Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Dust is Settled (For Now).  I've taken a couple of days off to scour through the education articles (Articles 24 through 34) of the 599-page omnibus supplemental appropriations bill.  I outlined the appropriations a couple of days ago, but there is some policy in the bill as well, including changes to testing policy, the addition of a civics test, changes to teacher licensure (and hopes that more will be if the offing), and several provisions dealing with student discipline.  There will be a couple of important working groups meeting over the interim that hopefully will bring reform to teacher licensure (and the creation of a single entity to deal with the issue) and student discipline.  Along with the election, it all adds up to a busy summer.

Process Breakdowns.  I don't know how many of you watched the last night of the legislative session live, but things disintegrated at the end.  It's important to remember this is a human process and when the stakes are high (or at least perceived as high), people are going to push things to the limit (and in this case beyond).  That doesn't mean the process shouldn't be cleaned up.  Given the complicated decision-making process that surrounded the omnibus supplemental budget bill, the Legislature may want to revisit how the budget is assembled in the non-budget year.  And given the time crunch at the end of the session, the Legislature may also want to look at somehow putting tighter deadlines into the joint rules to govern how the end of session unfolds.  Of course, rules can only do so much and given this is an election year with divided government (and a lot of political turmoil nationally) and a fair amount of difference between the parties philosophically, I just think this is how the stars lined up.

We will know in a few weeks whether or not there will be a special session.  Clearly, the Legislature was close on the bonding bill, but one has to ask if that closeness was due to the time constraints the Legislature faced when they crafted the final attempt.  Given the opportunity to step back and re-do both the transportation and bonding bills, things might take on a different hue.  Throw the election into this and it just might be too much to handle if things go on this long and all eyes are focused on one or two bills.

Thanks to All.  I just wanted to close this entry with a hearty thanks to legislators, legislative staff, my fellow lobbyists, SEE members, and all the readers of this blog for the help and support throughout the session.  In the spirit of the music I've been using to sum up things over the past couple of weeks, here we go once again with the great Sam and Dave with the appropriate sentiments.

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