Day 21: Board Governance Bill Passes House
by Angela Palm on 3/8/2010

As expected, SB 84, the school board governance bill, passed the House today.  It's always interesting to watch the presentation of bills, to see how a bill is "sold" to the rest of the members.  After all the time we have spent on this bill, there was indeed new information.  

  • There were 18 hours of testimony in the House Education committee on this bill over the last two years.  Somebody must have been really bored to keep track of that. 
  • Accreditation and this bill are all about economic development.  Should we expect a new standard on this for districts to meet?
  • The bill creates a "firewall" that allows the Governor and State Board to intervene.  Wow.  Whoever thought of that description should get a bonus.
  • The bill lays out a memorandum of understanding between the board and superintendent.  Really?  What an odd thing that would be to put in state law -- and I have no idea where that would be in the bill.
  • Recall takes too long.  If that's true, why doesn't somebody fix it?

Rep. Fran Millar described the bill as giving do's and don'ts then noted the irony of the General Assembly giving do's and don'ts to anyone on behavior.  He also said that there is no harder job in public service than serving on a local board.

The bill passed 137-33 and now goes to the Senate for them to agree or disagree with the House version.

Revenue Continues to Fall

The February revenue numbers were released this afternoon, and the news was not good.  The state received 10% less than last year.  Year to date, FY 2010 is $1.35 billion less than 2009.  Those pushing for the dollar a pack increase in cigarette taxes might have picked the wrong sin tax.  Revenue from tobacco taxes was down 20% from last year but alcohol taxes were up 2%. There was a new description of the cigarette tax today -- it's now an impact fee.  Interesting choice of words since the legislature seems much more interested in raising fees than taxes. 

The Governor's office attributed part of the fall in revenue to the increased number of income tax refunds sent out this month compared to last year rather than to a poor economy.  The Governor did not indicate today whether he will reduce the revenue estimate based on these numbers.

Senate Passes First Aid Bill

SB 298, requiring first aid to be part of the health education curriculum, passed the Senate today with a few dissenting.  Some were concerned about adding any new requirements at this time.

The Senate also continues to try to bring more transparency to the budgeting process.  Last year they passed SB 206 requiring a report detailing all the state tax exemptions and their value to be part of the annual budget report, but it is being held in House Rules.  Today the Senate passed SB 381 which requires a report on the state fees charged be submitted with the budget report.

Assessment Limits Moving Forward Again

HR 1, the constitutional amendment limiting the increase in property assessments has been discussed several times this session in the Ad Valorem Subcommittee of House Ways and Means.  Today it received a "Do Pass" to go on to the full committee.  Last year it failed to get the needed 2/3 vote, but we should not take it for granted that the vote will be the same.  It's an election year, and legislators need a reason to vote against it as well as support for having voted that way if it goes to the House for a vote. 



Tuesday, March 9

House Ways and Means will meet at 2 PM in 606 CLOB.  

Senate Education and Youth will meet at 3 PM in 307 CLOB.  

Wednesday, March 10

Senate Education and Youth will meet at 8 AM in 450 CAP to hear SB 320, the Teachers' Bill of Rights, and SB 386, the Governor's merit pay proposal.