Senate reverses on PNA; sides with KPI, KCC instead of Educators

Mar 24, 2015 by

Melcher leads attack on teachers

Senator Jeff Melcher led the attack on teachers in the Senate today, convincing 19 others to abandon the bill the Senate earlier approved 40 to 0 and reflected the agreement among KNEA, KASB, KSSA, and USA/KS on improvements to the Professional Negotiations Act.

Melcher, who has focused his time in the Senate on stripping public employees of any rights they might enjoy in law, offered an amendment on a PNA bill today that does four things:

  • It ends fact-finding in the bargaining process,
  • It sunsets all current contract provisions on their next expiration date,
  • It bans the negotiation of salary provisions beyond “minimum salaries,” and
  • It prohibits districts and unions from negotiating due process provisions in their contracts.

In his summation on the Senate floor, Melcher told the body that teachers would appreciate this bill because it would free school districts to increase their salaries and set Kansas on the path to terminating 7 to 10% of all teachers. Melcher maintains that firing these teachers will put Kansas top in the world in education.

Voting with Melcher to gut collective bargaining for teachers were:

Abrams, Arpke, Baumgardner, Bruce, Denning, Donovan, Fitzgerald, Holmes, King, Knox, Lynn, Masterson, Olson, Pilcher-Cook, Powell, Pyle, Smith and Wilborn.

Voting to respect the education community’s agreement on professional negotiations were:

Bowers, Faust-Goudeau, Francisco, Haley, Hawk, Hensley, Holland, Kelly, Kerschen, LaTurner, Longbine, McGinn, Ostmeyer, Petersen, Pettey, Schmidt, Tyson, and Wolf.

Present but not voting were:

Love and O’Donnell

Coming to the floor this bill had the support of KNEA, KASB, KSSA, and USA/KS. With the Melcher amendment, all four organizations oppose the bill.

The bill will be subject to a final action vote sometime tomorrow.

It is critical that you contact your Senator TONIGHT by phone and email. Tell them that these attacks on teachers must stop. Vote NO on HB 2326.

Click here to access a Senate roster with office phone numbers and emails.

Debate on payroll deduction and PEERA bill halted

HB 2096 was taken up by the Senate today but after a vote on one amendment, the bill was pulled from debate and set aside on the calendar. It could come up later so keep watching.

As the bill was being debated, an amendment was offered by Sen. Garrett Love that would have stripped out the Baumgardner amendment. That amendment banned payroll deduction for any voluntary contributions – union dues, United Way, car payments to credit unions, etc. Baumgardner had argued if the state needed to get out of the business of helping others collect money, then it should be applied fairly and not only to unions.

The Love amendment failed on a vote of 13 to 19 with 7 Senators present and passing and one absent.

When the amendment failed, the bill was passed over. It could come back tomorrow.

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Take Action on Payroll Deduction; PNA Movement; Lots of Action in House

Mar 19, 2015 by

Senate Committee strips public employees of rights

The Senate Commerce Committee went out of their way today to strip Kansas public employees of the right to control their own paychecks and prevent state and municipal employees from having a real voice in their wages, hours, and working condition.

On a motion of Senator Denning (R-Overland Park), the Committee gutted House Bill 2096 and inserted into it the contents of SB 179, ending the Public Employee Relations Board and enacting severe limitations on collective bargaining rights for state and municipal employees, and Senate Bill 212, prohibiting all public employees from paying association or union dues via payroll deduction.

By putting these two anti-worker bills into the House bill, they successfully stop the House from any ability to have the bills heard in committee or ended. The House can only vote up or down on the bill on a motion to concur in the Senate changes. This end run around the legislative process is commonly known as railroading or ramrodding. It was used to pass the school finance bill that ends the current formula and cuts funding for most school districts.

This bill is the latest in the war on public employees being waged by conservatives in the Legislature. So far they have prohibited public employees from using payroll deduction for PAC contributions, ended fair dismissal rights for teachers, attempted to repeal the professional negotiations act, reclassified state employees to end fair dismissal rights, and now voted to dismantled protections in PEERA (bargaining for state and municipal employees) and ban payroll deduction for dues.

This bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration. If it passes the Senate, it will go to the House. We are almost out of time for consideration so the votes are likely to happen in the next couple days.

Make yourself heard!

Click here for a roster of Senators with phones and emails!

Phone them and leave a message. THEY MUST HEAR FROM KANSANS EVERYWHERE!

Once you have phoned, send an email.

Click here to access the KNEA legislative email portal.

Talking points you might use:

  • I do not need big government to protect me from my own decisions. I work hard for my pay and I should get to decide for myself how to manage it.
  • HB 2096, as passed out of the Commerce Committee, prohibits me from making voluntary payroll deductions. How can government restrictions on my choices possibly be good policy?
  • Local communities and local governments should be free to make their own decisions about how to manage employee relations and payroll systems. HB 2096 undermines local control.
  • This bill is mean-spirited and unjustifiable. I ask you to stand up for the people who police our streets, fight fires, teach our children, and serve our state and community. VOTE NO on HB 2096.

Senate Ed Committee again takes up PNA

Earlier this session both the House and Senate passed bills that would amend the Professional Negotiations Act.

The plan passed by the House, HB 2326, is the one that was crafted collaboratively by KASB, KNEA, USA/KS, and KSSA. It changes some dates in the law, requires salaries to be negotiated annually, and allows both the board and the bargaining unit to choose five additional topics to negotiate from the current list of mandatorily negotiable items.

The plan passed by the Senate, SB 136, changes the dates in the law, requires salaries and hours to be negotiated annually, and allows both sides to bring three additional topics from the list of mandatorily negotiable items.

No action has been taken by either chamber on the other chamber’s bill. So today, the Senate Education Committee took the Senate’s version and put it into the House bill, HB 2326.

The now amended House version will go to the Senate floor. If it passes the Senate (and it did as SB 136 on a unanimous vote), it will go over to the House for a vote to concur or non-concur in the changes. If the House concurs, the bill goes to the Governor; if they non-concur, they’ll go to a conference committee on the topic.

House Ed Committee dispatches five bills

The House Education Committee did some heavy lifting today, taking up five in the backlog of bills they have to handle.

Senate Bill 8 simply repeals an outdated requirement for school district audit teams in the Division of Legislative Post Audit. The bill is non-controversial and was passed and placed on the House consent calendar.

Senate Bill 93 cleans up a higher ed provision for performance based funding in CTE programs at the community colleges. A bill last year applied to all the community colleges except Johnson County which had been expected to be dealt with separately. Since the separate bill did not pass, this bill simply adds Johnson County Community College to the list of colleges eligible for the funding.

Senate Bill 70 requires that all school employees be subject to fingerprinting and background checks every five years (upon license renewal for teachers). Teachers have already been fingerprinted and have undergone background checks but not all other school employees. The bill generated a lot of discussion regarding the cost and of such frequent checks and whether or not they should also require them of volunteers and college students who have contact with children.

The most discussed issue was the cost and who should pay the bill. In the end, the bill was amended so that the roughly $50 fee could be paid by either the employee or the school district (it will be a local decision) and that the innovative districts were treated the same as all other districts. Originally teachers in innovative districts had the fee paid for them.

This bill now goes to the full House for consideration.

House Bill 2139 was the bill ending in-state tuition for the children of undocumented aliens. This bill generated lots of passionate discussion with Representative Valdenia Winn (D-Kansas City) calling it “racist, sexist, fear-mongering.” Representative Chuck Smith (R-Pittsburg) stood up strongly for the children telling the committee, “These are OUR children and I strongly oppose this bill.”

Representative Hedke offered an amendment that would grandfather in all such students down to current year high school sophomores and then disallow the in-state rate in the future. This amendment passed on a 10-9 vote with Chairman Highland breaking the tie.

Representative Trimmer (D-Winfield) offered an amendment that would require businesses to use the E-verify system to ensure they were not hiring illegal aliens. The rationale is that if there are no jobs being offered to them in Kansas, they won’t come and the whole issue of in-state tuition is moot. This was a really interesting amendment in light of today’s action by the US Attorney on several businesses in Kansas allegedly paying illegals aliens.

Before the Trimmer amendment was voted on, Representative Dierks (R-Salina) made a motion to table the bill. “I think,” Dierks said, “that we will regret voting for this bill.” The motion to table passed, putting the bill on the shelf.

The last bill taken up was Senate Bill 60 which would allow homeschoolers and private school students to participate in KSHSAA activities in the public schools. One of the big issues in the bill is how to assess the academic performance of home schooled students as required of public school students participating in such programs.

Rep. Tony Barton (R-Leavenworth) offered an amendment that would exempt Sedgwick, Shawnee, Johnson, Douglas, and Wyandotte Counties from the bill. The amendment failed.

Trimmer then made a motion to table the bill until next session when a subcommittee could be formed to study and make recommendations on assessing the academic performance of students who wish to participate in these activities in the public schools. The motion to table passed and the bill is on the shelf until next year.



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Up Tomorrow: Your Paycheck; Block Grants; Teacher of the Year Repeal

Mar 11, 2015 by

Senate Committee hears bill to end collective bargaining for state, municipal employees

This morning the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on SB 179, a bill that dismantles the Kansas Public Employee Employer Relations Act (PEERA). PEERA is the law regarding collective bargaining for public employees other than teachers. Teachers are covered under the Professional Negotiations Act.

SB 179 would allow public employees to negotiation only minimum salaries, eliminate the Public Employee Relations Board, ban mediation and fact finding, and put whether or not a municipality could bargain with employees to a public referendum.

KNEA joins other public employee organizations in opposing this bill.

In a show of just how Committee Chair feels about the bill, the three proponents were allowed 20 minutes of time to address the committee while opponents were allowed one minute each. We wonder if you can guess who were the proponents?

Tomorrow the same Committee will hold a hearing on SB 212, a bill that will prohibit public employees from using payroll deduction to pay Association or Union dues. They laughingly call this “Strengthening Protection of Public Employee Paychecks Act” because, as you know, public employees must be protected from themselves and who better to do that than the Kansas Policy Institute, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, and anti-union legislators?

Click here to urge the Committee to vote NO on SB 212.


Block grant finance plan now up to “ramming speed”

Remember the old Viking movies when they ordered the oarsmen to work at “ramming speed” when attacking an enemy ship? Well, that’s a lot like the legislative process being used to pass a school finance bill that no one in the education community supports.

Oh, the bill does have supporters – the Kansas Policy Institute, the Kansas Tea Party’s Kansans for Liberty, and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. It just doesn’t have the support of school boards, superintendents, school administrators, teachers, the Kansas PTA, Game on for Kansas Schools, and every other group associated with public education in Kansas.

Unveiled at a Thursday press conference, the bill was available to be read on Friday. The hearing was Monday morning. Crammed into Senate Bill 7, it was passed out of Committee Tuesday morning. It will be debated on the floor of the House tomorrow. RAMMING SPEED!

The Legislature has spent years debating and pondering whether or not supermarkets can sell beer but only five days on the financing of the state’s entire system of public education!

Some folks believe that this plan is not so bad in that it seems to keep schools from losing millions more over the next two years. But that’s simply not true. Even Senate Ways and Means Chairman Ty Masterson (R-Andover) admitted during the Senate hearing on the plan that there were no guarantees that the funds would not be cut. The state budget, after all, is in something of a crisis and there have been no efforts to fix the drying up revenue stream. And without that fix, nothing is guaranteed.

Click here to urge your Representative to vote NO on SB 7, the Block Grant bill.

House Ed Committee considers bill to replace the Teacher of the Year program

Suggesting that excellent teachers should stay in their classrooms instead for working state-wide, Rep. Jerry Lunn (R-Overland Park) has proposed HB 2378, a bill which would create a legislative teacher award program. A small group of business leaders, legislators, and principals, most of whom are political appointees, would select 15 teachers they considered excellent and provide them with large financial awards to the limit that they could generate funds. These teachers would not be ambassadors of great teaching as are the current teachers of the year.

This bill would also end the current Teacher of the Year program which has been in place since 1955. The Kansas TOY program has been a model for those in other states.

Many of the most conservative legislators around the room expressed the sentiment that Kansas teachers are underpaid. We agree. Teachers ARE underpaid. In fact, Kansas ranks 42nd in the nation in teacher salaries. Truth is they really are interested in only rewarding a few and getting their photo in the paper with one of those 15. We would suggest that a good way to start rewarding excellence would be to fund the Nationally Board Certified Teachers program that hasn’t been funded in years. That program would benefit many teachers who have demonstrated excellence.

The Committee plans to work the bill tomorrow.



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Collective Bargaining Comparison

Mar 2, 2015 by

Click the “Read More” link below to view a comparison of the two collective bargaining bills working their way through the legislature right now.


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Senate and House pass PNA bills that support educators

Feb 27, 2015 by

About 10:45 tonight, the full Senate passed SB 136, the PNA bill that came to the floor looking like the Dave Trabert “minority report” bill and was amended on a motion by Senator Tom Arpke (R-Salina) to look almost identical to HB 2326, the PNA bill crafted through consensus by KASB, KNEA, USA/KS, and KSSA. HB 2326 had passed earlier in the day by the House.

The vote in the House was 109 to 14. The bill in the Senate passed 40 to 0.

This action means that both chambers have passed PNA bills that are nearly identical and both representing the consensus of the four education organizations.

Our thanks go out to all the Senators who voted to support the Arpke amendment and the bill as amended. Special thanks also to Senators Arpke, Caryn Tyson, Molly Baumgardner, and Vicki Schmidt who worked with education lobbyists to craft the amendment and then carry it on the floor. Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley also spoke in support of the Arpke amendment on the floor, ensuring the support of the minority party.


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