Regular Session Wrap-Up – April 7, 2013

Regular Session Wrap-Up – April 7, 2013

The main part of the 2013 Legislative Session ended late Friday night
with action on several education bills. 
However, the critical issues of the state budget and revenues to finance
it will have to wait until legislators return to the statehouse May 8 for the
final wrap-up session.  Here is a summary
of educational issues addressed this year. 
Remember, bills that did not pass can still be considered during the
final session, and all bills not sent to the Governor or actually killed will
carry over to next year.
School Finance: Formula
One of the final bills passed by the House and Senate Friday night was a
conference committee report on SB 23, which contained three school finance formula issues and two provisions
described in other sections below.
First, it extends the 20 mill statewide school district levy for the
maximum period of two years allowed under the state constitution.  (KASB testified in support.)
Second, it extends the second count date for military students scheduled
to expire this year until 2017, as originally by passed by both the House and
Senate in different versions of HB 2109(KASB was neutral.)
Third, it amends the current ancillary weighting factor to provide for
six year phase-out, rather than the current three year phase out.  Ancillary weighting is used by a small number
of rapidly growing school districts and funded entirely by a local property tax.  (KASB was neutral.)
Bills receiving a hearing in the Senate Education Committee but not passed were proposals
to change the formula, including SB 103, which would have changed the basis of at-risk funding for students in
fourth grade and above from free-lunch eligibility to non-proficient test
scores, and SB 224, which would have eliminated virtual, non-proficient, bilingual and
vocational weightings and prorated the at-risk weighting.  (KASB testified in opposition to both.)  The Senate also considered floor amendments
to the budget that would have eliminated virtual and new facilities weightings
to finance a higher level of local option budget state aid.  (KASB opposed these proposals which would
have simply shifted among districts.)
School Finance: Local Revenues
The House rejected a floor amendment to create authorize a Local Activities
Budget for certain districts, funded local property taxes.  This concept was proposed in several bills, SB 133, HB 2248.  (KASB testified in opposition
because state equalization aid was not provided.)
School Finance: Capital Costs
SB 23 also authorizes districts to use capital outlay funds for school
district property maintenance, equipment for academic uses, computer software,
and performance uniforms.  However, prior
to such authorization, the state must certify that capital outlay state aid is
fully funded at the amount a district is entitled to receive.  Funding for capital outlay state aid is not
included in the budget passed by the House and Senate.  The Gannon
school finance decision ruled that the current capital outlay system is
unconstitutional if state aid is not provided. 
(KASB supported the expansion of capital outlay because it is contingent
on state aid funding.)
For the first time in several years, neither chamber passed or even held
a hearing on bills to reduce or eliminate state capital improvement aid for
bond and interest payments.  (KASB
opposes reducing state aid for capital improvement.)
School Finance: Use of Funds
Also passed Friday was HB 2261One part of that bill makes permanent the authority of school
districts to transfer unexpended balances from certain restricted funds to
general education purposes.  It also removes
any limit on the amount districts may place in the contingency fund.  (KASB testified in support.)
The bill does not contain an earlier provision that would have required 65
percent of transfers be spent on instruction. No hearings were held on bills to
require that specific funds be spent on instruction, or to amend or define the
65 percent “policy goal.”  (KASB supports
repealing or redefining the “65 percent to the classroom” goal.)
School Finance: Appropriations
School districts will not know exactly what they have spent next year
until after May 8 because the Legislature did not reach agreement on the state
budget or appropriations bill.  However,
both the House and Senate have passed budgets based on the Governor’s
recommendations as follows: add funding in the current year to maintain base state
aid at $3,838 this year; fund base aid at $3,838 in FY 2014; and $3,852 in FY 2015;
provide no change in funding for Local Option Budget and special education
state aid; use state highway fund transfers for partial funding of
transportation weighting and special education aid; provide formula increase
for capital improvement aid and KPERS payments.  (KASB testified against further cuts in
education funding, which this budget avoids; but also supported increased
funding for base state aid, local option budget aid, capital outlay aid and
certain targeted funds, which this budget does not provide.)
The Governor proposed and both chambers have passed a two year budget
for Fiscal Years 2013-14 and 2014-15. 
(KASB testified in support of a two-year budget.)
State Revenue and Tax
The House and Senate have passed significantly different tax bills, both
of which provide less revenue than the Governor’s original proposal to fund his
budget.
The Senate plan, in HB 2059, maintains the state sales tax at the current rate and phases out most
state income tax deductions; then begins a further reduction in state income
tax rates over four years; and provides an automatic income tax rate reduction
when state revenues grow more than 4 percent per year.  It is estimated to raise $316.2 million in FY
2014 and $276.5 million in FY 2015; which would provide an estimated five
percent state general fund ending balance in FY 2015 under the Senate budget
plan.  It would also reduce state revenues
by $381.0 million in FY 2018 due to further income tax rate reductions.
The House plan, in SB 84, allows the state sales tax rate to drop from 6.3 percent to 5.7 percent on June 30 as scheduled under current law; provides a gradual reduction
in itemized deductions; and enacts a formula to use a portion of state general
fund revenues when growth exceeds 2 percent per year to further reduce income
taxes.  It is estimated to raise $108.3
million in FY 2014 and $87.8 million in FY 2015, which provides almost no
ending balance in FY 2015 under the House budget plan.
These revenue and ending balance projections may change later this month
when new Consensus Revenue Estimates are released.  If revenue projections are lowered, there
will be increased pressure to either raise more revenue or cut spending.  If projections are raised, some will argue
that economic growth can cover the budget without higher tax rates.
Local Property Taxes
The House passed HB 2047 earlier in the session.  It requires
local governments, including school boards, to have a separate vote to use
increased property tax revenue from valuation growth, and publish the vote in
the official county newspaper.  The
Senate has not held hearings, but the bill could still be adopted through a tax
bill conference committee report.  (KASB testified
in opposition because of the additional cost of publication for budget
information that is already available and because school boards are already
limited in spending and taxes; but believes the bill would have little
practical effect.)
The House has never brought up for debate HB 2285, which amends the definition of machinery and equipment for taxation.  The bill would make certain property which
has been classified as real property reclassified as commercial machinery and
equipment, reducing the tax rate and therefore total statewide valuation by an
estimated $584 million.  This would
reduce revenues from the 20 mill levy by about $12 million per year.  However, it is also anticipated to have very
different impacts on various school districts due the characteristics of their
property base.  This would result in
changes in the calculation of school district wealth per pupil, which would
shift funding for local option budget state aid.  (KASB testified in opposition.)
School Budgets and Auditing
Another provision of SB 23 passed on Friday requires reporting additional school budget
information on the school district and Kansas State Department of Education
websites, as passed by the Senate originally in SB 171.  (KASB testified in opposition
to the bill in committee but amendments removed requirements for new reporting
of student activities information.  The
new requirements concern information that is readily available and KASB became
neutral.)
Also on Friday, the House passed and sent to the Governor HB 2349, which directs three school district efficiency audits annually by the Legislative
Post Audit division.  Senate amendments
placed a sunset on the requirement and specified that districts would not have
more than one audit from LPA or other entities every five years.  (KASB testified in support.)
School Programs and
Requirements
On Friday, the House and Senate passed HB 2140, a substantially amended version of the Governor’s Read to Succeed
program.  The bill provides that
beginning in 2016-17 school year, districts that have a higher percentage of
students scoring in the lowest achievement level on state reading assessments
will have to adopt a policy for possible retention of certain students in first
grade, rather than third grade as proposed by the Governor and adopted in some
other states.  The bill provides numerous
exceptions to the mandatory retention policy. 
It also creates a new grant program to assist struggling readers in the
early grades, a task force to study reading interventions, and a recognition
program for schools demonstrating the most improvement in fourth grade reading
results.  (KASB testified in opposition to
the original bill, SB 169, and recommended it be limited to districts not showing reading
improvement; believes the bill was substantially improved.)
On Friday, the House and Senate passed the conference committee report on
HB 2109, which requires technology protection measures be implemented and
enforced at both the school district and public library levels.  “Technology protection measure” is defined as
any computer technology or other process that blocks or filters online access
to visual depictions tied to the definition of the same term contained in the
Kansas statute dealing with the crime of sexual exploitation of a child.  The provision originally passed the Senate SB 104 – Children’s Internet Protection Act.  (KASB was neutral because the same
requirements are generally included in federal e-rate policies.)
Also on Friday, the conference committee report adopted for HB 2261 contained two provisions regarding school district requirements.
First, the bill requires school district policies to broaden the
definition of bullying to mean any threat by a student, staff member, or parent
toward a student or by any student, staff member, or parent toward a staff
member, and that this definition be reflected in the school districts’ policies
and plans to address bullying.  This
passed the House in HB 2222.  (KASB was neutral on the original
bill, which did not include students; and is concerned about the legal
implications of adding parents.)
Second, the bill designates the week containing September 17 (or any
other full school week as determined by the local school board) as “Celebrate
Freedom Week,” during which public schools would be required to teach to grades
kindergarten through eight the history of the country’s founding, with
particular emphasis on the Declaration of Independence and the U.S.
Constitution, without censorship of religious references in the writings of the
founding fathers when presented as part of the instruction.  The Kansas State Board of Education shall
adopt rules and regulations to require history and government curriculum for
grades kindergarten through eight that includes this instruction.  The requirement passed the House in HB 2280, and was modified by the conference committee to be limited to grades
K-8.  (KASB was neutral because this
instruction is already largely contained in history/government standards.
The Senate Education Committee did not pass SB 44, which would requires specific
services for student with dyslexia in excess of the federal special education
law (KASB testified in opposition), or SB 137, which would require school
boards adopt bullying plans with site council input; post on their website and
file with state (KASB testified in support). 
A hearing was scheduled but cancelled on SB 172, which would prohibit use of Carnegie units for graduation. (KASB
supports the concept, but opposes if effective immediately.)
After extensive hearings and discussion, the House Education Committee voted down a motion to
recommend HB 2289, which would prohibit implementation of common core academic standards
in Kansas public schools. (KASB testified in opposition.)
School Innovation
On Friday, the Senate and House adopted a conference committee report on
HB 2319, authorizing up to 10 percent of the state’s school districts to be exempted
from most state school laws in exchange for higher outcomes standards.  The bill creates a coalition board of such
districts, with the first two chosen by the Governor and chairs of the House
and Senate Education Committees.  The
concept is to allow a limited number of districts to experiment with strategies
to improve student completion rates, with the ability to waive student
requirements that are perceived as barriers. 
(KASB testified in support.)
Teacher Issues
Two bills dealing with teacher associations or unions were passed.  HB 2022 contains the provisions passed by the House in HB 2023 which prohibit teacher paycheck deductions from being used for candidate
campaign contributions.  The bill has
been signed by the Governor.  The second
bill is HB 2221, which directs school boards to provide equal access to teacher mailboxes
and certain activities for organizations involved in teacher negotiations,
professional development or insurance.  (KASB
was neutral on both bills).
The House Commerce, Labor and Economic Development Committee made a number of amendments to HB 2027 concerning teacher negotiations recommended by KASB and the Kansas
School Superintendents Association.  It
would substantially reduce the number of items mandatorily negotiable by boards
and teachers, and make most current items permissible to negotiate.  Current contract language in these areas
would have to be renegotiated.  It also
requires bargaining units to periodically demonstrate majority
representation.  The committee leadership
decided to delay consideration of the bill until next session, and will sponsor
discussions between KASB, KSSA, the United School Administrators and the Kansas
National Education Association to seek a negotiated agreement on negotiations
changes.
(KASB testified in support of changes in the current negotiations law,
but in opposition to provisions in several bills that would eliminate the
requirement for collective bargaining with teachers by school boards.)
HB 2232, which would have required the Department of Education to provide
liability insurance for teachers, was stricken from the House calendar and
killed.  (KASB was neutral.)
School Board Advocacy
The Senate has not brought for debate HB 2141, which requires public entities, including school boards, to report
money spent to employ or contract for the services of a lobbyist, for an
association that employs a lobbyist; or an association that has an affiliated
organization that employees a lobbyist.  (KASB
supports an alternative to legislation prohibiting lobbying by public entities,
but is concerned about reporting requirements for local boards that may not
know if organizations or affiliates engage in lobbying.)
The bill was recommended by the Senate Ethics, Elections and Local Government Committee as an alternative to SB 109, which would prohibit the use of public funds for lobbying.  (KASB testified in opposition; stating that
boards should have the same ability as the Legislature and executive branch to
communicate positions and advocate for constituencies.)
School Board Elections
A number of bills that would have changed the timing and structure of
local school board and other local elections were introduced and received
hearings this session.  The only one to
make it out of committee, SB 64, which would have moved local municipal elections to November of
odd-numbered years and remained non-partisan, was stricken from calendar
without debate.
Other bills receiving consideration were SB 145, making local elections partisan, changing to November of odd-numbered
years, SB 211, making local elections partisan, changing to November of even-numbered
years, and HB 2271, making local elections partisan, changing to November of even-numbered
years, and requiring all local election to be for at-large positions, rather
than allowing local districts.  (KASB testified
in opposition to all bills changing local elections.)
Constitutional Amendments and
School Finance Litigation
Earlier in the session, the Senate passed two constitutional amendments
by the required two-third majority, but neither has received debate or a vote
in the House.
SCR 1601 would eliminate the current nominating commission for Supreme Court
judges and allow the Governor to appoint judges subject to Senate confirms.  (KASB joined in opposition testimony from the
Kansas Bar Association.)
SCR 1608 would amend Article Six of the Kansas Constitution to specify that the Legislature
determines suitable finance.  (KASB testified
in opposition, believing that educational funding should be provided a higher
standard of protection in the constitution, to provide protection for children
and communities not in majority.)
On Friday, the Senate rejected a conference committee report on SB 171 with a provision originally proposed in HB 2003 and passed by the House in its version of SB 23.  It would require all districts to
adopt a minimum local option budget of 10 percent, and to transfer that amount
to the general fund to finance a higher base state per aid pupil.  This concept, which passed the House in
previous years, does not change any funding levels but has been promoted as a
way to help the state defend education funding levels in the current school finance
litigation, and to recognize a higher level of funding than the current
base. 
The bill remains in a House-Senate Conference Committee.  (KASB testified as neutral on the original
bill, which appeared to potentially increase the base budget per pupil, but
testified in opposition to the mandatory LOB provisions alone, and suggested counting
10 percent of LOB as state funding when LOB aid is not fully equalized probably
weakens the state’s position.)
School Choice
The House defeated a motion to advance to final action SB 22, creating a corporate education tax credit program for contributions to
scholarships for low income or special education students transferring to or
starting in private schools.  (KASB testified
in opposition to the original bill, HB 2400.)
The House and Senate Education Committees both
rejected bills (SB 196, HB 2320) that would allow the State Board, Kansas Board of Regents, public and
private postsecondary education institution, cities and counties, and school
districts to “authorize” charter schools that would be exempt from most state
school laws and regulations.  (KASB testified
in opposition to both; believing they violate the Kansas Constitutional
requirement that only the State Board has general supervision of public schools
and only local elected boards can manage public schools; furthermore, there is
no evidence increasing charter schools improves educational performance.)
The House Education Committee voted against recommending HB 2263, which would provide state-funded scholarship for special education
students to attend private schools.  The
bill would allow public funding for private schools not required to serve all
students; or to follow same accountability and operating rules; and allowed to
discriminate based on disability.  The funding
would be based on special education services required in public schools, but
private schools are not required to provide those services. (KASB testified in
opposition.)
The House Education Budget Committee held a
hearing but took no action on HB 2215, which would restore the 2.5 mile non-resident bus rule to 10
miles.  (KASB testified in support.)
Firearms
On Friday, the House and Senate adopted a conference committee report on
HB 2052, concerning concealed carry in public buildings.  As passed by the House, the bill exempts
school districts from new requirements that most public buildings allow
concealed carry of handguns unless the building has specific security measures.  (KASB testified against including school
districts under new security requirements in the original Senate bill, SB 186.) The bill also authorizes local school boards to permit any employee,
who is licensed to carry a concealed handgun, to carry a concealed handgun in
any school building if the employee meets such institution’s own policy requirements
regardless of whether such building is conspicuously posted to prohibit such
weapons.  (KASB is neutral on the
employee provision because current law already allows this option for
superintendents.)
Technical Education
The Senate this week agreed to House amendments and sent to the Governor
SB 128, which gives students until December of their senior year to complete
industry recognized credentials that qualify for technical education incentive
payments.  The bill also extends the life
of the Kansas Postsecondary Education Technical Authority to 2017.  (KASB supports.)
Activities Association
The House passed HB 2197, which would amend the Kansas State High School Activities Association governing
structure.  It would establish a board of
directors for each league that is a part of the activities association.  Each school in the league would have two
directors appointed by the local board; one district employee, one non-employee.  The bill also adds four members of the
executive board of the KSHSAA appointed by the Governor, one from each of the
state’s Congressional districts.  The
bill was referred to the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee, which took no action.  (KASB is neutral.)
Immigration Issues
First the first time in several sessions, there were no hearings or
votes on bills to significantly change state policies regarding illegal
immigration, such as requiring e-verify to check citizenship or to deny public
benefits.  The House Federal and State Affairs Committee did hold a hearing on HB 2192, repealing the instate tuition benefit for undocumented aliens, but
took no action.  (KASB supports the
benefit for Kansas high school graduates working to achieve citizenship, and testified
in opposition to the repeal.)
Other
The House passed HB 2037, establishing statutory guidelines for display of historical and religious
materials.  The Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee took no action.  (KASB testified
in support.)
The Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee held hearings but took no action on SB 10, which limits fees that can be
charged for copies of public records and prohibits charging for staff time;
also required minutes be kept of open meetings. 
(KASB testified in opposition.)
The Senate Ethics, Elections and Local Government Committee held a hearing on SB 150, which would prohibit certain standards from public bidding
specifications.  (KASB testified in
opposition.)
The House Pensions and Benefits Committee will
hold an informational hearing on HB 2308, ending current working after retirement provisions, on May 8, but is
not expected to take action on the bill.