04 May 2016

Committee action, May 4: HB 892, HB 543, HB 971, HB 805

HB 892 by Rep. Ted James would change existing tenure laws for teachers. He told the House Education Committee he had not reached consensus on the bill and asked for voluntary deferral, getting it.

HB 543 by Rep. Frank Hoffman would dilute accountability standards for teachers. He said the value-added mechanism was not working as intended, and the bill would allow voluntary use of it. But he asked for a voluntary deferral, saying more negotiation with others to present some kind of change was needed, and this was granted.

HB 971 by Rep. Steve Carter would restrict the ability of university sports teams to play away from home. He said he thought it the most controversial he ever had brought, but said a drafting error might have contributed to that. He offered an amendment to clear that up, which was accepted that applied the measure only to money not self-generated, not from students. The 375-mile limit would not apply to football or basketball.

He said the bill was designed to create better priorities in education, pointing out that nearly $50 million from state money and student fees went into funding athletic programs, about half and half. The majority of students participating in sports that travel are from out of state, some of which come from out of the country, he said. Limiting travel could reapportion dollars on other education priorities, he argued. He then admitted the bill more was to make a point than anything else.

After clarifying questions, Carter said if someone wanted to defer involuntarily, he would not object, or defer it, or bring it to a vote. Rep. Stephanie Hilferty wondered whether standards already existed to make travel as parsimonious as possible, which Carter said he didn’t know. He then asked for voluntary deferral.

HB 805 by Rep. Chris Broadwater would allow a fee increase to local governments to implement 911 technology. He told the Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection, and International Affairs Committee that more money for upgrades could be necessary in certain districts and they should have the option to exceed the fees now charged.

Sen. Barrow Peacock offered an amendment to create an advisory board of government and industry representatives to coordinate and provide information. Broadwater did not object. The bill was reported favorably.

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