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Legislative Update – Appropriations Committees Act on Hundreds of Bills

Monday, September 2, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Andrea Bennett

The Senate and Assembly Appropriations Committees met today to consider hundreds of bills on their Suspense Files. The Suspense File is where bills tagged with significant costs to the state are placed before Committee and house leadership meet and decide which bills will move off the File and which will be held in committee.  Any legislation that failed to move out of the Appropriation Committees today is effectively dead for the year. 

A number of the key education bills still moving are returning proposals that were previously vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown. This emerging theme could arise from a feeling among members that they’ll have a better chance at success under Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration, especially in his first legislative session as Governor. Below we have highlighted a number of significant K-12 bills that passed out of their respective Appropriations Committees today and are now headed to the Senate and Assembly Floors for a vote. We have also created a full summary of today’s actions on all the K-12 bills we are tracking, sorted by subject area.

School start time. Senator Anthony Portantino’s (D – La Cañada Flintridge) proposal to prohibit middle schools and high schools from starting school before 8:00 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., respectively, looks once again headed to the Governor’s desk.  While Portantino’s previous effort was vetoed by then-Governor Brown, who cited concerns over local control, SB 328 could have better luck under the new administration. Governor Gavin Newsom made remarks on the campaign trail that he understands the science behind the proposal and could support a statewide requirement that schools start later.

Charter school reform package. Our recent update outlined the anticipated amendments to AB 1505 (O’Donnell), the main charter school reform bill. AB 1507 (Smith) is  the “other” major charter school reform bill in the package being considered by the Legislature this year. This bill eliminates the ability of a charter school to locate outside the boundaries of the authorizing school district, including non-classroom-based charter schools. Schools currently located outside of the authorizing district would have to either move into compliance, or receive an authorization from the district where they are located upon their renewal. 

The bill passed with amendments to treat charter schools (including non-classroom-based charter schools) that close and then reopen (in compliance with the new law) as a continuing school. The amendments also clarify exemptions for charter schools located on tribal land and some resource centers meeting certain criteria. According to the author, Senator Portantino also explicitly exempted a charter school located within his Senate District.

Another bill in the reform package, AB 967 (Smith) is intended to create parity with traditional schools within the state’s accountability system, by requiring a charter school to submit its LCAP to its district authorizer for review and approval. The bill applies various LCAP requirements that currently apply to school districts and county offices of education to charter schools.

Statute-of-limitation on sexual abuse at schools. AB 218 (Gonzalez) would extend the statute of limitations for the commencement of actions for childhood sexual assault to 40 years of age or five years from discovery of the injury against an employer, including school districts, where there has been a claim against an employee. The bill would also provide triple damages for a coverup of an assault. Of particular concern for school districts has been that the bill would change the standard of proof for potential liability. AB 218 would change the standard from on the requires an employer knew of the unlawful conduct andfailed to implement reasonable safeguards to prevent the abuse, to instead only require the employer meet one of those two criteria in order for an action to be commenced. The bill passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee today with amendments to limit the availability of triple damages to cases where there was a proven cover-up and if not prohibited by another law.  A similar bill was vetoed by Governor Brown last year.

Paid maternity leave for school employees. AB 500 (Gonzalez) would require school districts and charter schools to provide at least six weeks of full pay for pregnancy-related leave of absences taken by certificated and classified employees. Under current law, employees are entitled to up to five months of leave with differential pay, once their sick and vacation leave has been exhausted. The fact that the author of bill is also the Chair of the Assembly Appropriations Committee may partly explain why the bill passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee despite a number of school agencies and statewide organizations expressing concerns over the cost pressure this could place on school districts. Governor Brown vetoed a similar proposal in 2017, arguing that leave decisions beyond the provision of differential pay are best resolved through the local collective bargaining process.

Teacher assignment monitoring. AB 1219 (Jones-Sawyer) would require that the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) and the California Department of Education (CDE) engage in a data-sharing agreement to annually monitor teacher misassignments and classroom vacancies. The bill gives local educational agencies 60 days to respond to an initial report of a misassignment or vacancy with documentation that demonstrates the position is legally authorized through use of a local assignment option. Monitoring authorities would have 90 days from the initial report to make a final determination on identified misassignments and vacancies, and the Commission would hold the final authority to make determinations on misassignments. Data generated by the first year of the new monitoring system would be nonconsequential for the 2019-20 school year, and beginning in 2020-21 the data generated will be publicly available.  

K-14 school facilities bond.The bill to place a $13 billion K-14 school facilities on the March 2020 ballot – followed by a 2022 initiative – has been parked in the Senate Rules Committee following its passage from the Appropriations Committee. Governor Newsom’s Department of Finance is calling for a virtual rewrite of the School Facilities Program, which has raised significant concerns among the author and educational stakeholders. AB 48 (O’Donnell) appears to be on ice until a deal is hammered out. In the meantime, the Senate’s higher education bond measure – SB 14 by Senator Steven Glazer – has been sent to the Assembly Rules Committee pending further discussions.

LCFF base grant increases. Assembly Member Al Muratsuchi (D – Torrance) has been an enthusiastic advocate of increasing LCFF base grant amounts. This year’s effort, AB 39, expresses the Legislature’s intent to raise base funding amounts to the nations average in 2020-21. While the bill was passed out of Appropriations today, there is no funding in the state budget to pay for an increase in base grant amounts and the bill will likely not move further this year. Other efforts to increase K-12 school funding, however, are just beginning to ramp up.

Grade 11 assessment alternatives. Similar to his AB 1951 from last year, AB 751 by Assembly Member Patrick O’Donnell (D – Long Beach) would allow districts to choose to administer a nationally recognized high school assessment, like the SAT or ACT, that has been approved by the Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI), in lieu of the grade 11 Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment. AB 1951 reached the Governor’s desk last year but was ultimately vetoed by Governor Brown. While most LEAs would appreciate the increased flexibility, the bill could face an even tougher road to the Governor’s signature this time around, in the wake of the Varsity Blues Cheating Scandal and growing questions in California around the applicability of the SAT and ACT for the purpose of college admissions. 

Medical exemptions from Immunizations. Despite multiple disruptions during the hearing by opponents of the bill, which resulted in Committee Chair Lorena Gonzalez having to call for multiple recesses, SB 276 (Pan) is out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee and on its way to a vote on the Assembly Floor. The bill is a follow up to Senator Pan’s SB 277 (2016), which required a student to be vaccinated before enrolling in school, and is in response to reports of medical exemptions being granted by doctors that may not be medically justified. SB 276 would increase state oversight of medical exemptions for mandatory vaccinations required for school attendance, including requiring the California Department of Public Health to develop a standardized electronic medical exemption certification form and to review medical exemptions from schools or physicians that meet specified criteria.

What’s Next?

The Legislature has two weeks to pass and send to the Governor any bills on their floors before they adjourn for their Interim Recess. Any bill that has not been sent to the Governor’s desk by September 13 must wait until January 2020 to be revived. We will provide another update following the end of the legislative session as well. Until then, please let us know if you have any questions or if we can provide any additional information.

Best,

Caitlin

Caitlin Jung

Legislative Counsel

Capitol Advisors Group

925 L Street, Suite 1200

Sacramento, CA 95814

916-557-9745 office

www.capitoladvisors.org