Statehouse roundup, 3.4.13

Collective bargaining. The third round of teacher collective bargaining bills is starting its roundabout legislative journey.

The bills address some familiar topics, such as limiting teacher contracts to one or two years in duration; allowing school districts to reduce teacher salaries; compelling a local teachers’ union to prove that it represents at least half of a district’s staff; and establishing the ground rules for a school district to declare a financial emergency.

The Senate Education Committee will ship the bills to the Senate State Affairs Committee for printing, or introduction — since State Affairs is one of a handful of committees that can print bills late in a session. State Affairs will print the bills Wednesday, and ship them back to Senate Education for a hearing, Senate Education Chairman John Goedde said Monday.

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Karen Echeverria, Idaho School Boards Association

The collective bargaining issue has been percolating all session. The Idaho School Boards Association has proposed — and repeatedly rewritten — several of these proposals, which have their origins in the rejected Proposition 1. The Idaho Education Association opposes several of the bills.

And that’s not all: the House Education Committee will hold print hearings Tuesday morning on several other ISBA-sponsored collective bargaining bills.

Charter schools. The House did not vote Monday on House Bill 206, which would earmark $1.4 million in 2013-14 for charter school facilities. A vote could come Tuesday. Also on the House horizon, perhaps for a Tuesday vote, is House Bill 221, a charter school governance bill, which would allow universities and nonprofit groups to authorize charter schools.

Initiatives and referendums.  There was no action Monday on Senate Bill 1108 — a controversial bill that would tighten the rules for getting a voter initiative or referendum on the Idaho ballot.  Senate State Affairs continued its hearing on SB 1108 but didn’t vote. The bill is back on State Affairs’ agenda for Wednesday morning.

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Sen. Branden Durst, D-Boise

Dual credit and IDLA. The Senate passed Senate Bill 1091, a $6.8 million bill designed to reestablish the dual credit program for students who finish high school early, and earmark “a stable, long-term funding formula” for the Idaho Digital Learning Academy. Sponsored by Sens. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, and Branden Durst, D-Boise, the bill passed 34-0, and goes to the House.

Kindergarten visits. The Senate approved Senate Bill 1057, Thayn’s proposal to encourage teachers to use part of the first week of class to visit with incoming kindergartners.

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Sen. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett

The vote was 29-5. Opposing were Sens. Les Bock, D-Boise; Dean Cameron, R-Rupert; Dan Johnson, R-Lewiston; Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint; and Roy Lacey, D-Pocatello. The bill goes to the House.