Legislative update: What’s happening in Des Moines?

A draft bill was filed recently through the House appropriations committee. HSB 727 would reduce the number of AEAs from nine to four and is almost identical to the original AEA reorganization bill filed earlier this year as HF 2182. The filing of an AEA reorganization bill is not completely unexpected, as we have seen versions of this before. AEA leaders continue to talk with legislators and lobbyists to gain better understanding of the reasons for this. 

Here’s what you can do
Please continue to provide amazing services to the children, families, and educators that we serve. Most of our legislators hold weekly meetings on the weekends so it’s helpful if you can attend to listen and respectfully tell them about the work you do. In addition, please use social media to share and retweet the stories that the agency shares there about your success. Stay at level five and six energy.

We’ll keep you updated on this as the legislative session moves forward. 

In other news, both chambers gaveled in on Monday afternoon this week and moved several bills: 

The House passed HF 2081 that strikes the ability of colleges to administer a pre-professional assessment to teaching candidates and the ability to use a subject assessment from a national testing program. The bill was amended on the floor to increase requirements for student teachers to 80 hours and 50 hours for teaching interns. It passed 94-0 and has been sent to the Senate. The Senate passed SF 2356 that allows a school board to use a volunteer substitute teacher who has specific substitute credentials that allow the person to substitute without having to pay the person. It passed 38-7 and has been sent to the House.

Also on Monday the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Governor’s education bill, SF 2349. This is the omnibus bill that requires districts to post course syllabi, summaries, lists of texts, etc. along with vouchers for some private school attendance and a requirement for high school students to pass the U.S. citizenship test in order to graduate.

Tuesday was a slow day for education related legislation. The Senate Education Committee did meet to approve some appointments and move SF 2291 that would allow para-educators as substitute teachers if the school makes a good faith effort to find a qualified sub. It does require the para to be paid the same as a regular sub.

Wednesday, however, both chambers spent a great deal of time in session considering bills. HF 2416 dealing with transgender athletes was passed by the Senate and sent to the Governor. The Governor signed the bill on Thursday. I would anticipate that the state will see some fiscal impacts from this legislation over the next several years, due to non-compliance with Title IX, the loss of revenue from hosting NCAA or other events and the potential litigation costs.

The House passed SF 2128 that changes the reference from “limited English proficiency” to “English learner” along with some changes to community college planning committees. The bill is now headed to the Governor.

SF 2266, was passed and is headed to the Governor.  It raises the amount a retired IPERS member can earn to $50,000 and raises the cap for the value of a contract that a school board member can have with a school to $20,000. It will become effective on enactment. Also headed to the Governor is SF 2279 that allows governments to accept electronic bids for public improvements. It requires the time of receipt to be recorded electronically.

HF 2398 that strikes the requirement for teachers with a master’s or PhD to renew their licenses passed the House unanimously and is off for consideration in the Senate. Also sent to the Senate from the House is HF 2493 that would allow schools to use para-educators as substitute teachers, except for driver’s education, if the school makes a good-faith effort to find a qualified sub. It requires the para-educator to be paid the same as a regular sub.

There wasn’t any action on Thursday that impacts education. There was very little action Thursday overall, with both chambers adjourning early until Monday afternoon next week.

Additionally:

  • The Governor signed HF 2316. The bill increases Supplemental State Aid at 2.5%. 
  • Last week, Governor Reynolds held a press event at Saint Theresa Catholic School in Des Moines to advocate for HSB 672 and what many are referring to as school choice. The bill would allow students to transfer to private schools and take approximately 70% of the state funding per pupil to pay for tuition. The remaining portion of the state aid would then go into a fund to be distributed to rural public schools. Please note, AEAs do not receive funding in the area of special education for students that attend a private school, so this bill potentially could result in significant loss of revenue to AEAs. 
  • The House also approved HF 2080 on a unanimous vote. It increases the supplemental weighting for schools that share operational superintendent management functions. The bill was amended to include language on sharing special education directors. 
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