Missouri PTA is watching several bills during the 2013 Missouri Legislative Session. The last day for the Missouri Legislature to consider bills was Friday May 17th. All Truely Agreed To and Finally passed bills have been sent to the Governor. Below are the bills and current action as of 7/22/2013 that either support or oppose PTA resolutions and positions.
HB 50 sponsored by Rep. Mike Lair, District 007, and SB 7 sponsored by Sen. David Pearce, District 2, provides the Missouri Department of Education the flexibility to shorten the time frame, previously established by state law, to declare a school district unaccredited and establish a new governance system unique to the school districts needs. This bill falls in line with Missouri PTA’s Position - Accreditation As Soon As Possible adopted by the Board of Managers 2012. An Action alert was issued by Missouri PTA on SB7. SB 7 was passed by the Senate and sent to the House. HB 50 was voted Do Pass by the House Education Committee. SB 7 was also added into SB 125. SB 125 has been Truely Agreed To and Finally Passed. This bill was signed by Governor Nixon.
SB 132 and SB 133 both Sponsored by Senator Joseph Keaveny, District 3, would allow school districts to provide non-mandatory early childhood education for children ages 3-5 and provide funding through the funding formula. HB 596, sponsor John Wright, District 47, would allow school districts who are operating a state approved pre-kindergarten to be eligible for funding through the funding formula. Through the Position - Education Emphasis PTA is supportive of effective early education that is adequately funded and developmentally appropriate. Missouri PTA testified in support of both SB 132 and SB 133 and issued an Action Alert through the JC/DC network. Missouri PTA submitted testimony in support of HB 596. SB 133 voted Do Pass by the Senate Education Committee. SB 133 made it to the Senate Informal calendar for perfection during May but was not voted upon by the Senate. Look for this bill to be refilled next regular session.
SB 193 Sponsored by Senator Kurt Schaefer, District 19, and HB 528 Sponsored by Rep. Chrissy Sommer, District 106, would require the Missouri Department of Education to create an advisory council on the education of gifted and talented children. PTA believes that every child must be provided with a high-quality well-rounded education and especially recognizes the special needs of gifted and talented children. Through the Position - Education Emphasis PTA supports a stronger accountable system that places a priority on student performance and achievement. To do this schools must focus on what children know and are able to do and then be held accountable for ensuring that all children succeed. An Action alert was issued by Missouri PTA on SB 193. SB 193 was passed by the Senate and has been sent to the House. SB 193 was also added into SB 17. SB 17 has been Truely Agreed To and Finally Passed. This bill has been signed by Governor Nixon.
SB 210 sponsored by Senator John Lamping, District 24, and HB 616 sponsored by Rep. Kurt Bahr, District 102, are mirror bills that prohibit the State Board of Education from adopting the Common Core State Standards Initiative. PTA has been a strong supporter of Common Core State Standards Initiative since its inception. The Common Core State Standards Initiative was created by teachers, parents, education experts and others from across the country in an attempt to provide clear, consistent expectations for what students should be learning in each grade in order to be prepared for college and career. Ensuring high academic expectation for all students, regardless of their zip code, is aligned with PTA's public priority of equity and opportunity for every child. PTA has developed Parent Guides to the Common Core Standards for every grade level to help parents provide enrichment at home and help them develop a working dialogue with their child's teacher. These bills are an attempt to turn the Common Core State Standards into a political battle that will only hurt our children. We need everyone to come together to ensure that our children receive the best education. Missouri PTA is both opposed to and very disappointed in both these bills. Missouri PTA testified in opposition to both SB 210 and HB 616 an Action Alert was also issued through the JC/DC network. The House committee Downsizing State Government and Senate Education Committee voted Do Pass on HB 616 and SB 210. HB 616 was not voted upon by the House. SB 210 was passed by the senate and then by the house. This bill was sent back to the Senate to but was not voted upon to be Truely Agreed to and Finally Passed.
HB 134 sponsored by Rep. Sue Allen, District 100, expands the current bullying law to include discrimination, specifically prohibits bullying on school property and creates minimum standards with regard to bullying policy for school districts. All students should feel school is safe learning environment. PTA supports policies that deal with both bullying and bullying prevention. This bill is supported by the Missouri PTA’s Resolution - Bullying. Missouri PTA issued an Action Alert through the JC/DC network. HB 134 was voted out of the Elementary and Secondary Education committee and House Rules committee with a Do Passes. This bill was passed by the House and is now in the Senate. The Senate Education committee did give the bill a Do Pass but the Senate as did not vote on HB 134.
SB 284 sponsored by Sen. Scott Sifton, District 1, and HB 477, sponsored by Rep. Judy Morgan, District 24, would both remove the Bullying Law's current language that reads "Policies shall treat students equally and shall not contain specific lists of protected classes of students who are to receive special treatment" and replace this language with a specific list of identifying categories and characteristics. PTA is adamant in it's belief that every child should be protected from bullying. Each school building has its own unique identity made up by the current students in attendance. The categories and characteristics that prompt bullying in school environments can vary from building to building within a single school district. The proposed changes these two bill put forth would not allow protection children who are being bullied for reasons other than those specifically stated. While some bullies are motivated by specific characteristics or differences, others bully because of their own internal personal problems. All victims of bullying, regardless of the motivating factors, should be protected under the law because EveryChild counts.
Issue: School Safety
HB 70, Sponsored by Rep. Mike Kelley, District 127, and HB 276, Sponsored by Rep. Rick Brattin, District 055, would modify the current Missouri law allowing teachers and school administrators to carry a concealed firearm into schools. PTA’s “Components of an Effective School” recognizes the importance of a safe learning environment and describes an effective school’s climate as one with settings that are “safe and encourage the highest level of student learning and achievement.” In order to achieve an effective climate, schools must “have a gun-free environment." PTA does defer to local collaborative decisions allowing for the presence of law enforcement in schools. Missouri PTA, through the Position statement - Gun Safety and Violence Prevention opposes these bills.
SB 75, Sponsored by Sen. Dan Brown, District 16, would allow public and charter schools to train teachers and employees how to respond to armed intruders in schools. This bill also allows a gun safety class be taught to all 1st grade students. Through the Position statement - Gun Safety and Violence Prevention PTA has long been an advocate of establishing such programs. An Action alert was issued by Missouri PTA. SB 75 was Truely Agreed to and Finally Passed. This bill has been signed by Governor Nixon.
Issue: Firearm Safety
HB 89, Sponsored by Rep. Mike Colona, District 80, would create the "Firearm Responsibility Act" requiring all non-active firearms to be locked up. Through the Position statement - Gun Safety and Violence Prevention PTA has long advocated for gun safety locks and other gun safety devices.
Issue: Child Abuse
SB 113, Sponsored by Senator Eric Schmitt, District 15, requires all person 18 and older who are witness child sexual abuse to report the incident. Through the Resolution - Sexual Abuse of children Missouri PTA supports legislation that protects minors from sexual abuse and law enforcement efforts to eliminate sexual abuse of children.
HB 261, Sponsored by Rep. Rochelle Walton Gray, District 075, and SB 200 Sponsored by Senator Maria Chappell-Nadal, District 14, would allow public schools to offer dating abuse information in their health curriculum. Through the Position Statement Child Safety and Protection and the Resolution Prevention of Child Abuse, Neglect and Maltreatment, PTA supports legislation aimed to protect children from abuse.
HB 360, Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Roorda, District 113, would prohibit denial of mental health care and treatment for children who are suspected to be victims of abuse and neglect. PTA believes the well-being of a child is shared by the entire community and all its institutions and has long been committed to improving mental health access to children. This bill is supported by the PTA resolution Mental Health Programs and Services and the position statement Elements of Comprehensive Health Programs.
HB 266, sponsored by Rep. Rochelle Walton Gray, District 75, would create a "Task Force on Alternative Confinement for Victims of Human Sex Trafficking" designed to assist teenagers under the age of 18 arrested for prostitution to receive rehabilitative and safety protection services. PTA, through the Child Trafficking resolution adopted in 2009, supports services aimed to protect the rights of victims and provide support.
HB 505, sponsored by Rep. Marsha Haefner, District 95, would require mandatory reporters of child abuse to report directly to the Children's division striking out the option to just causing a report to be made (or reporting internally). No internal investigation may begin for the direct report has been made. Through the Resolution Prevention of Child Abuse, Neglect and Maltreatment, PTA supports legislation aimed to protect children from abuse. Missouri PTA issued an action alert on this bill. This bill has passed the House and the Senate. It has been Truely Agreed To and Finally Passed. HB 505 has been signed by Governor Nixon.
Issue: Distracted Driving
HB 145, Sponsored by Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger, District 108, HB 394 Sponsored by Rep. Michele Kratkey, District 82, and HB 524, Sponsored by Rep. Jill Schupp, District 88, would both change the current law restricting cell phone usage to pertain to all persons and expand the restricted use to all wireless communications with an exception for devises equipped with hands-free technology. Missouri PTA supports legislation that would restrict the use of portable communication devices while driving through the Resolution - Distracted Driving.
Issue: School Funding
SB 26 sponsored by Senator Will Kraus, District 8, and HB 253, Sponsored by Representative Berry, District 38. Unlike consumption tax or revenue and expenditure (TABOR and TELs) initiatives, both of which Missouri PTA strongly opposes, instead they are more of a hybrid tax rate cut plans that have a lot of parts – they address individual taxes, business taxes, use taxes, internet taxes and sales taxes. The biggest cut to the general revenue will come in the form of significant business tax cuts. SB 26 bill attempts to offset the income tax cuts by increasing sales tax. This type of 'consumption tax' adversely affects the elderly, and middle and lower income families. The income tax savings for these segments of the community typically does not offset the increases they will pay in sales tax. For the elderly and low income families who already pay little or no tax this sort of tax overhaul amounts to a tax increase. The possible effects of these bills have generated great concern in the education community. Currently the Missouri's school funding formula - a formula adopted by the Missouri General Assembly - remains underfunded by approximately $600 million. The tax overhaul outlined by these bills would inevitably insure full funding would not only never be reached but the amount underfunded may increase. Missouri PTA feels our members should be aware of the issues and facts surrounding these measures. Supporters argue such steps are necessary to complete with the state of Kansas. However, Kansas' tax reform plan was recently names worst in the nation - read the article in the Kansas City Star "Analysts from left and right call Kansas tax plan the worst in the U.S.". Missouri PTA has long maintained that the state should contribute at least 50% of the funding for public education. This helps to ensure all schools are receiving equitable funding. When the state's role in the funding of education demises it is up to local communities to increase their own levies in order to fund their schools. The result is increased disparity between districts. It is important for all children to have access to adequate education. Missouri PTA issued an Informational alert and has received notification that the majority of Education organizations and Advocacy groups are opposing this bill. Missouri PTA has issued an action alert on both these bills. SB 26 has passed both the Senate and the House. It is currently back in the Senate to address House added amendments. SB 26 did not receive a vote by the Senate to be Truely Agreed and Finally Passed. HB 253 has passed the House and Senate. HB 253 was Truely Agreed To and Finally Passed. Missouri PTA did send a letter to the Governor asking him to veto this bill. Governor Nixon vetoed HB 253 on June 5th. Missouri PTA was invited to attend the Governor's briefing and press conference relating to this veto. There are currently movements to both sustain and override the veto.
HB 458, Sponsored by Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst, District 98, would create a voucher system called an "educational scholarship" for specific students with special needs. Missouri PTA understands the difficulties parents of students with special needs face. The schools within the public school system are the only schools bound by law to address the needs of students with special needs. They are held accountable to specific standards set in place such as Individual education plans for special needs students. These types of standards address the student's specific needs and provide the parents with some control over their student's education. MOPTA has opposed all types of legislation that would transfer state funds to non public schools. For more information about the real effects of vouchers please visit this link - The Truth About Vouchers. This bill was consolidated in SB 17. SB 17 was Truely Agreed To and Finally Passed. This bill has been signed by Governor Nixon.
HJR 17, Sponsor Rep. Eric Burlison, District 136, and SJR 2, sponsor Senator Brad Lager, District 12, Limits on State Appropriations also referred to as TABOR (Taxpayer's Bill of Right) if passed would result in significant cutbacks to education and other service programs. This type of legislation came before the assembly in 2006 and in 2012; we opposed such legislation then as we do now. Schools already have and continue to face severe budgets cuts resulting in the loss of programs and limiting services to children. SJR 2 was voted Do Pass by the Ways and Means committee. HJR 17 was passed by the House and sent to the Senate. The Senate referred this bill to committee. HJR 17 did not make it out of the Senate committee. SJR 2 was not voted upon by the Senate. TABOR has been filed in several sessions. It is very likely we will see TABOR filed again next regular session. Missouri PTA and other education organizations have sent direct communication to the Senator President Pro Tem asking this not be brought to the floor. An Action alert was issued for SJR 2.
HJR 22, Sponsor Rep. Myron Neth, District 17, would allow a school districts bond indebtedness to be increased to 25% of accessed taxable tangible property if approved by a majority of the local voters. Missouri PTA recognizes the limits the current 15% indebtedness ceiling places on school districts to provide construction, expansion and renovation of facilities. This bill is supported by the Bonding Capacity resolution. HJR 22 was voted Do Pass by the House Education committee. The House did not vote on this Bill.
HJR 25, sponsored by Rep. Andrew Koenig, District 99, and SJR 24, sponsor Senator Ed Emery, district 31, are resolutions designed to constitutionally change our state tax structure from an income based to a consumption based system. This type of tax structure has also been referred to as the mega tax, fair tax and everything tax. Missouri PTA passed a position statement opposing consumption tax initiatives due to the harm they would cause to the welfare of children. HJR 25 was voted Do Pass by the Ways and Means committee. The House did not vote on HJR 25.
HB 736, sponsored by Rep. Dwight Schamhorst, District 98, would authorize an income tax deduction for tuition paid to an elementary or secondary school. Missouri PTA opposes this bill specifically because it contains a tax-credit style voucher. Missouri PTA does not approve the use of vouchers for any reason. For more information about vouchers and their harmful effects on all public schools, please see this link - The Truth About Vouchers.