Senate Bills Move Through the House
This week the House has moved more than 40 Senate bills through final passage and we have quite a few more bills remaining to be heard in committee and second reading on the House floor.
There are two important bills are moving through the early part of this process.
Senate Bill 575: Collective Bargaining passed out of the House Education Committee this week by a vote of 7-5 and will now go before the full House to be considered. The bill limits the collective bargaining issues for teacher contracts for primarily wages and benefits. This bill places other issues into the "discussable issues" which requires the bargaining representative and school administration to discuss these issues, but not include them in the contract. Further, it proposes binding "fact finding". This is similar to binding arbitration, but narrows the arbitrator to considering the last offers made by both sides and then makes a binding recommendation. This bill will now come to the House floor for further amending as there are a number of issues that remain within it. The Indiana State Principals Association, Indiana Superintendents Association, and the Indiana School Board Associations all spoke in favor of this bill. The Indiana State Teachers Association still has serious reservations, but is working closely with the House to make additional improvements.
Senate Bill 1: Teacher Evaluations has just begun its hearings in the House Education Committee. This begins with hours of public testimony where individuals and organizations speak for and against the bill. From this testimony, amendments will be offered. The Senate version requires significant clean-up and should seek to clarify an evaluation and merit pay process which is fair and equitable to a wide range of teachers. There are additional safeguards being placed in the legislation to ensure no teacher will take a salary cut no matter the outcome of their evaluation. Many school corporations already have well defined teacher evaluation tools and processes. Some are using the TAP model offered by University of Indianapolis which focuses heavily on teacher improvement. Forty-five schools in 11 school corporations are already using this model. In addition, Indiana Department of Education has provided local school corporation, which will retain autonomy on the teacher evaluation process, with an additional model to consider. There is justifiable concern from teachers on how the evaluations will work. We will watch the development of this bill closely.
As we move into the last three weeks, we have two weeks to hear the remainder of the Senate bills. We expect to have drafts of the redistricting maps out next week with committee hearings and refinements to follow.
Further, bills originating in one chamber, but passing with additional amendments must be reconciled during the Conference Committee process. These bills, along with a final budget, will then come before the House and Senate for final concurrence. If we continue our pace of work, the session will end as scheduled on April 29.
Thanks for your continued feedback, support and words of wisdom. Please enjoy our beautiful southern Indiana spring.
Rep. Sue Ellspermann (R-Ferdinand)