News From the Capitol, April 16, 2021

2021-04-16 | Michigan Association of School Boards

  • House Committee Approves Election Date Changes
  • State Extends Epidemic Order
  • House Tax Policy Committee Considers Pension Tax Repeal
  • School Inspection Bill Advances to House Floor
  • House Panel Considers Changes to Substitute Teaching Law
  • Join Us Virtually Behind the Scenes
  • Registration Open for NSBA's Advocacy Institute

House Committee Approves Election Date Changes

On Tuesday, the House Elections and Ethics Committee approved a series of bills that would change the dates of elections in Michigan. House Bill 4530 eliminates the May election date and moves the August primary date to June beginning in 2023. Companion bills reflect the changes in other sections of law.

The bills were passed by committee with only one “no” vote from Rep. Steven Johnson (R-Wayland). They are now before the full House for consideration. MASB has been in conversations with Rep. Julie Calley (R-Portland) regarding our concerns and she has committed to continuing to work with us on them. We are hopeful that we can reach an agreement that alleviates our concerns with the legislation while addressing the issues raised by the clerks.

State Extends Epidemic Order

Today, the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services announced the extension of the current epidemic order. The only substantive change is extending the mask mandate to those aged 2-4 in public settings, including child care situations. This goes into effect on April 26, 2021.

The epidemic order is now in effect until May 24, 2021. This includes testing of all youth athletes aged 13-19 and gathering and capacity limits.

House Tax Policy Committee Considers Pension Tax Repeal

The House Tax Policy Committee began hearings this week on House Bill 4002, which would repeal the so-called pension tax. This repeal will cost the state approximately $370 million, $80 million of which is School Aid Fund revenue. The total amount is expected to grow by about $10 million each year as new retirees become eligible and retirement accounts continue to grow.

MASB opposes the bill because of its effect on School Aid Fund revenues. There is no mechanism to make up for the lost revenue. The chair of the committee indicated more work is expected and we hope to be in on those conversations to continue protecting the School Aid Fund.

School Inspection Bill Advances to House Floor

On Tuesday, the House Education Committee approved House Bill 4167, which would require all school buildings and any building on school property, public and nonpublic, to have an annual safety inspection.

MASB opposes this bill and submitted written testimony outlining our list of concerns. We believe in ensuring schools are safe places to work and learn, but the details of this bill make it expensive and difficult to implement without any additional safety benefit. Building inspections are already being conducted by health departments, fire departments, the state police and insurance carriers, among others. MASB suggests addressing capital needs and resources at the state level before requiring an additional annual inspection with tight restraints.

The bill was reported out of committee by a vote of 8-3 and is now before the full House for its consideration.

House Panel Considers Changes to Substitute Teaching Law

The House Education Committee began discussion on a pair of bills that are designed to address the shortage of substitute teachers. House Bills 4293 and 4294 would allow districts to use one of its current employees as a substitute teacher even if they do not have 60 college credits. It specifies that the employee would be paid their normal salary unless the pay for substituting is higher. There are also protections against being fired or retaliated against if an employee refuses to substitute and the bills exempt employment as a substitute teacher from collective bargaining. The bills would be effective until June 2026.

MASB supports the concept of the bills, however, we do not support the length of time these relaxed requirements would be in place. We would prefer that the waiver of the college credit requirement expire on June 30, 2022.

Join Us Virtually Behind the Scenes

On for Monday, April 26, 2021 from 9 a.m. to noon we will be hosting a virtual Behind the Scenes at the Capitol. This event will give board members a better understanding of the many issues being debated in Lansing and empower them to advocate on behalf of their districts. We hope you can join school board members from across the state and MASB staff to look into how things operate in Lansing.

Registration is now open and we encourage you to sign up today!   

Registration Open for NSBA's Advocacy Institute

The National School Boards Association's 2021 Advocacy Institute will be held virtually from June 8 – 10. Registration is now open and early bird pricing is available until April 30. NSBA is excited to provide this online experience focused on school board members' issues and priorities.

Due to it being an online event, MASB will not be hosting its usual kick-off lunch. However, we are trying to coordinate a virtual event with Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters to replace our customary breakfast. We hope you will join school board members from around the country for this advocacy event.