This week brought an unexpected twist. The 2022 Regular Legislative Session was paused and interrupted a Redistricting Veto Override Session. On Monday, the legislature announced that a supermajority of legislators did not return ballots indicating they did not want to hold a veto override session. So, constitutionally a veto override session is called.
At the end of the day on Tuesday, the Regular Legislative Session adjourned, and at noon on Wednesday the Veto Override Session began. While scheduled to go at late as Sunday, the veto ultimately took only a few hours. By the end of the afternoon on Wednesday both the House and the Senate voted to override the Governor’s veto of the new Congressional map.
Ultimately, this matter will be settled in the courts. Lawsuits have already been filed challenging the legitimacy of Louisiana’s Congressional map, as designed by the Louisiana legislature. To learn more about the process and reasoning, click here.
On Monday morning, before the Regular Session was suspended, the Senate Education Committee considered legislation that would impact current and future TRSL retirees:
SB 6 (Price) passed through committee without objection. This legislation would give TRSL retirees a 2% permanent benefit increase (cost of living adjustment). It will still need to pass through the rest of the legislative, but this is an essential step towards securing the first retiree COLA in 6 years!
The Regular Legislative Session will resume on Monday. Legislation that was expected to be heard in House Education this week, was postponed until next week due to the Veto Override Session.
Teacher Approval for SLTs - HB 363 (Bryant)
House Bill 363 will be heard by the House Education Committee on Wednesday, April 6th. If approved, this legislation would force schools to follow current guidelines and actually use mutually agreed upon SLTs instead of one-size-fits-all targets that do not reflect our students' individual needs.
HB 33 (Devillier), HB 194 (Butler), HB 227 (Wright), HB 824 (Schlegel) & HB 838 (Garofalo)
On Wednesday, April 6th the House Committee on Education will hear a litany of bills that seek to increasing the state’s school voucher program. These new funding streams are known as “Education Savings Accounts” (ESAs). Given the easy passage of HB 98 this week, and the wide scope of some of these voucher proposals, this legislation could profoundly impact public education and damage student learning.
Louisiana’s existing school voucher program has failed students. According to a joint investigation by WVUE-TV, NOLA.com, WWNO, Fox 8 and Reveal, two-thirds of all students in the voucher system attended schools where they performed at a “D” or “F” level and not a single school in the voucher program received an A or B. The most recent publication of the EDRE Working Paper series analyzing Louisiana’s Scholarship Program shows that after four years, Louisiana's voucher program had a statistically significant negative impact on students, particularly in math where students’ scored 30% lower than their counterparts in traditional public schools.
These bills aim to take public money, usually an amount equivalent to the per-pupil amount funded in the state MFP, and direct it to alternative “education” programs. The only difference between a traditional voucher and an ESA is that instead of the money going directly from the state to the alternative school, ESA money would go to the family and then to the alternative school or program, with even more wiggle room given to the family. Louisiana's Education Excellence Program shortchanges many students by funding their experience at a school that scores lower than the public school they left. The ESA programs could compound this by creating financial fraud and abuse opportunities that traditional voucher programs did not.
Due Process for Bus Drivers - HB 349 (Bryant)
This legislation will also be on the agenda for the House Education Committee on Wednesday. It would expand due process rights for school bus drivers, giving them the chance to appeal when they are facing disciplinary action in certain circumstances.
Mental Health Support for Educators - HB 356 (Jackson)
Coming soon to the Senate Education Committee, SB 356 by Senator Katrina Jackson would provide for mental health awareness training and care for public school teachers and employees. For too long teacher’s mental health and wellbeing has been overlooked, and this legislation is an important step towards finally offering our educators the care and compassion they deserve.