of Education relating to defined program, grades 9-12 and graduation requirements.

o   Action: The joint resolution received second and third reading in the Senate and now moves to the House for consideration.

·         S. 526 – (Advanced Placement Regulation) This is a joint resolution to approve regulations of the State Board of Education relating to advanced placement.

o   Action: The joint resolution received second and third reading in the Senate and now moves to the House for consideration.

·         S. 199 – (Stopped School Bus) This bill authorizes the Department of Public Safety to issue a ticket to the owner of a vehicle that illegally passes a stopped school bus based upon the inspection of photographs, microphotographs, videotape, or other digitally recorded images produced by a digital recording system mounted on a school bus. It establishes civil penalties in an amount not to exceed $250 for the first offense and $500 for a second or subsequent offense. Appeals procedures are also outlined in the bill.

o   Action: The Senate began debate on the bill, however, Senator Jackson objected to further consideration of the bill.

K-12 Education Committee

·         S. 462 – (Diploma Pathways) This bill, promoted by the State Department of Education, provides for personalized college and career ready pathways for students to receive a high school diploma. It also provides that all students must take a computer science course in coding and computer programing to meet graduation requirements. The bill also creates an Employability Credential for students who are not on track for graduation or who have an IEP which specifies that the student would not meet the state’s graduation requirements.

o   Action: The subcommittee adopted an amendment which requires the SBE to promulgate regulation establishing pathways and endorsements; requires computer science classes to include design, computer coding, or computer programing; and removes students who do not have an IEP from consideration for an employability credential.

·         S. 445 – (Charter Schools) The bill makes multiple changes to the Charter School Act primarily in the areas of governance and finance.

o   Action: The subcommittee was offered an amendment to the bill from the superintendent of the Public Charter School District and the SC Association of Public Charter Schools.  The subcommittee had many questions regarding the amendment and moved to adjourn debate to allow more time to examine the document.

·         S. 534 – (Education Accountability Act) The bill makes several changes to the act. Changes are in the areas of the value-added system; adding Profile of the Graduate language; specifics on what data must be disaggregated; changing terminology from “absolute performance” to “performance rating;” redefining growth; reducing testing in science and social studies; and defining the academic performance ratings of excellent, good, average, below average, and at-risk.

o   Action: The State Department of Education requested the consideration of an amendment to the bill which was considered and adopted by the subcommittee.  Several areas of differing opinions between the SCDE and the EOC were to be ironed out before the next meeting of the subcommittee.

·         H. 3221 – (Fiscal Practices and Budgetary Conditions) This bill directs the SCDE to develop and adopt a statewide program for identifying fiscal practices and budgetary conditions that, if uncorrected could compromise the fiscal integrity of a school district. The bill outlines three levels of fiscal and budgetary concerns – fiscal watch, fiscal caution, and fiscal emergency.  The bill outlines the conditions and requirements associated with each level.

o   Action: The subcommittee carried over the bill due to lack of time.

·         H. 3220 – (EEDA Coordinating Council) This bill reinstates the original language from the EEDA codified in 2005. It delineates the membership, duties, and functions of the Council. The bill specifies a five-year sunset provision.

o   Action: The subcommittee gave a favorable report to the bill and it now moves to the full committee.

Senate Judiciary Subcommittee

·         S. 28 – (Religious Instruction) This bill codifies the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in the Moss vs Spartanburg 7 court case.  The bill allows the transfer of high school credit for religious instruction from an accredited private school to a public high school even if the course is taught by an unaccredited body.

o   Action: The subcommittee gave a favorable report to the bill and it now moves to the full committee.

·         S. 169 – (Teen Dating Violence) This bill requires that teen dating violence education be integrated into the Comprehensive Health Education standards and that developmentally appropriate instructional units be selected or developed for kindergarten through grade five; six through eight; and once in grades nine through twelve.

o   Action: The subcommittee carried the bill over to work on amendments based upon the testimony received.

 

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