ICYMI, Political News

NOT RUNNING

This week two more legislators joined the group not running for reelection in 2016. Sen. Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenburg) announced Thursday he is retiring after the 2016 legislative session. Sen. Rucho is in his 9th term in the General Assembly, he has been the lead legislator on tax reform as Co-Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and is Chairman of the Senate Redistricting Committee.

Rep. Rick Catlin (R-New Hanover) announced Tuesday he will not seek reelection in 2016. Rep. Catlin is in his 2nd term in the House, he is Chairman of the House Committee on Environment and Vice-Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Agriculture and Natural and Economic Resources.

COMMITTEE ANNOUNCED

The November meeting of the Joint Legislative Commission on Government Operations and its members have been announced. The Committee will meet on November 18, 2015 to hear presentations from the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Public Safety & Office of State Budget and Management, the Winston-Salem/Forsyth School System, the UNC Board of Governors, and the Office of State Human Resources. The committee will be chaired by House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) and Senate President Pro Temp Phil Berger (R-Guilford).

SIGNED

Last Friday, Gov. McCrory allowed two bills to become law without his signature. Gov. McCrory released a press release explaining his reasoning for allowing the legislation to become law without his signature. The two bills becoming law without the Governor’s signature are S313, Industrial Hemp, and S670, Term Limits for BOG Members. Gov. McCrory explains S313 was well intentioned but after speaking with Agricultural Commissioner Steve Troxler “there are legitimate concerns.” Regarding S670, Gov. McCrory states that he has “concerns with legislation claiming to provide transparency being passed in the dead of night and waning days of session.”

Also on Friday, the Governor signed the following nine bills into law:

H8, Court of Appeals Election Modifications  Creates open judicial elections with party designations for the Court of Appeals. This bill became effective when it was signed into law on Friday, and will apply to elections held on or after Friday’s date.

H126, Mortgage Origination Support Registration  Authorizes the Office of the Commissioner of Banks to implement a registration system for persons engaged exclusively in the processing or underwriting of residential mortgage loans and not engaged in the mortgage business. The bill is currently effective an applies to all applications for registration as a mortgage origination support registrant filed on or after November 1.

H215, Procedure for Waiver of Jury Trial  Establishes procedure for waiver of the right to a jury trial in criminal cases in superior court. The bill is currently effective and applies to defendants waiving their right to trial by jury on or after October 1, 2015.

H327, EMS Personnel Technical Changes  Makes technical and conforming changes to the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) regulations to reflect new national standards for emergency medical personnel. This bill became effective when it was signed into law on Friday and requires the NC Medical Care Commission to amend its applicable rules no later than December 31, 2015.

H558, Reserve & Nat. Guard/Military Affairs Comm.  Adds two members to the NC Military Affairs Commission from the NC National Guard and reserve component of the US Armed Forces. This bill became effective on Friday when it was signed into law.

H709, NCNG Tuition Assistance Benefit Amendment  Adds members of the NC National Guard who are students enrolled in a program granting a graduate certificate the list of students eligible for the NC National Guard Tuition Assistance Beneft. This bill became effective on Friday when it was signed into law.

S37, Waive Tuition/Fallen Officer was Guardian  Provides that tuition waiver for survivors of law enforcement officers, firefighters, or rescue squad workers and certain others also applies to children whose legal guardians or legal custodians are law enforcement officers, firefighters, or rescue squad workers. This bill is currently effective and applies to the 2016 spring academic semester and each subsequent semester.

S524, Grad Requirements/Sports Pilot  Enhances the rigor of instruction of the founding principles and authorizes the department of public instruction to use $300,000 to conduct a pilot program on integrated community‑based adapted sports programs for students with disabilities. The addition of constitutional limitations on government power to tax and spend and prompt payment of public debt, strong defense and supremacy of civil authority over military, and peace commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none to the educational requirements for high school applies to students entering the ninth grade in the 2016‑2017 school year and is currently effective.

S698, Legacy Medicaid Care Facility/CON Exempt  Provides certain exemptions under the certificate of need law (CON). Section 4 of the bill repeals Article 1E of Chapter 90 of the General Statutes and Article 9A of Chapter 131E of the General Statutes, effective January 1, 2018. The remainder of the bill became effective on Friday when it was signed into law.

NC Board of Education Meeting

On Wednesday and Thursday the NC State Board of Education met. The Board discussed the following issues:

  • policy surrounding the evaluation of charter school educators,
  • special provisions from the appropriations bill and SB 524,
  • the After-School Program Quality Improvement Grant Program,
  • the appointment of a member to the Charter School Advisory Board,
  • virtual charter school pilot,
  • Standards Review Process and proof of concept,
  • Securing the security of student records, and
  • Membership for the Driver Education Advisory Committee.

Meeting Agenda and all meeting documents may be found here.

Spotlight on Education

Education reform and funding is always a focus of the NC General Assembly.

H97, Appropriations Act of 2015 

K-12

  • Provides an additional $14 million to the opportunity scholarship program in FY2.
  • Increases the funds for Special Education scholarships by 6%, which will increase scholarship grants up to $4,000 per semester for eligible students.
  • Increases the starting teacher salary from $33,000 to $35,000.
  • Fully funds teacher assistants (TAs) and requires that those monies be used only for TAs.
  • Fully funds driver education. Includes provisions for comprehensive data collection and a study of how to improve the program.
  • Reduces class size in first grade to a 1:16 teacher-student ratio in 2016.
  • Funds the School Connectivity Initiative, which will bring broadband and WiFi to all public schools in the state.
  • Increases funding for textbooks and digital learning resources.
  • Establishes a new definition for low-performing schools and school districts. Mandates the implementation of improvement plans.
  • Allows the State Board of Education to consolidate county school districts that share a border.

Community Colleges

  • Increases tuition in the 2016 spring semester by $4.00/credit hour.
  • Funds in-state tuition for veterans.
  • Mandates the Community College System and the State Board of Education to collaborate on a program to deliver mandatory college developmental math and English classes for students in their high school senior year who do not meet specific readiness criteria.

Universities

  • Funds in-state tuition for all veterans.
  • Sets aside $2 million for the Western Governor’s University. The University will receive the $2 million for a new campus after they raise $5 million.
  • Requires the Community College and UNC Systems to collaborate in a study to establish a deferred admission program that will divert academically at-risk students into the community college system. Upon completion of an associate’s degree, the student receives guaranteed acceptance into a UNC System school.

H334, Charter School & Other Educational Law Changes 

Establishes the NC Office of Charter Schools. The bill shifts control of charter schools away from the NC Department of Public Instruction (DPI) by requiring the newly formed Office of Charter Schools to report to the NC State Board of Education. It also removes the requirement that the head of the charter office be a member of DPI’s staff. Instead, the Office’s executive director is appointed by the State Board of Education. The bill also requires only charters that have elected to participate in the NC Retirement System to maintain and reserve at least $50,000 in funds for the purpose of ensuring payment of expenses related to closure proceedings in the event of a voluntary or involuntary dissolution of the charter school. Prior law required all charters to maintain this funding.

H13, Amend School Health Assessment Requirement 

Requires children presented for admission into the public schools for the first time to submit proof of a health assessment and requires the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Public Instruction to report to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services and to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee on or before December 1, 2015.

H113, Protect our Students Act 

Increases the criminal penalty for the commission of certain sex offenses committed against a student by a person who is school personnel and establishes a procedure for institutions of higher education to obtain a list of students and employees at the institution who are registered as sex offenders.

H264, Community Colleges 403(b) Plan-AB 

Allows Community Colleges to participate in the 403(B) supplemental retirement plan.

H358, School Performance Grade Scale 

Extends the use of the fifteen-point scale for assignment of school performance grades for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years.

S97, State Advisory Council on Indian Education 

Modifies the membership requirements of the State Advisory Council of Indian Education.

S315, School Playgrounds Available to Public 

Authorizes local boards of education to make outdoor school property available to the public for recreational purposes.

S333, Teacher Transition Data 

Requires the State Board of Education to include specific data in its annual report on the teaching profession such as:

  • The number of teachers who left the profession without remaining in the field of education and the reasons for teachers leaving the profession.
  • The number of teachers who left their employment to teach in other states.
  • The number of teachers who left their employment to work in another school in North Carolina, including nonpublic schools and charter schools.
  • The number of teachers who left a classroom position for another type of educational position.
  • The number of teachers who left employment in hard‑to‑staff schools. A hard‑to‑staff school shall be any school identified as low‑performing, as provided in G.S. 115C‑105.37.
  • The number of teachers who left employment in hard‑to‑staff subject areas.

S400, School Access for Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts 

Directs local boards of education to give priority access and encourages charter and regional schools to facilitate access to any youth group listed in Title 36 of the US Code as a patriotic society such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, to encourage schools to facilitate access for students to participate in activities provided by these groups at times other than instructional time during the school day for the purposes of encouraging civic education.

S597, Repeal References to ABCs 

Makes changes to the NC General States repealing references to the ABC’s Program.

Legislation to Watch For in 2016

K-12

  • H29, Technical Changes to Courses of Study Statute
  • H35, Education Innovation Task Force
  • H138, Arts Education Requirement
  • H162, Sudden Cardiac Arrest Education/Students
  • H164, School Calendar Flexibility
  • H216, Great Leaders for Great Schools/Study
  • H238, Duty-Free Time/Lunch for Teachers
  • H248, Eliminate NC Final Exam
  • H474, Healthy Out-of-School Recognition Program
  • H539, Charter School Funding
  • H559, Testing Feedback for Students/Teachers
  • H561, School System Auth. Re: Legal Proceedings
  • H581, Computer Coding Course Elective
  • H632=S534, Study Student Online Data Privacy
  • H660, Transition to Personalized Digital Learning
  • H661, Teacher Recruitment and Scholarships,
  • H687, Public Schools/Testing Schedule
  • H673, Modify Read to Achieve
  • H687, Public Schools/Testing Schedule
  • H803, School Performance Scores
  • H902, Transforming Principal Preparation
  • S95, Performance-Based RIF/School Policy
  • S176=H181, Charter School Grade Level Expansion
  • S211, Damages for Late Payment of Monies/Charters
  • S330, Changer Orders on School Construction Projects
  • S456, Charter School Modifications

Community Colleges

  • H754, Community College Remediation Pilot Project
  • H860, Limit Soldiers’ CC Tuition

Universities

  • H657, Study UNC-Fixed Tuition
  • H884=H323, Reinstate Setoff Debt Collection/UNC Health
  • S105, Include No. Veterans Employed/Annual Report
  • S536, Students Know Before You Go