Rep. Cook: Legislative Update

Posted by: Devan Strebing  | Friday, February 26, 2016 4:00 pm

To ensure Hoosier students are better prepared to compete in the global economy, I authored a bill that would provide high school students the opportunity to take classes in newly created workplace functional Spanish. This bill would emphasize common Spanish vocabulary and acceptable grammar usage. Upon successful completion of the classes, students would qualify for credit and special language notations on their transcript.

Students would be able to start taking the elective Workplace Spanish classes that will count for credit and notation on their high school transcript as soon as the 2017-18 school year. The Indiana Department of Education would be in charge of the course description and an outline of acceptable units of study. I am proud to announce House Bill 1209 has now passed both houses and awaits the governor's signature to be signed into law!

The class completion and transcript notation would benefit both high school students and potential employers because it would signal that these student would be better prepared to effectively communicate on specific job sites. It would show potential employers that the students went above and beyond in their studies to become vocabulary functional in a language that helps them communicate more efficiently once in the workforce. This distinction would help promote knowledge and diversity and may encourage students to take more language course work to become more fluent.

I have also had the opportunity to sponsor and co-sponsor Senate bills in the House. Senate Bill 3 moved a portion of the code pertaining to funding for science, technology, engineering and mathematics teacher recruitment from a transportation code, to code that falls under Higher Education, which administers these STEM scholarships. This bill passed the House and has been returned to the Senate for consideration. It is called a technical corrections bill.

The data that charter school organizers currently report to the DOE have been used to compute components of charter school funding. Over the years, as the relevant statutes have been modified or superseded, the need for the data has changed. For example, some elements of the data were once used to determine the property taxes a resident school corporation had to levy on behalf of the charter schools attended by students with legal settlement in the school corporation. In 2009, the school funding formula was modified to eliminate property taxes, so resident school corporations no longer had to levy property taxes for charter schools. In 2015, the school funding formula was amended to make the funding per student for first-year charter schools in Marion County independent of the funding per student of the school corporation in which the students attending the charter school have legal settlement. The funding per student for the charter school was a weighted average of the funding per student of the school corporations. I sponsored SB 9, which eliminated this procedure because the data collected under the current statute can be obtained from other data collection reports that the DOE currently collects.

I am also sponsoring SB 279, which clarifies the procedure for extending a referendum tax levy. Under current law, the governing body of the school corporation has to adopt a resolution, the Department of Local Government Finance has to approve the language to be placed on the ballot, and the voters within the school district have to approve the levy. Under this provision, these actions must occur before Dec. 31 of the final calendar year in which the school corporation’s previously approved referendum levy is imposed. Additionally, the number of years for which a referendum levy can be extended cannot exceed the number of years for which the original referendum levy was imposed.

The 2016 session is winding down. To learn more about the legislation mentioned in this article, please visit www.iga.in.gov.

If you have any questions or input, contact me at H32@iga.in.gov or 317-232-9678.

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Rep. Cook (R-Cicero) represents all of Tipton County and portions of Hamilton, Madison, Delaware, Howard and Grant counties.