Below are some of the education bills that were approved by the House and are now under review in the Senate committees the first half of this week (March 6–10). These summaries are the digests created by the Statehouse.
There are two bills of great concern:
1. HB1004 due to the K-12 voucher language in a Pre-K bill. Voucher language that will greatly expand the voucher program in this state.
2. HB1001 is of greatest concern due to the substandard increase in public education funding for the next two fiscal years. The reading begins tomorrow, with education funding specifically reviewed on March 13.
One should wonder what happened to bills such as HB1568 - Elimination of Textbook Fees, which didn't go anywhere so far (in past years it didn't make it too far either, see here and here). Indiana is one of only 8 states that charges out-of-pocket fees for textbooks and technology. And the reason why it's legally okay to charge a fee is due to poor wording of Indiana's constitution. Instead of guaranteeing a free public education, Indiana guarantees free tuition.
Bill to Be Read by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday, March 6 2017
Members of the committee, how to contact them, and more details on this bill can be found here. Note that the School Funding Subcommittee reviews K-12 school funding on March 13. Details and members are listed here.
HB1001 - State biennial budget. Appropriates money for capital expenditures, the operation of the state, K-12 and higher education, the delivery of Medicaid and other services, and various other distributions and purposes. Provides for bonding authority for capital projects for higher education institutions. Repeals the bonding authority for the Purdue University West Lafayette-Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory enacted in 2007. Terminates the legislative evaluation and oversight program. Replaces the statutory appropriation from the counter cyclical and revenue stabilization fund to the state general fund based on the budget report with a limited discretionary transfer determined by the budget director and approved by the governor. Specifies powers of the treasurer of state, acting as the chairperson of the achieving a better life experience (ABLE) board, related to the approval of expenses of the ABLE board and the ABLE authority. Adds powers for an emergency manager appointed by the distressed unit appeal board (DUAB) and removes the requirement to carry out certain actions. Adds conditions for the termination of distressed status. Permits an emergency manager to request that the DUAB waive the requirement that protected taxes are not reduced as a result of the circuit breaker credit for excessive property taxes. Specifies for purposes of a claim against a governmental entity that the emergency manager is acting on behalf of the distressed political subdivision and not the state. Provides civil immunity for an emergency manager with respect to an act or omission made in the course and scope of duties prescribed by the DUAB. Eliminates certain special provisions applying to school corporations, including the provisions applying to the Gary Community School Corporation. Designates the Gary Community School Corporation as a distressed political subdivision. Requires the DUAB to annually review the Gary Community School Corporation to determine whether the designation of distressed unit status should be terminated. Requires the emergency manager to report to the DUAB monthly instead of quarterly. Permits the attorney general to represent the emergency manager upon request in certain matters. Increases the cigarette tax by $1 to $1.995 per pack of regular size cigarettes (and a corresponding increase for larger cigarettes), and uses the additional revenue for reimbursements of Medicaid providers. Establishes the Medicaid provider reimbursement fund for deposit of a part of the cigarette taxes, registration fees, fines, and penalties collected under the cigarette tax law. Provides for an income tax deduction for military retirement and survivor's benefits of $8,000 for the 2018 taxable year and $16,000 for a taxable year after 2018 (retains a $5,000 deduction for military income that is not a military retirement benefit, which is now a combined deduction including military income and military retirement benefits). Increases the maximum school scholarship income tax credits that may be awarded during a state fiscal year beginning after June 30, 2017, to be the greater of $12,500,000 or the total amount of credits awarded in the most recent state fiscal year multiplied by 120%. Eliminates the expiration provisions in current law for the venture capital investment tax credit. Provides that a taxpayer may assign all or part of a venture capital investment tax credit. Specifies certain restrictions on the assignment of a venture capital investment tax credit. Provides that the issuance or assignment of a certificate or tax credit under the venture capital investment tax credit is not subject to the Indiana securities law. Provides that an acute care hospital is entitled to a credit against the hospital's adjusted gross income tax liability equal to 50% of the property taxes paid in Indiana. (The current credit is equal to 10% of the property taxes paid in Indiana.) Provides that the amount of any unused credit may be claimed as a refundable tax credit. Repeals requirements for estimates of local income tax certified distributions by the budget agency. Changes the name of the next generation trust and trust fund to the next level Indiana trust and trust fund. Establishes the next level Indiana board to be the trustee of the trust fund and to direct the investments of the trust. Provides broader investment powers to the trustee. Caps the investments that may be made by the next level Indiana trust fund at 50% for investments that maximize risk appropriate returns and that make significant investments in Indiana funds and companies. Removes obsolete provisions concerning the trust fund. Specifies that money in each horse breed development fund is continuously appropriated to make payments ordered by the horse racing commission. Specifies that the horse racing commission's share of the money in the gaming integrity fund is continuously appropriated to carry out the purposes of the fund. Specifies that the money in the standardbred horse fund is continuously appropriated to carry out the purposes of the fund. Provides that a governmental entity may issue a request for information with respect to a public-private agreement: (1) to consider the factors involved in, the feasibility of, or the potential consequences of a contemplated project involving a public facility or transportation project; (2) to prepare a request for proposals; or (3) to evaluate any aspect of an existing public-private agreement. Provides that responses to a request for information are confidential unless confidentiality is waived in writing. Provides that the governmental entity issuing the request for information is not required to take any action after receiving a response to a request for information. Repeals provisions authorizing the Indiana finance authority to enter into a public-private agreement for communications systems infrastructure with a single offeror based solely on a request for information. Establishes the Indiana tourism task force to study the tourism departments of other states for the purposes of learning: (1) the structure of state tourism departments; (2) the level of funding provided to state tourism departments; and (3) the relationship between state funding of a state's tourism department and the economic impact of tourism on the state. Merges the law enforcement academy building fund and the law enforcement training fund into the law enforcement academy fund with no changes to the funds' uses. Allows the law enforcement academy to charge a fee to all users for training and corresponding marginal and fixed costs according to an annual cost and fee schedule approved by the budget director. Allows the academy to house and train law enforcement agencies from outside Indiana. Provides that deer research and management fund fee revenue, migratory waterfowl stamp revenue, and game bird restoration stamp revenue may be retained in the fish and wildlife fund if the budget agency finds that it would reduce the balance in the fish and wildlife fund below $3,000,000 at the end of the state fiscal year. Changes the expiration dates for the hospital assessment fee and the health facility quality assessment fee from June 30, 2017, to June 30, 2021. Modifies the replacement facility exemption for purposes of the prohibition on the approval of licensure of comprehensive care health facilities and comprehensive care beds, and extends the prohibition through June 30, 2023. Provides for an increase in the reimbursement rate for certain services provided to an individual under a Medicaid waiver and whose services are delivered by direct care staff. Provides for K-12 school funding. Permits a transfer of up to $25,000,000 in each state fiscal year from the state tuition reserve account to the state general fund to cover for any reduction in state tuition support distributions because choice scholarships exceed estimates. Establishes the school corporation efficiency incentive grant program. Provides that certain reorganized school corporations are eligible for a one time efficiency incentive grant if requirements are met. Provides that the grant may be used to: (1) pay expenses associated with the reorganization, including professional service fees, legal costs, and necessary capital expenditures; and (2) provide salary bonuses to teachers. Provides that the amount of the grant is $500 multiplied by the most recent ADM (average daily membership) count of the reorganized school corporation. Provides that a reorganized school corporation may increase its new combined maximum permissible school transportation levy and school bus replacement levy by 3% after all other adjustments. Increases the funding from $6,600 to $6,850 per student for three charter schools that provide adult education. Increases the number of students that may be funded for the Christel House DORS centers and the Gary Middle College charter schools. Provides that accredited and nonaccredited nonpublic schools are eligible to receive a matching grant to establish a school security program. Permits the governing body of the School City of East Chicago school corporation to file a waiver to exempt the Carrie Gosch Elementary School building from the requirement to make the school building available to a charter school for lease or purchase. Requires the department of local government finance to grant the waiver if requested. Specifies that the automated record keeping fee continues to be $19 after June 30, 2017, through June 30, 2019 (under current law, the fee becomes $5 after June 30, 2017), and provides that the fee becomes $5 after June 30, 2019. Provides $5,000,000 from a 2013 appropriation for the health and safety contingency fund to rehabilitate a state owned building to be used to provide services to Indiana's veterans. Requires the budget agency to transfer an amount from the state general fund to the state bicentennial capital account to cover obligations incurred before July 1, 2017. Provides that the amount transferred may not exceed $5,500,000. Extends the legislative and judicial branch leave conversion pilot program through June 30, 2019. Requires the budget agency to do a comparison of salary and benefits for conservation officers, state excise police, and gaming agents. Urges the legislative council to assign to a study committee the topic of having a local option program to provide a property tax assessed value deduction for some long time owner-occupants of residences if the residences are located in designated distressed areas where real property values have risen markedly as a consequence of the renovation of other residences or the construction of new residences in the area. Makes technical corrections.
ICPE is against the budget as is because of the insulting 1.1% increase in funding of the education budget over the next two fiscal years—which is below the standard rate of inflation. 201 of the 292 public school corporations will either lose money in 2017-18 or will receive less than 1%. Read this blog entry for more information on the matter. ICPE urges citizens to call their state senators and voice their opinion on the matter.
Bill to Be Read by the Senate Education and Career Development Committee on Wednesday, March 8 2017
Members of the committee and more details on these bills can be found here.
HB 1004 - Prekindergarten education. Allows the division of family resources (division) to award an early education matching grant to an eligible potential eligible provider or existing eligible provider that: (1) submits an expansion plan to the division that details the potential eligible provider's or existing eligible provider's plan to: (A) increase the capacity of providers of eligible services to serve a greater number of eligible children; (B) increase the number of providers of eligible services; or (C) increase capacity of and increase the number of providers; and (2) meets certain other requirements. Requires a potential eligible provider or existing eligible provider to repay to the division the total amount of the grant awarded if the potential eligible provider or existing eligible provider fails to use the grant funds in accordance with the expansion plan or in compliance with the agreement with the division. Prohibits the division from using more than a total of 20% of the money in the early education matching grant program fund each state fiscal year for grants awarded to potential eligible providers and existing eligible providers for expansion plans. Amends household income requirements for eligibility of a child for the: (1) early education matching grant program; and (2) early education pilot program (pilot program). Provides that the pilot program may include eligible providers from 10 (instead of five) counties. Amends the amount of grant money an eligible child may receive under the pilot program based on annual household income. Provides that in kind funds, as determined by the office of the secretary of family and social services, meet the requirements regarding matching funds under the early education matching grant and the pilot program. Changes references to the "pilot program" to the "prekindergarten pilot program". Provides that: (1) an individual who: (A) receives an early education grant under the pilot program in the immediately preceding school year or received eligible services as an eligible child under the early education matching grant program in the immediately preceding school year from a provider that received an early education matching grant; and (B) is a member of a household with an annual income of not more than 200% of the amount required to qualify for the federal free or reduced price lunch program; is an eligible choice scholarship student; and (2) the individual is entitled to receive at least 50% of the state tuition support amount. Repeals a provision that provides that the receipt of a grant under the pilot program does not qualify, nor have an effect on the qualification or eligibility, of a child for a choice scholarship. Repeals an expired provision concerning the pilot program.
ICPE is against this bill due to the K-12 voucher language. Please contact the committee senators and tell them that a Pre-K bill does not need K-12 voucher ("choice scholarship") language in it. The voucher language in HB 1004, if passed as is, will allow the biggest K-12 voucher expansion since the 2013 session. House Bill 1004 makes every student that gets a pre-kindergarten grant eligible for a K-12 voucher for the rest of their 13 years of K-12 schooling. Read more here.
HB 1024 - Prayer in schools. Provides that a school corporation or charter school shall not discriminate against a student or a student's parent on the basis of a religious viewpoint or religious expression. Provides that students may express their beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their submissions. Provides that public school students may pray or engage in religious activities or religious expression before, during, and after the school day in the same manner and to the same extent that students may engage in nonreligious activities or expression. Provides that students in public schools may wear clothing, accessories, and jewelry that display religious messages or religious symbols in the same manner and to the same extent that other types of clothing, accessories, and jewelry that display messages or symbols are permitted. Requires a school corporation or charter school to adopt a policy that must include the establishment of a limited public forum for student speakers who wish to include religious content at all school events at which a student is to publicly speak. Provides that the policy shall include requirements that require a school corporation or charter school to state, in writing, orally, or both, that the student's speech does not reflect the endorsement, sponsorship, position, or expression of the school corporation or charter school. Provides that the policy must include measures to make reasonable accommodations for individuals who wish to be excused from a student's speech that includes religious content because of the individual's own religious belief or lack of religious belief. Requires the department of education, in collaboration with the attorney general's office and organizations with expertise in religious civil liberties, to establish a model policy. Provides that each school corporation may include as an elective in the school corporation's high school curriculum a course surveying religions of the world.
HB 1079 - School safety. Provides that, if an applicant is hired: (1) after the beginning of the school year and starts work during the same school year; or (2) within 30 days before the beginning of the school year; the school corporation, charter school, or nonpublic school must conduct the expanded criminal history check before or not later than one month after the applicant's employment by the school corporation, charter school, or nonpublic school. Requires a school corporation, charter school, or nonpublic school to adopt a policy to conduct an expanded child protection index check in each state in which information is available concerning each applicant for noncertificated employment or certificated employment before or not later than three months after the applicant's employment by the school corporation, charter school, or nonpublic school. Provides that a school corporation, charter school, or nonpublic school shall conduct an expanded criminal history check and expanded child protection index check on each employee every five years. Provides that a school corporation, charter school, or nonpublic school may implement the requirement for updated background checks for current employees over a five year period. Requires a school corporation, charter school, or nonpublic school with at least one employee to adopt a policy requiring the school employer to contact references and, if applicable, the most recent employer of a prospective employee, before the school corporation or charter school may hire the prospective employee. Requires the department of child services to notify a school corporation, charter school, or nonpublic school that employs one or more employees if a report of child abuse or neglect is substantiated against an employee or volunteer of the school corporation, charter school, or nonpublic school. Provides that the department of education may reinstate a license that has been revoked if the person's conviction record has been expunged. Provides that a school corporation, charter school, or nonpublic school may agree to pay costs associated with obtaining a background check. Provides that an employee may not be required to pay costs associated with a background check more than one time during a five year period. Provides that upon request by a school or school corporation, the state police, or a consumer reporting agency conducting an expanded child protection index check, the department of child services shall verify the accuracy of a substantiated report of child abuse or neglect listed in the child protection index. Provides that the department of child services shall give written notice of a substantiated report of child abuse or neglect to a school. Provides that the department of child services or an employee of the department of child services is immune from civil liability for providing notice to schools of substantiated reports of child abuse or neglect. Provides that the immunity does not apply to acts or admissions amounting to gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct. Requires a court to: (1) recommend revocation of a defendant's teaching license (license) if the defendant holds a license and is convicted of certain felonies or the defendant is convicted of certain crimes and the victim is a child less than 18 years of age; and (2) deliver any order recommending revocation of the defendant's license to the department of education (department). Requires the department to revoke the license upon receipt of the order. Allows the department to reinstate a license if a person has been pardoned or the person's conviction has been reversed, vacated, or set aside on appeal.
HB 1136 - Latch key programs. Requires a charter school to offer latch key programs. Provides that a school corporation or charter school may include children who attend preschool offered by the school corporation in a school age child care program (commonly referred to as a latch key program) conducted by the school corporation or charter school.
HB 1281 - Various higher education matters. Allows the commission for higher education to extend, with limitations, eligibility for certain grants or reductions in tuition or fees for recipients who used the grants or reductions in tuition or fees at postsecondary educational institutions that have closed. Amends provisions regarding renewal of certain scholarships and tuition and fee remissions. Changes the term "professional degree program" to "professional degree program or accelerated graduate degree program" and amends the definition. Amends the provision regarding the use of renewals and extensions of certain grants or reductions in tuition or fees for professional degree programs or accelerated graduate degree programs. Allows recipients of certain grants, scholarships, or remissions of fees to: (1) use, with certain limitations, funds from the grants, scholarships, or remissions of fees to pay for costs associated with prior learning assessments that the student attempts to earn during the academic year in which the student receives the grants, scholarships, or remissions of fees; and (2) count anticipated credit hours for prior learning assessments toward attendance requirements. Establishes the children of veterans and children and surviving spouses of public safety officers tuition and fee exemption reimbursement fund to provide reimbursement to state educational institutions for tuition and fee remissions for eligible children of veterans and eligible children and surviving spouses of public safety officers.
HB 1396 - Teacher licensing for military spouses. Requires the state board of education to adopt rules, including emergency rules, that establish procedures to expedite the issuance, renewal, or reinstatement of a teacher license to a military spouse whose husband or wife is assigned to a duty station in Indiana. (Current law allows, but does not require, the state board to adopt such rules.)
HB 1340 - Staff training concerning youth suicide. Provides that, after June 30, 2018, each school corporation, charter school, or accredited nonpublic school shall require certain school employees to attend or participate in at least two hours of evidence based inservice youth suicide awareness and prevention training every two school years.