School Mandate Relief Bills to be Voted
Tomorrow, Tuesday, April 5, the Senate Education Committee is scheduled to consider the package of bills designed to relieve school districts of some of the mandates imposed upon them by the state. The meeting is scheduled for 10:30 a.m., in Room 8 East Wing, Main Capitol. Supporters argue that without this mandate relief, school property taxes will increase, because of decreased state and federal funding. Opponents argue lifting these mandates will compromise the quality of education for students.
My Senate Bill 612, legislation to empower schools to make furloughs for economic necessity, just as it is in private industry, is set to be considered, as is:
- Senate Bill 202 - allow alternative certifications for principals and teachers;
- Senate Bill 293 and 296 - link bid thresholds to consumer price index;
- Senate Bill 329 - suspend certain reporting requirements in years when state education funding declines;
- Senate Bill 537 - require 2/3 school board vote to raise property taxes;
- Senate Bill 801 - permit single prime bidding
- Senate Bill 802 - give districts the option to hire either school certificated nurses or Registered Nurses;
- Senate Bill 803 - permit districts to advertise from a menu of options, including the internet;
- Senate Bill 814 - reauthorize Mandate Waiver program allowing school construction project bids by both multi- and single prime;
- Senate Bill 857 - repeal obsolete sections of the Public School Code that require districts to use increases in basic education funding for new programs and expansion of existing programs;
- Senate Bill 858 - permit districts the option of hiring certificated superintendents or candidates who have a graduate degree in business or finance; and
- Senate Bill 884 - waive administrator training requirements for districts demonstrating measured growth in performance.
One of my goals for the Senate Communications & Technology Committee is to develop an "inventory" of Pennsylvania technology projects and expenditures to ensure the state is squeezing every penny out of each tax dollar spent on communications and technology. Part of this effort will focus on state investments in research and development – key components of future economic opportunities – including research done by colleges and universities.
The Center for Measuring University Performance annually ranks major research universities and their 2009 rankings include a number of private and public institutions at or near the top of their list, including: the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania State University, and Carnegie Mellon University. The Senate Communications and Technology Committee will hold a public hearing to receive testimony from the research leaders of these universities. This hearing will be held Wednesday, April 6, 9:30 a.m., Room 8 E-A, East Wing, Main Capitol.
Hearing Follow Up
As a follow up to the Communications & Technology Committee hearing held earlier this month on electronic sharing of health information records and other patient information, there are a number of issues being pursued, including establishing a directory of providers of health information record exchanges; certifying networks (perhaps using established or to-be-established) federal standards; sharing best practices and other information and polices through a to-be-created governing board; and allowing consumers to "opt out" of health information exchanges. Additional information will follow as it is further developed.
Town Hall Meeting Scheduled
I will host a town hall meeting this Thursday, April 7, at 7 p.m., at the Ono Fire Hall. Please plan to join me!