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Last Updated: 10/31/2017
 

 Articles of Interest - Michigan

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starFour-Day School Week Movesstar
Today the House, on a bipartisan 61-49 vote, passed SB 365, which would remove the requirement that schools provide a minimum of 180 days of pupil instruction, or forfeit a percentage of their State aid allocation; and delete the provision that at least 75 percent of a district’s membership must be in attendance on any day of pupil instruction, or the district will forfeit a percentage of its State aid.

 starElection Consolidation Issue Coming Up - Taking Aim at School District Electionsstar
The House is poised to take up election consolidation legislation, and there are signs that it could move on a bipartisan basis this time around.

 starGranholm Hoping to Create 'School Stabilization Fund'star
Today, Gov. Jennifer GRANHOLM reiterated her position on budget-related issues. She stated her plan for a School Stabilization Fund (SSF) would be the best use of what ever is left over from the $655 million (or maybe more) in federal economic slowdown relief funds after immediate budgetary needs are addressed.

  starHouse passes $3.95 Billion Budget for Department of Human Servicesstar
The Department of Human Services budget bill cleared the House Appropriations Committee today with minimal discussion. Other than two technical cleanup amendments there were no amendments offered, something veteran budget observers didn’t recall happening, if at all, in many, many years.

starGranholm Signs New Lawsstar

Laws allow Long-term Care Insurance Option for Public School Employees and Requiring New Teachers to Pass CPR and First Aid Course for Certification (Public Acts 17and 18 of 2003)

starWatkins Visits Rose Garden in NCLB Celebrationstar
State Superintendent Tom Watkins participated in a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House with about 25 other state superintendents today, celebrating the progress of the federal No Child Left Behind legislation.

 

Articles from MIRS, June 10, 2003

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Four-Day School Week Moves
MIRS, June 10, 2003

 
Today the House, on a bipartisan 61-49 vote, passed SB 365, which would remove the requirement that schools provide a minimum of 180 days of pupil instruction, or forfeit a percentage of their State aid allocation; and delete the provision that at least 75 percent of a district’s membership must be in attendance on any day of pupil instruction, or the district will forfeit a percentage of its State aid.

Districts still would have to provide a minimum number of 1,098 hours of pupil instruction.

Also, the bill would permit the first 15 instructional hours lost due to circumstances out of control of a district, such as severe storms, fires, epidemics, or health conditions, to be counted toward the 1,098-hour requirement. This would replace the current two “snow days” for which the Act provides.

Under the bill, each school district individually would determine the number of days necessary to complete a school year, providing at least 1,098 hours of pupil instruction. This would allow school districts to operate on a four-day school week if they so chose. There could be substantial savings to a school district that completed its school year in less than 180 days.
 

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Election Consolidation Issue Coming Up - Taking Aim at School District Elections
MIRS, June 10, 2003

 
The House is poised to take up election consolidation legislation, and there are signs that it could move on a bipartisan basis this time around.

A press conference has been scheduled for Wednesday morning where an election consolidation package will be announced by Secretary of State Terri Lynn LAND, Senate Majority Floor Leader Bev. HAMMERSTROM (R-Temperance) and Chairman of the House Local Government & Urban Policy Committee Chris WARD (R-Brighton).

Election consolidation would mean allowing elections to be held only on regular preset dates throughout the year, and taking the responsibility for conducting school district elections away from schools officials and giving it to local governmental clerks.

A major argument for election consolidation has been that it would do away with so-called stealth elections that school districts allegedly call for at times when voters are less likely to be aware that an election is taking place, or the practice of repeatedly going back to the voters with the same request until it is passed.

Other arguments for election consolidation include assertions that it would save money and increase voter turnout. However, opponents of the idea claim it would actually result in a more costly election process and erode local control.

MIRS has learned that the package is expected to be brought up next week in the House Local Government & Urban Policy Committee, and fast-tracked with the objective of having it adopted by the full House and sent to the Senate before the summer recess.

Hammerstrom introduced election consolidation legislation last session, which was passed by the Senate but stalled in the House when the slimmer Republican majority failed to reach agreement on the issue. Sources tell MIRS the legislation to be unveiled Wednesday will be very similar to that legislation.

That legislation would have done the following:

- Remove from school districts the power to administer and operate elections, and require that school elections be conducted by local units of government.

- Require school elections and local elections generally to be held in November of an odd-numbered year, unless a school district chooses to hold its regular election in May of an odd-numbered year; and restrict all elections to four specified dates per year (except for a special election called by the Governor or the Legislature).

- Allow a school district to use general operating funds to reimburse local units for school election costs.

- Require a school district and an intermediate school district (ISD) to include an estimate of the cost of repaying bonds, when submitting a bond question to the electors.

- Place in the Michigan Election Law provisions for calling, administering, and canvassing school elections, and require a "school district election coordinator" for a school district to conduct all regular and special school elections.

However, this time around, its expected that two bills from the package will be sponsored by Democratic Reps. Ruth Ann JAMNICK (D-Ypsilanti) and Rich BROWN (D-Bessemer).

Today, Gov. Jennifer GRANHOLM fielded questions from the Capitol press corps on a variety of topics, and the first question asked was her position on election consolidation.

“We haven’t taken a public position on that,” Granholm said.

Later when she was pressed on the subject and asked if she’s sitting on the fence, she simply acknowledged that she is.

“I’m sitting on the fence,” the Governor responded.

However, House Democratic Leader Dianne BYRUM (D-Onondaga) appeared to be open to the possibility of bipartisan support for the legislation, if it were carefully crafted.

“You know, this didn’t pass last year due to controversy on both sides of the aisle,” Byrum said. “In fact, the package last year probably would have passed if it had had the (optional) fifth election date, or the so-called floater date.”

Al SHORT, Director of Government Affairs for the Michigan Education Association (MEA), said his group opposes election consolidation. However, if passage of such legislation were inevitable, the MEA would prefer that there be an optional fifth (floater or wild card) election date.

“The schools are required to go to the voters sometimes,” Short said. “But, I’m not aware of even one election law change being requested by the schools. Instead, what we have here is the Clerk’s Association deciding they want to come in and run the school elections instead of the schools.”

Short said he believes the election consolidation issue is unique, because it runs counter to the usual practice in state government, which is that affected groups ask for a change in the law, rather than an outside group.

Short also said that the whole idea of election consolidation is also problematic because school districts are not contiguous with county and township boundaries.

“For instance, there are two different school districts in the precinct I vote in,” Short said.

When told that Byrum had indicated the potential for a compromise may exist, Short said the MEA would prefer election consolidation legislation that includes the fifth election date to legislation that includes just four dates.

“In the Legislature it’s all about compromise,” Short said. “If the votes are there for this, we’d rather it have the fifth, so-called wild card date. But we don’t think the legislation is needed in the first place.”

Nancy STANLEY, associate executive director of the Michigan Association of School Administrators (MASA) told MIRS today that MASA’s opposition to election consolidation has not changed. MASA and other groups from within the state's education community oppose election consolidation, arguing that it would strip away local control.

Last year when the election consolidation issue was taken up some polling in individual districts indicated that voters like the idea on first blush. However, Ed SARPOLUS, vice president of Lansing-based polling firm EPIC/MRA, said he believes voters are generally ambivalent on the issue.

Sarpolus spoke to MIRS via telephone from Washington, D.C. where he did not have access to past polling data.

“As I recall, our past surveys showed that voters really didn’t care about that issue one way or the other,” Sarpolus said. “The exception was voters who were strongly anti-tax. They strongly favor election consideration.”

Rep. John PAPPAGEORGE (R-Troy) told MIRS today that he expects to offer an alternative election reform package, as he did last session.

The Pappageorge version last session featured six election days every two years. These election days would consist of two primaries, two general elections and two all-encompassing "Education Day" elections.

The primaries and general elections would be broken down by level of office. One primary and one general election would be allowed every two years for offices from State Representative on up to President or Governor. The other primary election would be for candidates running for county office in lower offices.

Supreme Court races would be on the presidential or gubernatorial ballot. All other judgeships would be on the county commissioner and below ballot.

The "Education Day" election would be in June of each year and include all education offices, including board of university regents, State Board of Education, and posts on down to local school board elections.

Bond issues, referendums, millage, and ballot initiatives for all levels of government would have to be placed on one of these six ballots.

Under the Pappageorge substitute, local governmental clerks would be responsible for the August and November elections, while local school boards would be responsible for the June education elections, however, they could opt to have the local clerk run the election.

The Pappageorge version would require a Constitutional amendment to allow local officials to hold their elections in odd-numbered years. This means the measure would not become law without approval of the voters through a statewide ballot proposal.
 

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Granholm Hoping to Create 'School Stabilization Fund'
MIRS, June 10, 2003

 

Today, Gov. Jennifer GRANHOLM reiterated her position on budget-related issues. She stated her plan for a School Stabilization Fund (SSF) would be the best use of what ever is left over from the $655 million (or maybe more) in federal economic slowdown relief funds after immediate budgetary needs are addressed.

Republicans want any remaining dollars placed into the state’s Budget Stabilization (Rainy Day) Fund (BSF). It fact, reportedly, the House Republican caucus has voted to make getting this “discretionary” portion of the federal relief dollars into the BSF a top priority.

In addition, Republicans favor using tobacco settlement dollars to keep the Merit Scholarship program going at full speed.

Granholm had targeted the tobacco settlement dollars for health care in the budget. When the Republican-controlled Legislature switched the funding over for the Merit Scholarship program, it increased the deficit on the health care portion of the budget. Under this scenario, the health care deficit will likely be filled by use of some of the federal relief funds.

Granholm, flanked by House Democratic Leader Dianne BYRUM (D-Onondaga) and Lt. Gov. John CHERRY, fielded questions from the Capitol Press Corps this afternoon after meeting with the House Democratic caucus. But first, the Governor made a statement.

“It is very important that the state be disciplined,” Granholm said. “The money we’re receiving from the federal government is to help us absorb the [economic] downturn. It is not to fund ongoing programs. If we’re not disciplined, we’ll end up in the same position next year as we are this year.”

Granholm’s message appeared to be in reference to the GOP’s insistence on using tobacco settlement dollars to keep the Merit program going.

In Granholm’s budget, she proposed slicing the scholarship award to $500, from its traditional level of $2,500. However, last week, House Democrats proposed keeping the $2,500 award level by tapping into that $655 million relief funds but stretching payments out over four years, rather than two.

“When I ask about priorities, and have to choose between health care and a scholarship program that isn’t based on need, the priority is health care,” Granholm said.

In addition, Granholm touted her SSF idea.

“Both Democrats and Republicans say their number one priority is education,” Granholm said.

She also said the SSF should help the state keep a good bond rating.
 

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MI House passes $3.95 Billion Budget for Department of Human Services
MIRS, June 10, 2003

 

The Department of Human Services budget bill cleared the House Appropriations Committee today with minimal discussion. Other than two technical cleanup amendments there were no amendments offered, something veteran budget observers didn’t recall happening, if at all, in many, many years.

The Committee unanimously adopted an overall $3.95 billion 2004 budget that is about $4.5 million above the administration’s recommendation and the Senate-passed version of SB 283. The General Fund portion is slightly below the Governor’s recommendation and the Senate version but $12.74 million (1.1 percent) below the current year.

FIA Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Jerry KOOIMAN (R-Grand Rapids) explained the major difference between the House and Senate budget is in the area of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) funding.

The administration proposed taking $25.4 million of TANF money to help fund a new Enhanced Child Care Fund. The House reduced TANF money by $9.8 million but authorized an additional $4.5 million to fund a higher Family Independence Program caseload.

The House allocated $33.3 million for Enhanced Child Care Fund Reimbursement for in-home services for children that is $700,000 above the Senate version but $16.7 million below what the administration proposed.

As in many of the budgets, the House is adding $100 points of difference with the Senate in general fund line items.

Included in the budget is a $512,000 increase for the Marriage Initiative program; a $25,000 increase for the Fatherhood program, both recommended for elimination by the administration, and an increase in the child clothing allowance from $25 to $50 per child.

The House reduced funding for the Teen Parenting Counseling program by 10 percent compared to the Senate’s 5 percent reduction and recommended elimination by the administration.

In the area of Day Care Services, the House reduced the budget by $4.4 million to no longer allow exceptions to the 100 hours of care in a two week period; an increase of $35 million increase to cover caseload adjustments; and a 10 percent reduction in the Before-and After-School Program which the administration had recommended eliminating.

The differences in House and Senate versions will now be worked out in a joint committee.
 

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Granholm Signs New Laws Allowing Long-term Care Insurance Option for Public School Employees and Requiring New Teachers to Pass CPR and First Aid Course for Certification
MIRS, June 10, 2003

 

Gov. Jennifer GRANHOLM signed into law two acts affecting public schools: Public Acts 17and 18 of 2003.

Public Act 17 is HB 4285, sponsored by Rep. Stephen EHARDT (R-Lexington), which allows public school employees to set aside money for long-term care insurance.

Public Act 18 is HB 4038, sponsored by Rep. Sal ROCCA (R-Sterling Heights). The measure would require new teachers to pass a CPR and first aid course before becoming certified starting July 1, 2004.

Under the bill, new teachers would have to hold valid certification from the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, or a comparable Department of Education-approved organization.

 

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Watkins Visits Rose Garden in NCLB Celebration
MIRS, June 10, 2003

State Superintendent Tom WATKINS participated in a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House with about 25 other state superintendents today, celebrating the progress of the federal No Child Left Behind legislation.

The ceremony, attended by President George W. BUSH and Education Secretary Rod PAIGE, was designed to recognize the efforts of all 50 states in implementing the No Child Left Behind standards into their respective education accountability systems.

“It was a positive experience,” Watkins said. “No matter what you think of the law and it’s issues — and there are issues with the law — the moral imperative that we leave no child behind is worthy of celebration.”
 

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