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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It’s Turnaround! What’s gone? What’s Where?

Mar 2, 2015 by

KNEA has been following, testifying on, and reporting here on a number of bills in the first half of the session. While generally speaking, if a bill has not passed its chamber of origin by Turnaround, it is considered dead for the year. There are some exceptions to this however.

Bills that were introduced in or referred to the House and Senate Federal and State Affairs, Senate Ways and Means, Senate Assessment and Taxation, House committees on Calendar and Printing, Appropriations, or Taxation are exempt from timelines. A common practice at Turnaround is “blessing” a bill. A bill that is in a non-exempt committee and has not been acted upon can be referred to an exempt committee and so kept alive into the second half of the session.

Here then is the status of a number of bills we have been tracking.

House Bills:

HB 2139, repealing in-state tuition for the children of undocumented aliens. KNEA opposes this bill. It still awaits action in the House.

HB 2034, Dave Trabert’s “minority report” bill changing collective bargaining. KNEA opposes this bill. It has been killed.

HB 2199, mandating opt-in for human sexuality education. KNEA opposes this bill. It awaits action in the House.

HB 2292, repealing the Kansas College and Career Ready Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, ending use of AP and International Baccalaureate programs. KNEA opposes this bill. It awaits action in the House.

HB 2257, the education community consensus collective bargaining bill. KNEA supports this bill. It was amended into HB 2326.

HB 2236, the bill ending exclusive bargaining rights. KNEA opposed this bill as introduced. It now contains the education community’s consensus collective bargaining bill. It passed the full House and now goes to the Senate. KNEA now supports the bill.

HB 2220, restoring teacher due process. KNEA supports this bill. It awaits action in the House.

HB 2031, school district plans addressing child sexual abuse. KNEA supports this bill. It awaits action in the House.

HB 2232, personal financial literacy course as a graduation requirement. KNEA opposes this bill. It awaits action in the House.

HB 2234, prohibiting post-secondary institution employees from using their titles when writing in the newspaper. KNEA opposes this bill. It awaits action in the House.

HB 2028, creating a legislative committee to write education standards. KNEA opposes this bill. It awaits action in the House.

Senate Bills:

SB 2, authorizing school districts to offer multi-year contracts to teachers. KNEA is neutral on this bill. It awaits action in the Senate.

SB 60, participation by homeschool and private school students in KSHSAA activities. KNEA opposed this bill as introduced. It was significantly amended and has been passed by the Senate. The bill is now in the House. KNEA is neutral on the bill as amended.

SB 70, background checks and fingerprinting of teachers every five years. KNEA opposes this bill. It has passed the Senate and is now in the House.

SB 71, changing the LOB calculation creating a cut in supplemental general state aid in the current year. KNEA opposes this bill. It awaits action in the Senate.

SB 56, Removing the affirmative defense from K-12 public, private, or parochial school teachers. KNEA opposes this bill. It has passed the Senate and is now in the House.

SB 67, Common Core repeal (see HB 2292). KNEA opposes this bill. It awaits action in the Senate.

SB 212, prohibiting the use of payroll deduction for dues collection. KNEA opposes this bill. It awaits action in the Senate.

SB 179, modifying the Public Employer Employee Relations Act (PEERA) limiting negotiations and eliminating the Public Employees Relations Board. KNEA opposes this bill. It awaits action in the Senate.

For information on other bills we’ve been tracking this session, click on the “Bill Quick Look” link to the right.

For information on the status of collective bargaining, see our post below.

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Going after employees, bargaining, elections, and justices

Feb 12, 2015 by

The War on Teachers, Police, Fire Fighters, Highway Workers, Nurses, Correctional Officers…etc., etc.

You might remember earlier this year when Kansas Speaker of the House Ray Merrick (R-Stilwell) proclaimed in the press that public employees are “non-producers” – folks who just take and take and contribute nothing to society.

Well, it seems that a lot of state legislators and Governor Brownback must agree.

Yesterday we reported on the introduction in the Senate of two bills (SB 176 and SB 179) designed to end collective bargaining of anything other than “minimum salaries.” Public employees would lose the right to mediation and fact finding; they would lose the right to file a grievance. The Public Employment Relations Board (management and labor working together) would be abolished and all power for decision making handed to the Secretary of Labor (appointed by the Governor).

At the same time, the Governor announced a sweeping change in hiring practices and rules for state employees. His plan would change jobs to classified status, making most state employees “at will” employees who can be let go at any time for any reason (or no reason). He plans to end seniority considerations in staff reductions. His plan would create civil servants rewarded more for loyalty to the administration than for service to the citizens.

We can’t understand why it is that public employees have become the enemy of the state. Frankly, we appreciate having public employees plow the snow from our street or help us after an accident. We love the men and women who keep criminals behind bars, who fill the potholes, who watch over our state parks, who provide services to foster families. And of course, we love our school employees who take care of children every day.

Does anyone still need to be reminded that public employees are NOT the reason we have no money in the state bank account. Governor Brownback and the Kansas Legislature consciously worked to bankrupt the state treasury through their income tax cuts that benefit only the wealthiest Kansans leave those who depend on quality state services with nothing.


Senate Education again to take up collective bargaining

You will remember that we reported on a hearing the Senate Education Committee on SB 136, the PNA modification bill crafted and supported by KASB, KNEA, USA/KS, and KSSA. The entire education community stood up in favor of a specific bill modifying PNA. No one appeared in the committee to oppose SB 136. Sounds like a pretty easy decision – all educators support it, no one opposes it.

But…next week the Senate Education Committee will hold a hearing on SB 176, the bill we described above and in yesterday’s report. A bill the whole education community opposes; a bill which will send the teaching profession back to the turn of the century (and we’re talking about 1899-1900, not 1999-2000!

The hearing will be on Wednesday of next week. You can contact the members of the Senate Education Committee on this issue by clicking on their names below:

Sen. Steve Abrams

Sen. Tom Arpke

Sen. Anthony Hensley

Sen. Vickie Schmidt

Sen. Dan Kerschen

Sen. Pat Pettey

Sen. Molly Baumgardner

Sen. Dennis Pyle

Sen. Jeff Melcher

Sen. Caryn Tyson

Sen. Steve Fitzgerald


Other Big Issues: Elections and Courts

Most KNEA members will be as surprised as we were to learn that teachers hold total dominion over the election of local school board members. But that’s just why, according to Senator Mitch Holmes (R-St. John), that he had to introduce Senate Bill 171, a measure to move local elections from April of odd numbered years to November of even numbered years. We suppose that’s the same rationale for making those elections partisan – requiring party identification.

We are not surprised to find that city and county commissions and school boards across the state are passing resolutions opposing SB 171. They don’t want the elections closest to the people to become the partisan circus we see on the state and federal level where dark money groups on both sides spend small fortunes to vilify candidates. Our local elections do not need to become more focused on character assassination than on local issues of real concern.

At the same time we’ve been watching hearings on constitutional amendments that would abolish merit selection of justices and replace it with political whim.

Angry mostly about judicial decisions on school finance – from Montoy to Gannon – Brownback and his allies are trying to either secure for themselves the appointment of justices who will rule more in line with their ideology or, not achieving that, turn appointment to the supreme court into popular partisan elections.

Either way, the court would become beholden not to the rule of law but rather to the administration or campaign donors.

Regardless of what anyone thinks of a particular court ruling, everyone wants to know that should they need to seek justice from a court, they can count on a court that puts the rule of law and fairness above their appointment or re-election campaign.


Senate Education Still Working Homeschoolers in Sports Bill

The Senate Education continued working SB 60 today, the bill that would permit homeschool or private school children to participate in extracurricular or co-curricular programs in public schools.

A number of amendments offered by Sen. Vickie Schmidt (R-Topeka) were adopted this afternoon but she still has one more which will have to wait until Monday as the committee needed to adjourn and go to the floor.

Schmidt’s amendments would ensure that:

  • Non-public school students must pay the same participation fees as public school students,
  • Non-public school students are subject to KSHAA rules,
  • District liability insurance must cover non-public school students,
  • Non-public school students must attest to academic requirements,
  • There is no guarantee of a spot on the team; the coach/sponsor decides,
  • Non-public school students must submit proof of immunization.

That’s when the discussion ended, with Schmidt having one more amendment to go. So…More on Monday!

 

 

 

 

 

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