Day 2: Down To Business
by Angela Palm on 1/12/2010

The House Education Committee hit the ground running today.  At its first meeting, the Committee heard and took comments on six bills.  Chairman Brooks Coleman skipped the usual subcommittee hearings to move these bills through quickly so school districts would be better able to plan how to use the flexibility.  Much of this legislation came from suggestions made at the December hearing of the Education Appropriations Subcommittee.

The most heavily discussed were HB 904 which amends the distribution of the equalization grant and HB 908 which suspends the expenditure controls, the 65% requirement, K-8 class size, and the salary schedule through June 30, 2013.  There will be further work done on both these bills.  There were some concerns about how the flexibility in HB 908 would be used, the effect, whether local boards would act without public input or explanation, and how to hold the local boards accountable for their decisions.  Rep. Ed Lindsey suggested adding a requirement for written information to be sent out and a 30 day notice for a public hearing on the changes selected.  He also noted that if teacher salaries are cut, administrator salaries should also be cut.


What's In A Day?

The Governor is scheduled to make his State of the State Address to a joint session of the legislature tomorrow at 11 AM.  Usually this is also the time he delivers his budget report.  Rumor has it that he will not do so tomorrow.  A phone call to his Press Office late this afternoon resulted in an "I don't know if he will, but probably not."  Asked when he would deliver it, the answer was "Later this week, maybe Friday."  The Constitution requires him to submit a budget message, budget report, and a draft of a general appropriations bill within five days of the General Assembly convening each year for its regular session.  If that's five calendar days, Friday would seem to be it.  The House, however, has proposed a calendar in which they would be adjourned on Friday and return Monday, January 25th for day 5 of the legislature.  The Senate is scheduled to act on this resolution tomorrow.  So many ways to count time under the Gold Dome.


New Governor's Proposal

Gov. Perdue announced today that he will propose a new evaluation and compensation model for teachers and principals.  The merit pay would be in addition to the current salary schedule.  Current employees could opt in, but new employees would be required to participate.  It is expected to take a few years to be operational, perhaps 2013 or 2014.  It may take longer than that to be able to afford it.  Last year's HB 280 which provided additional compensation to math and science teachers becomes effective July 1, 2010 subject to appropriations.  It may be a while before we can afford that one either.


Another Gun Bill

The House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee met last week to hear HB 615 which would limit those with a concealed weapon permit from carrying their weapons only into the portions of buildings with courtrooms, jails or prisons.  They could carry them everywhere else including schools.  The bill was assigned to Rep. Matt Ramsey's subcommittee.  

Today Sen. Mitch Seabaugh dropped another gun bill also extending the right to carry a concealed weapon but exempted college dorms and K-12 schools.  There has been no clear indication as to the strength of the desire to change this law.


Keeping Up Long Distance

For those who want to watch the action but can't make it to the Capitol, much of it is webcast.  To watch the House Rules Committee or either chamber when they are in session, click here.  Many House committee meetings are also webcast and can be linked to here.




Wednesday, January 12

The General Assembly will be in session

The Governor will address a joint session at 11 AM


Thursday, January 13

The General Assembly will be in session

House Ways and Means Committee will meet upon adjournment in 606 CLOB

House Education Committee will meet at 2 PM in 506 CLOB.  They expect to vote on the following bills:

  • HB 906 which will extend the contract deadline to May 15th for the next three years
  • HB 907 which ends the requirement that the middle grades be in the same building to earn middle school funding
  • HB 905 which extends the capital outlay sunset date
  • A new bill that gives those in a leadership degree program until 2013 to complete it and still be paid for it.  A Senate amendment to last year's HB 455 put a sunset date of July 1, 2010.  This had not yet been assigned a number.