Lightning round: Senate panel prints 14 bills

Well, that was quick.

On Monday afternoon, the Senate Education Committee introduced — or “printed” — 14 education bills, without discussion or debate.

Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, asked the committee to introduce the bills without a hearing. No senators objected.

What’s with the logjam? Today is the 36th day of the 2013 legislative session. It’s the last day many legislative committees, including Senate Education, can print bills. A handful of other legislative committees are known as “privileged” committees. They can print bills at any time.

What was the hurry? Senate Education has a busy agenda today. The committee also had Boise State University President Bob Kustra on the docket for its meeting — and a Senate-House education “listening session” scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m.

What’s next? Generally, print hearings are short anyway, because it’s the first step in the legislative process. There are exceptions, but many bills get introduced with little discussion — and are brought back to committee for a full public hearing.

What about the collective bargaining bills? They were part of the passel of bills before Senate Education.

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The Idaho School Boards Association has rewritten its seven labor bills — including several that revived components of the defeated Proposition 1 collective bargaining law. Now, there are six bills.

Karen Echeverria
Karen Echeverria, Idaho School Boards Association

On Monday, ISBA Executive Director Karen Echeverria outlined the rewrites. Here’s a summary of the three bills introduced in Senate Education:

• The first, a rewrite of Senate Bill 1037, would eliminate “evergreen clauses,” ongoing contract language between a school board and a teachers’ union. All salary, benefits and budget-related items would need to be negotiated annually; other items could be negotiated on a two-year basis.

• The second would allow — but not require — school boards to ask local teachers’ unions to ratify that they represent at least 50 percent of a district’s classified staff. This is a departure from the original Senate Bill 1039, which required annual ratification.

• The third replaces Senate Bill 1040, and would allow districts to place an employee on unpaid leave, if a court order prevents the employee from working in school. The bill also would allow school boards to reduce teacher salaries.

Is that it from ISBA? No. The ISBA will have three other bills in the House Education Committee on Tuesday.

They include provisions related to reductions in professional staff and the electronic delivery of contract forms and deadlines, according to the committee’s agenda.

Because of Monday’s quick introduction and what may be an error on Tuesday’s House Education Committee agenda (two different draft bills are both described as “Electronic Delivery of Standard Contracts; Setting Dates Certain for Employment”) it is difficult to track exactly what is on deck for Tuesday.

What about the other bills introduced Monday? Because there was no discussion Monday, and because bills are not public record until they are introduced, details are hard to come by.

A couple of potentially interesting items:

  • Idaho Education Association Executive Director Robin Nettinga had two bills that also appear to address pieces of Proposition 1: conducting labor negotiations in open session, and reducing work force during a financial emergency.
  • Sen. Cliff Bayer, R-Boise, has a bill addressing education’s early retirement program.

Here’s the full but sketchy list.