This week was a busy week in the Louisiana capitol. As we wrap up the third week of the session, here is some of the most important legislation to make its way through Committees. As always, LFT is tracking all legislation that could impact Louisiana teachers and school employees. Here's what you need to know.
The MFP is Sent Back to BESE
On Thursday, the Senate Education Committee considered SCR 2, which is the legislative vehicle for the MFP – the school funding formula. The Committee decided to return the MFP to the Board of Elementary and ask that they increase the teacher/school employee pay raise. The recommendation they submitted to BESE, calls for a $1,000 increase for teachers/certified personnel and $500 for uncertified personnel.
HB 256 by Rep. Tarver APPROVED by the House Education Committee
If passed, this legislation would allow predatory organizations to recruit members and extract dues from school personnel, even when there is a union with collective bargaining & exclusivity. This means that the alternate and potentially exploitative organizations could make promises to “represent” and “advocate” for members, but wouldn’t actually be able to make good on those promises – leaving unsuspecting teachers and support staff left in the lurch.
This legislation is designed to undermine the collective voice of Louisiana’s teachers and school employees by fracturing and dividing our representational power. It would undercut the collective voice of teachers and school employees and override local control. Ultimately leaving teachers with less ability to advocate for themselves both in their own school districts and throughout the Louisiana legislature.
SB 22 by Senator Peacock FAILED to pass through the Senate
LFT members sent nearly 7,000 emails to Louisiana Senators asking them to oppose Senate Bill 22 – and your voices were heard! On Tuesday, April 27th Senate Bill 22 by Senator Peacock came before the full Senate and was returned to the calendar.
LFT strongly opposed Senate Bill 22 because it would have raised the age of retirement to 67 for all future employees. In order to receive full benefits, new teachers, school employees, bus drivers and other public servants would have to work 40 years, or until the age of 67. Senator Peacock asked that his bill be “returned to the calendar,” which leaves open the possibility that he could ask for his bill to be reconsidered at a later date. LFT will continue to remain vigilant as the session unfolds.
SB 136 by Rep. Fred Mills. APPROVED by the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee
In the past, state agencies have been able to create “emergency” authorizations that enable them to fast-track policy changes without appropriate over-site. This legislation would more clearly define what constitutes an “emergency” in order to prevent government agencies from evading proper protocols. This will improve transparency and public oversight. (SUPPORT)
HCR 39 by Rep. Mincey APPROVED by the Senate Education Committee
This legislation would create a task force to study strategies and best procedures by which the state and individual school districts can recruit and retain a stronger educator workforce. This task force will include those who are most qualified to speak on these issues: active Louisiana teachers. (SUPPORT)
HB 564 by Rep. Garofalo FAILED in the House Education Committee
This legislation would have created onerous restrictions around the subject material that Louisiana teachers and colleges may present to their students – further eroding the professional autonomy of Louisiana teachers and undermining the integrity of our profession. Teachers and staff cannot and should not discuss political preferences in their classroom, but this bill goes far beyond politics and seeks to silence the tradition of open discussion and critical analysis in schools. (OPPOSE)
Rep. Garofalo has received national attention (https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/04/28/ray-garofalo-louisiana-good-slavery/) regarding his presentation of HB 564 in the House Committee meeting and the legislative black caucus has asked that he be removed as Chairman of the House Education Committee given his comments.
SB 24 by Sen. Price was APPROVED Unanimously by the full Senate
Would increase the minimum benefit for retirees to $1,450 per month. Unfortunately, this won’t increase everyone’s monthly benefit, but it will provide an increase for those who have fallen below the poverty line. Sen. Price has expressed his intent to continue to work to increase benefits for retirees in the future. (SUPPORT)
HB 364 by Rep. White was APPROVED by the House Education Committee
This legislation would increase per-mile compensation for school bus owner-operators. (SUPPORT)
HB 494 by Rep. Mincey is DELAYED in the House Education Committee
Rep. Mincey’s bill was scheduled to be heard in the House Education Committee this week, but the Chairman ruled that the bill would not be heard, delaying the hearing until next week. This legislation approaches school choice in a way that retains local control over student enrollment. It allows for more opportunities for students, regardless of geographic boundaries or school letter-grades. (SUPPORT)