Why are labor issues back at Statehouse?

Why are elements of Proposition 1 — the Students Come First collective bargaining law — reappearing at the Statehouse, less than three months after voters repealed the law?

It’s partly a question of process.

Gov. Butch Otter has convened a 31-member task force to look at education reform issues, but the group has limited its focus from the beginning. The task force  — operating under the umbrella of the State Board of Education — has decided not to consider labor negotiation questions that normally involve local teachers’ unions and local school boards.

“That’s really outside the purview of the State Board of Education,” said Sen.

Sen. John Goedde

John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, chairman of the Senate Education Committee and a task force member.

And so, the issue falls back to the Legislature.

Goedde’s committee printed four of the Idaho School Boards Association’s collective bargaining bills Monday. Several contained elements from Proposition 1: an elimination of the so-called and multi-year “evergreen clauses” between unions and school boards; and a provision that could allow school boards to cut teacher pay from one contract year to the next. The House Education Committee printed three other ISBA bills Tuesday.

Initial reactions have echoed the Proposition 1 debate. The ISBA, which endorsed Proposition 1, says these measures are aimed at giving local school boards enhanced budget control. Critics such as the Idaho Education Association have labeled the ISBA bills a rehash of Proposition 1. This is the same thing, déjà vu,” IEA president Penni Cyr told Betsy Russell of the Spokane Spokesman-Review Monday. “This is the Luna Laws all over again.”

What’s the reaction from State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna? Spokeswoman Melissa McGrath provided a brief statement Monday evening: “Superintendent Luna supports stakeholder groups bringing forth their ideas.”

Read the ISBA’s reasons behind supporting this legislation.




Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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