Some new faces and old issues appear for the 2016 regular session

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As another long legislative session kicks off, how to shore up the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System is likely to loom large for legislators. A variety of prefiled bills, which range from maximum class size to accountability, promise an active session for education issues. Photo by Amy Wallot, Feb. 19, 2014
As another long legislative session kicks off, how to shore up the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System is likely to loom large for legislators. A variety of prefiled bills, which range from maximum class size to accountability, promise an active session for education issues.
Photo by Amy Wallot, Feb. 19, 2014

By Tracy Goff Herman
tracy.herman@education.ky.gov

It’s that time of year, the 2016 Regular Session of the Kentucky General Assembly is about to start. With a gubernatorial election completed and new Gov. Matt Bevin sworn in, there are several issues the governor named as priorities in his inaugural address, including: complete audits of all retirement systems; tax reform and streamlining government; and enabling legislation for charter schools.

The upcoming session is the long session dedicated to the preparation of the state’s biennial budget. The Consensus Forecasting Group (CFG) has meet several times to discuss revenue estimates for the general fund and the road fund. Those estimates are here:

CFG Preliminary Revenue Estimates October, 2015

CFG FY2016-FY2020 Budget Planning Report Revenue Estimates, Sept. 2015

And here is a summary of issues that are likely to come up this session:

CHARTERS
Much like gambling, a perennial issue in Kentucky is whether or not the legislature will authorize charter schools. As one of only eight states without charters, the push to allow for this option continues. For a series of briefs published by the National Conference of State Legislatures looks at student achievement results, teacher requirements, facility requirements, and how states authorize and finance charters, visit: Charter Schools in the States.

KENTUCKY TEACHERS RETIREMENT SYSTEM (KTRS)
The Annual Required Contribution (ARC) is the amount an employer must contribute annually to a defined benefit pension fund and is based on an actuarial formula. The ARC funds current and future retirement benefits and liabilities. This is what is currently underfunded in the KTRS system.

New accounting rules from the Governmental Accounting Standards Board require underfunded pension plans to report this unfunded liability using a lower assumed rate of return. At the December meeting of the KTRS Board of Trustees, Cavanaugh Macdonald Consulting LLC, provided a funding analysis.  While the liability itself hasn’t changed, the accounting rule change decreases Kentucky’s funding percentage of the ARC from 45.59 percent to 42.49 percent as of June 30, 2015.  The unfunded liability grew to $24.43 billion from $21.59 billion a year ago.

Former Gov. Steve Beshear appointed a working group last year to review funding options. The group reviewed practices in other states, conducted a comprehensive review of funding options and worked with a pension fund expert, but couldn’t settle on any one recommendation.

Last session, the legislature considered the financing and refinancing of pension obligation bonds. The proposal would have authorized the Kentucky Asset/Liability Commission to issue funding notes in an amount not to exceed $3.3 billion in the 2015-16 fiscal year. The legislation didn’t pass, but this, along with other options, were vetted through the working group. While they did not land on one particular solution, the discussion will continue on how to best close the unfunded liability.

PREFILED LEGISLATION
There have been several pieces of legislation related to education prefiled. A few of note:

BR 42 — An act relating to alternative certification programs.
Sponsored by Sen. Max Wise, this act would amend KRS 161.048 to allow a veteran with a bachelor’s degree in any area to be issued a provisional teaching certificate if other criteria are met.

BR 116 — An act relating to the posting of historical documents.
This act, sponsored by Rep. Kevin D. Bratcher and Rep. Kenny Imes, would amend KRS 158.195 to require the posting of the preambles of the U.S. Constitution and the Kentucky Constitution in all public school classrooms and allow a classroom teacher to choose placement within the classroom.

BR 134 — An act relating to tuition waivers for children.
Sponsored by Rep. Wilson Stone, this act amends KRS 164.2847 to provide a tuition waiver to a student at a Kentucky public postsecondary institution if the student’s biological parents are deceased or have had their parental rights terminated due to neglect or abuse, if the student was adopted by a blood relative or assigned a legal guardian at least 12 months prior to the student’s 18th birthday, and if documentation and information requested to confirm eligibility status is provided.

BR 167 — An act relating to superintendent screening committee membership.
This act, sponsored by Rep. Kelly Flood, would amend KRS 160.352 to require a school equity council member be appointed to the superintendent screening committee if an equity council exists.

BR 201 — An act relating to sales and use tax holidays and declaring an emergency.
Sponsored by Rep. Fitz Steele, this legislation would create a new section of KRS Chapter 139 to establish a three day sales and use tax holiday during the first weekend in August each year to exempt clothing, school supplies, school art supplies, computers and school computer supplies.

BR 209 — An act relating to public education concerning historical items.
Sponsored by Rep. Reginald Meeks, this act would create a new section of KRS Chapter 11 to require the Historic Properties Advisory Commission to provide appropriate public education regarding items related to the Confederate States of America, African-American history, Native American history and the history of other ethnic, cultural or religious groups having a presence in the Commonwealth and on public display. It would create a new section of KRS Chapter 148 to require the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet to provide appropriate public education regarding items related to the Confederate States of America, African-American history, Native American history and the history of other ethnic, cultural or religious groups having a presence in the Commonwealth and on public display. It also would create a new section of KRS Chapter 171 to require the Department for Libraries and Archives to provide appropriate public education regarding items related to the Confederate States of America, African-American history, Native American history and the history of other ethnic, cultural or religious groups having a presence in the Commonwealth and on public display; define certain terms.

BR 217 — An act relating to student assistants.
This act, sponsored by Rep. Larry Clark, would create a new section of KRS Chapter 117 to allow minors 16 years of age or older to be appointed as student election assistants; amend KRS 117.045 to conform.

BR 249 — An act relating to maximum class size.
Sponsored by Rep. Linda Belcher, this legislation would amend KRS 157.360 to prohibit the number of pupils enrolled in a class on the 15th student instructional day from exceeding the established maximum class size; amend KRS 157.420 to conform.

BR 250 — An act relating to career readiness.
This act, sponsored by Rep. Linda Belcher, would create a new section of KRS Chapter 158 to require the Kentucky Board of Education to identify a student who obtains a minimum score of 36 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery as career-ready.

BR 252 — An act relating to school accountability.
Sponsored by Rep. Jill York, this act amends KRS 158.6455 to remove a student’s scores from the accountability measure of a school if the student is enrolled in the school but has attended an alternative education program as a result of local school district policies or procedures for the three months prior to testing.

BR 257 — An act relating to school notification of persons authorized to contact or remove a child.
This Rep. Kim King sponsored legislation would create a new section of KRS Chapter 620 to require the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, if the cabinet is granted custody of a dependent, neglected, or abused child, to notify the school in which the child is enrolled of people authorized to contact the child or remove the child from school grounds.

BR 298 — An act relating to tuition waivers for foster children.
Rep. Linda Belcher sponsored this act, which would amend KRS 164.2847 to permit tuition waivers for foster children enrolled in a dual credit or dual enrollment course in high school.

BR 319 — An act relating to school safety and declaring an emergency.
Sponsored by Sen. Julian M. Carroll, this legislation creates a new section of KRS Chapter 158 to require school resource officers to have basic and advanced training provided by the Department of Criminal Justice Training; amends KRS 158.441 to conform.

BR 334 — An act proposing to amend Sections 91, 93, and 95 of the Constitution of Kentucky relating to the Commissioner of Education.
Filed by Rep. Kenny Imes, this act proposes to amend Sections 91, 93 and 95 of the Constitution of Kentucky to allow for statewide election for the commissioner of education, to be held during regular elections.

BR 338 — An act relating to open juvenile proceedings.
This act filed by Sen. Julie Raque Adams would create new sections of KRS Chapter 21A to request that the Supreme Court establish a pilot project to permit participating courts to make specified juvenile proceedings presumptively open to the public; establish guidelines; provide a mechanism for a participating court to close a specific hearing upon a finding of cause; and create a new section of KRS Chapter 610 to conform.

BR 340 — An act relating to military service.
Rep. Kevin D. Bratcher sponsored this act, which would amend KRS 159.035 to allow for any high school student participating in basic training required by a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces to be considered present for all purposes for up to 10 days.

BR 348 — An act relating to financial literacy.
This act, sponsored by Sen. Dennis Parrett, creates a new section of KRS Chapter 158 to require the Department of Education to develop and implement the Kentucky Financial Literacy Program; and requires a high school student to complete instruction in financial literacy, included within the existing curriculum, prior to graduation.

BR 356 — A resolution encouraging school bus safety.
Rep. Jim DeCesare filed this resolution, which encourages the Kentucky Center for School Safety to provide additional support for school bus safety; encourages the Kentucky Department of Education to provide additional training specifically geared for bus safety of young students; and encourages the Kentucky School Boards Association to provide model policies to ensure greater safety for young students while boarding and disembarking from school buses.

BR 364 — An act relating to prevention-oriented child sexual education.
Sponsored by Sen. Ray S. Jones II, the act amends KRS 156.070 to permit the establishment of age-appropriate education programs pertaining to the recognition of child physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect and how to report suspected abuse; creates a short title, “Erin’s Law,” for Section 1 of this Act and KRS 156.095(7).

BR 369 — A concurrent resolution encouraging the Kentucky Board of Education to continue and expand collaboration with the Council on Postsecondary Education, the Education Professional Standards Board, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, and industry interests to develop and align policies and practices to support strong career pathways that help more students earn industry and postsecondary credentials and obtain good jobs.
Sponsored by Sen. Julian M. Carroll, this resolution encourages the Kentucky Board of Education to continue and expand collaboration with the Council on Postsecondary Education, the Education Professional Standards Board and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce to align policies and practices in support of career and technical education.

BR 396 — An act relating to interscholastic extracurricular activities.
Sponsored by Reps. Stan Lee, Lynn Bechler, Robert Benvenuti III, Tim Couch, Ron Crimm, Jim DeCesare, Kenny Imes, Jerry T. Miller, Phil Moffett and Addia Wuchner, this legislation would create a new section of KRS Chapter 158 to authorize participation in a public school interscholastic extracurricular activity by a private school student when the private school does not offer the interscholastic extracurricular activity; establish criteria for participation therein.

BR 402 — An act relating to cardiopulmonary resuscitation training in schools.
This act, sponsored by Sen. Max Wise, would create a new section of KRS Chapter 158 to require that students receive CPR training one time while enrolled in grades 7-12.

BR 462 — An act relating to student assessments.
Filed by Rep. Darryl T. Owens, this act would amend KRS 158.6453 to require that, beginning in the 2017-18 academic year, assessments authorized as part of the state assessment program shall not collectively consume more than 5 percent of any student’s instructional time during a student instructional year.

BR 466 — An act relating to school councils.
Sen. John Schickel sponsored this act, which would amend KRS 160.345 to require the school superintendent or designee to consult with the principal or principal’s designee and the school council when establishing school policy, making personnel decisions, determining instructional materials and student support services; allow a principal vacancy to be filled by the superintendent; require the superintendent to adopt policies to be implemented in the schools; require the superintendent to plan professional development; require the principal or principal’s designee to develop and implement a wellness policy; amend KRS 158.197 to allow the principal or principal’s designee to authorize the display of specific educational materials; amend KRS 158.153, 158.792, and 158.844 to conform.

BR 486 — An act relating to qualified immunity.
Sponsored by Reps. Stan Lee and Kenny Imes, this act would create a new section of KRS Chapter 161 to limit a school official’s civil liability resulting from any act or omission resulting from the supervision, care or discipline of students if undertaken under specific enumerated circumstances; provide that this act does not apply to civil actions filed prior to the effective date of this act.

BR 490 — An act relating to child abuse information in schools.
Rep. Linda Belcher filed this act, which amends KRS 156.095 to require every public school to post the Kentucky child abuse hotline number.

BR 492 — An act relating to insurance coverage of autism spectrum disorders.
An act filed by Rep. Jeff Hoover, this legislation would create a new section of KRS Chapter 304.17A requiring health benefit plans that provide benefits for autism spectrum disorders treatment to provide a liaison to the insured to facilitate communication between the insured and the insurer.

BR 800 — An act relating to districts of innovation.
Sponsored by Rep. Larry Clark, this act amends KRS 160.107 to allow a waiver or modification of the statewide assessment system for schools participating in a district of innovation plan, under specific conditions. It also allows a district of innovation to use student assessments other than those required by the state board, under specific conditions.

BR 817 — An act relating to the posting of historical documents.
Sponsored by Rep. Mike Denham, it would amend KRS 158.194 and KRS 158.195 to require a principal to determine the most efficient manner to produce classroom copies of the Bill of Rights; allow each teacher to choose the placement of the document within the classroom and to remove during assessments.

BR 824 — An act relating to the disclosure of public retirement information.
Filed by Sen. Christian McDaniel this act would amend KRS 61.661, 161.585 and 21.540 to require the disclosure, upon request, of the retirement benefit information of current and former members of the General Assembly, including their name, status and projected or actual retirement benefit payments and benefits of the same from Kentucky Retirement Systems, Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System, Legislators’ Retirement Plan and the Judicial Retirement Plan.

BR 854 — An act relating to student transportation.
Sponsored by Rep. Mike Denham, this act would amend KRS 156.153 to allow local boards of education to authorize the transportation of students in privately owned passenger vehicles under specific circumstances; limit liability when transporting students in a privately owned passenger vehicle; amend KRS 160.310 to set insurance requirements for transporting students in privately owned passenger vehicles; authorize the Kentucky Department of Education to promulgate administrative regulations to provide minimum insurance requirements; and require boards to obtain and record evidence of adequate insurance.

BR 856 — An act relating to nonteaching time for teachers.
Rep. Rita Smart filed this bill, which would amend KRS 158.060 to require that teachers are provided a minimum of 60 minutes per day for nonteaching activities; require that at least 120 minutes per week be used for self-directed activities; specify the types of activities permitted during self-directed time.

BR 900 — An act relating to academic credit for military experience.
This act, sponsored by Rep. Sannie Overly, would amend KRS 164.2951 to require the Council on Postsecondary Education to develop and implement a statewide policy for public postsecondary education institutions to provide academic credit for military service and training for active duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces, Reserves and National Guard as well as veterans of the Armed Forces.

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