Legislation Update - 07/25/2010


Thursday, Senate Appropriations Committee met and heard about 70 bills. Although the majority were referred to their Suspense File, the committee succeeded in doing several hours of business and moving some bills to the floor for action quickly in August.

The only education bill moving forward was AB 2032 (Davis) regarding entertainment industry work permits for students.

The Senate is also mourning Sacramento area Senator Dave Cox (R) who passed away Monday after a long battle with cancer. He remained active until the end, chairing Senate Local Government Committee just last week. He was 72 years old. The 27 vote requirement for a budget vote in the Senate remains but the number of members to pull those votes from continues to decline as we wait to fill the new Lt. Governor’s seat and now the Cox seat opening.

Another change to the landscape was announced as well. Chief Justice Ronald George announced that he will retire after serving 19 years on the state Supreme Court, including 14 years as chief justice. Replacing him will be another task to take the Governor’s attention in the weeks ahead. The Governor has until Sept.16th to nominate someone to fill the seat whose name will go on the November ballot for voter approval. The Governor is already very preoccupied with his “legacy issue” of public pension reform.

It's Day 15 of the budget impasse. Senate Leaders Steinberg and Hollingsworth have been having some bi-partisan chats about solutions that they have not shared. It is widely assumed that they are trying to do a deal without a Big-5 discussion. Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez cancelled without explanation a planned news conference to discuss developments in negotiations. He reports that productive negotiations are continuing daily..

We’re still waiting for a package to be done. No meetings this week and are unlikely next week since Senator Mark Leno, a Democratic conferee, will be unavailable all week.

While the Governor and the Controller continue to battle over paying state employees minimum wage while we have no budget, just a reminder that the Controller can pay revenue limit funds to schools, but cannot pay categorical funds such as special ed and EIA without a budget in place.

The Federal government continues to battle over the source of funding included in the Afghanistan appropriations bill to restore positions cut from schools. We remain optimistic that some resolution will be found in August. The House Education Committee also finished it’s mark-up of the re-authorization of the school nutrition program bill. Don’t expect additional dollars with this, but the program is moving forward.

We’re still waiting on Race to the Top Round II decisions. Winners are suppose to be announced by July 27. The Common Core Standards have also been a heated discussion in Sacramento this week. For more on that process visit http://sia-standards-watch.blogspot.com. The blog provides a running commentary on the Common Core adoption debate in California as well as background material on academic standards and the systems to support them.

The State Board of Education met for 2 ½ long days, with the first afternoon a joint meeting with the Community College Board of Governors to discuss career technical education and job preparation. Members characterized the meeting as very cordial and informative. In the 2-day regular meeting, many controversial items were presented. There was substantial discussion over the list of 1,000 “low performing” schools that was approved without changes other than to re-title it as the “full choice” schools list. No more negative overtones – just the same consequences. Open Enrollment and the Parent Trigger were both long discussions, as was the 2-year extension of the contract with ETS as the test contractor.

The Governor has been signing a few bills that went to him before the break.

AB 346 (Conway) would undo some unintended impacts of a law he signed just last year that required new fingerprinting of campus volunteers.

The original bill was aimed at preventing a coach or supervisor of an extra-curricular activity that was asked to leave by one district – to get an appointment to similar duties at another district that was unaware of prior troubles. But vague wording and lack of some definitions caused uncertainty, causing Conway to bring in a cleanup bill this year.

AB 346 gives districts the option of using either a criminal background check through the Department of Justice and the FBI or using the system created by her first bill conducted by the state’s teacher credentialing agency. The new bill also clarifies the Legislature’s intent now is to have all individuals working with students to be fingerprinted – as opposed to what the prior bill attempted to do by identifying specific job titles such as pupil activity supervisors, directors and coaches, which includes head coaches and head activity directors or supervisors.

Finally, the new bill excludes from the fingerprinting mandate parent volunteers on a field trip or community members coming on campus for a speech.

Additionally he signed:

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