House Ed Committee Rejects Another “Compromise” on Due Process
House Education Committee Chairman Clay Aurand called a meeting today for the specific purpose of addressing due process. Aurand has repeatedly expressed his opinion that due process restoration cannot pass the Senate and so the House must negotiate against its own position and somehow compromise on the issue.
This year it came in his bill, HB 2483, which would establish two tiers of teachers by restoring due process to those who had earned it prior to repeal in 2014 and provide nothing for any teachers hired since. He had an amendment to the bill that would still restore full due process to those who had earned it but provide a very limited due process (the same as in the 1980’s) for new teachers. The new teachers would have an impossible hill to climb in succeeding in a challenge under the bill as Aurand put in only three conditions under which a hearing officer could rule against the district.
In response to those who oppose a two-tiered system, Aurand also put a provision in the bill that would allow the bargaining agent (usually KNEA) to move all veteran teachers into the limited due process system.
The debate quickly showed that the committee was in no mood to establish a bill that did not restore full due process to all Kansas teachers. They repeatedly said that they did not need the bullying bill and due process bill separated and that the two issues were linked since bullying has to do with bullying of students and staff. Rep. Melissa Rooker pointed out that there are eight statutes providing real due process to students including those brought to the district’s attention for bullying but no such protections for teachers.
As to the argument of the need for the House to compromise their own position to appease the Senate or the Speaker or the Governor, Rep. Ed Trimmer said that if one of those three were to torpedo the bullying bill because they did not want to provide rights to teachers, that decision would be on those people and not the members of the House.
The Aurand amendment failed on a vote of 6 t0 10. The Committee then moved to the underlying motion to pass the original two-tier bill. That motion had been offered by Rep. Sutton. That motion failed on a unanimous voice vote.
At that point, Aurand said he recognized that the issue was done; that he recognized the committee’s position and would not go any further including not offering a standalone bullying bill.
Rep. Diana Dierks noted that the actions of the committee should not be taken as any disrespect for the Chairman but instead reflected a heartfelt desire of the majority to do right by Kansas teachers.
So here is where we are as of tonight.
The full restoration of due process rights for Kansas teachers in included in the bullying bill, HB 2578, which is on the floor but below the debate line meaning it is available for debate and passage but will not be considered tomorrow.
We will be watching for it to come up above the line and working with both Republicans and Democrats to urge its consideration.
House Higher Ed Committee Hears Repeal of In-state Tuition; Will Not Work Bill
The House Higher Education Committee held a continued hearing on HB 2643, a bill repealing in-state tuition for the children of undocumented workers (these children would have to have graduated from a Kansas high school, been in the state at least three years, be admitted to college and sign an affidavit promising to apply for citizenship as soon as they are eligible to do so). The “savings” from the bill would be used to offset tuition for foster children.
KNEA opposed the bill as did many other organization including KASB.
KNEA would be delighted to support a bill that provides tuition assistance to foster children but not at the expense of other Kansas students. Opposition to the bill was overwhelming while Kris Kobach was the primary proponent.
At the end of the hearing, the Committee Chair, Kevin Jones, announced they would not be working the bill. This means that unless the bill is referred to a timeline exempt committee, it is dead for this year.
Senate Fed & State Goes Crazy
Despite all the good news in the House committees, the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee decided to push the ultra-conservative envelope today and passed two alarming bills out of committee.
The first, SCR 1611, calls for a constitutional convention under which the United States Constitution could simply be tossed out and delegates appointed by state politicians could re-write the whole darn thing. While the resolution is specific to what they want to change, there can be no limits put on a constitutional convention.
KNEA opposes SCR 1611.
The Committee also passed out SB 340, the campus free speech act under which colleges in Kansas would have essentially no ability to control rallies and protests on campus. All outdoor areas of campus would be “free speech zones” and if any one student invited a speaker to hold a rally, the college would have no choice but to allow it in whatever outdoor place the speaker wanted. We imagine that Richard Spencer and Louis Farrakhan are both planning their Kansas college tours right now!
Colleges would even be prohibited from stopping events based on other experiences. So, for example, while Spencer’s events create havoc (see Charlottesville, Virginia), a college could not use the safety of students as an excuse to restrict Spencer’s use of the campus. Combine this with a new House bill that would allow 18-year-olds to carry weapons on campus and we can only envision disaster.
KNEA, believing that the safety of students is paramount in determining what events will be permitted on campus, opposes SB 340.