Senate Ed backs three ISBA labor bills

The Senate Education Committee Tuesday afternoon advanced three labor bills, including one that requires teachers’ associations to represent a majority of educators.

Karen Echeverria
Karen Echeverria

Senate Bill 1149 requires that teachers’ representatives must demonstrate they represent a majority of educators — if the school boards request proof — and that there be written proof agreements were ratified. The bill also requires both parties to negotiate in good faith, and includes an “emergency clause” making it effective immediately upon passage (typically, new laws become effective July 1, at the beginning of the state’s fiscal year).

“ We believe (this) bill fosters accountability and transparency in collective bargaining,” said Karen Echeverria, executive director of the Idaho School Boards Association. “(This) helps secure a climate of trust necessary for good-faith bargaining.”

Bert Marley, the Idaho Education Association’s director of public policy, opposed the bill. He said the timetable would be difficult to comply with, and he suggested the bill instead be amended to make it expire after one year — like other new labor bills introduced this year.

Committee members ended up passing the bill on a voice vote, sending it to the Senate floor with a recommendation it pass.

Committee members also sent two other ISBA bills to the Senate floor with a recommendation for approval.

Senate Bill 1150 deals with the appeals process for teachers involved in employment disputes. The IEA also opposed this bill.

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House Bill 261 enjoyed more support. That bill states seniority will no longer be the only factor school boards consider when they have to cut staff because of enrollment declines or budget cuts. The IEA backs that bill, retooled during a series of education stakeholder meetings this year.

State Board confirmation hearing. The Senate Education Committee questioned former Idaho State Board of Education member Ken Edmunds, who served on the board for five years before his term expired earlier this month. Edmunds is up for another five-year term, and the committee will vote on his confirmation Thursday.

Idaho Youth Challenge bill held. Senate Education voted to continue discussion on House Bill 226, which outlines funding for the Idaho Youth Challenge Program. Sen. Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls, asked for the matter to be held for one legislative day, saying he is concerned the  bill could double-fund students participating in the program.