Week 10: 3/15-3/18/2022
Updated: Mar 22, 2022
Crossover for money bills was Friday, March 18 so we are officially in the second half of the session. After many hours of committee work, twelve education bills made the crossover deadline. As a reminder, even if a bill did not make the deadline, there is always the chance that provisions of a bill will be added to a bill under active consideration. We will continue to closely follow committee discussions and floor activity.
Please note that many of the bills highlighted here were discussed in detail within the mid-session legislative report issued on 3/15/22 and accessible here: Education Legislative Report. Any bills that have either changed since the report was issued or were new last week are discussed in greater detail below.
The following House bills made the crossover deadlines:
H.483 (now Sections 2 and 3 in H.703, please see below)
H.572 - An act relating to the retirement allowance for interim educators
H.703 - An act relating to promoting workforce development
H.716 - An act relating to miscellaneous changes to education law (special education census grants/rules delay)
H.727 - An act relating to the exploration, formation, and organization of union school districts and unified union school districts
H. 737 - Yield Bill
House Ways and Means took up the yield bill last week. On March 15, the Joint Fiscal Office provided the committee with an Education Fund Outlook that was updated to reflect actual school budgets. With 97% of districts reporting in, the Agency of Education reported that they are expecting a statewide education spending increase of 5.4%. This equates to roughly $16M more in education spending than what the Tax Department had predicted in December.
On Friday, the committee passed H. 737, an act relating to education property tax (referred to as the yield bill). This bill sets the nonhomestead property tax rate for FY2023, the property dollar and income dollar equivalent yield for FY2023, and sets aside $36 million for the transition to universal meals in Vermont schools.
property dollar equivalent yield = $13,472.00
the income dollar equivalent yield = $16,146.00
nonhomestead property for fiscal year 2022 = $1.449 per $100.00 of equalized education property value
The bill will be on the House floor on Tuesday, March 22.
H.703 - An act relating to promoting workforce development
H.703 is still making its way through the House but did make the crossover deadline. Career Technical Education (CTE) Centers are featured prominently in this bill. Please note that there are several amendments to this bill, which have not been folded into the larger bill as of this writing. Assuming this bill passes out of the House this week, we will share a link to the most up to date version in our next blog posting. For now, here is a summary of what we expect to see in this bill as it relates to education.
Section 2 (Findings) and Section 3 (CTE Funding and Governance) incorporate H.483, a bill that passed out of House Education earlier in the session. Section 3 appropriates $180K from the General Fund to the Joint Fiscal Office to contract for services to examine the CTE system in Vermont. Section 11 of the bill appropriates $15 million from the Education Fund to the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board to create and administer the CTE Construction and Rehabilitation Experiential Learning Program and Revolving Loan Fund, which would be used to expand the experiential and educational opportunities for high school and adult CTE students to work directly on construction projects, build community partnerships among CTE centers, housing organizations, government, and private business, beautify communities and rehabilitate buildings that are underperforming assets, expand housing access to Vermonters in communities throughout Vermont, and improve property values while teaching high school and adult students trade skill. The bill was referred to the House Appropriations Committee on Friday and will likely appear on their schedule next week.
The following Senate bills made the crossover deadlines:
S.139 - An act relating to nondiscriminatory school branding
S.162 - An act relating to the collective bargaining rights of teachers (on the floor for a third reading on Tuesday, March 22)
S.197 - An act relating to the Coordinated Mental Health Crisis Response Working Group (will be on the floor early this week)
S.219 - An act relating to ensuring compliance with the U.S. and Vermont Constitutions in the use of public funds for tuition and in the dual enrollment program (will be on the floor early this week)
S.283 - An act relating to miscellaneous changes to education laws
S.286 - An act relating to amending various public pension and other postemployment benefits (see also Joint Fiscal Office Fiscal Note)(will be on the floor on Tues., March 22)
S.287 - An act relating to improving student equity by adjusting the school funding formula and providing education quality and funding oversight (on Friday, the $600k appropriation to AOE was removed from the bill and added instead to the Budget; the full Senate will likely vote the bill out on Tuesday or Wednesday)
Update on H.329 - An act relating to amending the prohibitions against discrimination
Last week, the House Committee on General, Housing, and Military Affairs continued its work on H.329, which changes the definition of harassment in educational settings, and also removes “pervasive and severe” as an essential element of a harassment claim and instead lists a set of broad factors that would be used to determine whether there has been harassment, including a consideration of conduct that occurs outside of school. Although the committee is considering an amendment to the bill that removes the reference to Title 16, the bill, as amended, leaves undisturbed the proposed changes to the definition of harassment in the Vermont Public Accommodations Act (VPAA), which imposes liability on schools, as places of public accommodation, for hostile school environment claims on peer harassment. VSBIT, VSBA, VSA, and VPA remain concerned about this bill, and, on Wednesday, March 16, offered testimony through Attorney Heather Lynn. Although the bill did not make crossover, it could find a home in another bill so we will continue to closely monitor the bill in whatever form it takes.