Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Legislative Update - Week of April 14th

HB 381, Ohio Research Scholars Appropriation Bill

The Senate Finance Committee had no witnesses signed in to testify on Tuesday afternoon on HB 381, a bill to legislatively permit Ohio’s independent colleges to participate in the Ohio Research Scholars Program.

The program, a joint effort between OBR and the Dept. of Development, intends to attract and retain scientists from outside of Ohio and allure current college students to become future scientists in the state. Colleges can compete for grants to build new and/or develop programs within the STEM fields. Each school may receive up to $50 million. More information and a list of important dates may be found

The bill was voted out of committee unanimously and will be sent to the Senate floor for full consideration within the next two weeks.

HB 536, Healthy Families Act

The Ohioans for Healthy Families Coalition, comprised of over 200 groups including AARP, Nurses Association, NAACP, and metropolitan area city councils from across the state got the hearing they requested, though they weren’t informed of the hearing until 24 hours prior. With little notice, the room was filled, the witnesses were prepped and committee members were ready to listen and had questions drafted.

First to testify were the proponents. Brian Dunn, campaign manager for the Coalition, explained to committee members the ramifications of not passing this initiative. His
testimony included reference to the Harvard Business Review analysis that "offering paid sick days would save costs incurred when ill employees go to work.” He also ensured that “mom and pop shops” would not be adversely affected by this proposal, and it wouldn’t burden companies that currently offer equivalent paid sick days to employees. In addition, he noted that new employees hired within a 90-day start would not be eligible for the paid days off.

Fred Mills representing the Ohioans to Protect Jobs coalition, including such groups as the Ohio Retail Merchants, Ohio Chamber of Commerce, and National Federation of Independent Business, offered their opposition. He noted in his
testimony that costs incurred from passing the proposal will drive out employers from the state, leaving Ohio with more unemployment and blight. Mr. Mills also stated that the initiative will stifle job creation and expansion, noting that small businesses that are currently unaffected will be when they grow larger than 25 employees. In addition, the opponents declared that litigation is a likely possibility if enacted, and “litigation does not create jobs – except for lawyers.”

Because the initiative has become a very partisan issue, it will not likely receive another hearing, which would push the proponents to begin collecting a new set of petition signatures. If the General Assembly does not enact the initiative by the listed deadline of May 9th, the Ohioans for Healthy Families must obtain another 120,683 signatures to place it on the ballot.

AICUO will continue to monitor its movement or lack thereof. We will also be in contact with our members to receive thoughts for level of participation by our association.

HB 347, Praxis III Bill Revisited

Tuesday, the House Education Committee accepted a sub bill version of HB 347 introduced by Chairwoman Arlene Setzer (R – Vandalia) last October. The initially introduced version seeks to replace Praxis III, the assessment test used to award professional, 5-year teaching licenses to entry-year teachers with a “summative assessment” whose content is yet to be determined. The new assessment could be more or less complicated and burdensome than Praxis III. The bill’s interested parties have met only a handful of times to discuss other mechanisms for licensure revisions.

The adopted substitute pushes back the effective date for the elimination of Praxis III from July 2008 to July 2010. On or after that date, eligibility for a professional license must be based on a teacher's rating on the "summative assessment" approved by the State Board of Education and included as part of the teacher's "induction program." The summative assessment must require demonstrated relevance to the Ohio Standards for the Teaching Profession (OSTP).

The substitute requires the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) to convene a committee of staff persons, educators, administrators and others with an interest in educator preparation to develop standards for an induction program. The requirements include mentoring, multiple formative assessments by more than one individual, use of OSTP and the application of the state academic content standards as performance measures, among other things. Any summative assessment after July 2010 must be approved by the State Board of Education.

Full implementation would begin with the 2010-2011 school years. ODE, during the 2009-2010 school year, would be required to select a sample of schools or districts to implement all components of the standardized induction program on a trial basis. The substitute also adds a new provision requiring ODE to continuously evaluate the effectiveness of induction programs and permits the department to contract with an independent entity to conduct the evaluations.

Additionally, the substitute version requires the department, in collaboration with the Chancellor of the Board of Regents, to convene a committee representing public and private teacher preparation programs and practicing teachers from all grade levels to develop a pre-service assessment system with standardized protocols and training for pre-service coursework and field experience.

HB 350, Student Poll Worker Bill in Senate Committee

The legislation that would permit college students to work as poll workers in the counties in which they attend school received its sponsor testimony in the Senate State and Local Government and Veteran’s Affairs Committee.
Rep. Larry Wolpert stated within his testimony that the legislation will help to combat a decrease in available poll workers on election days. In addition, it will help get the younger generation involved in civic policy.

The bill is expected to receive another hearing within the next couple of weeks.

Dustin A. Holfinger