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Legislative Update

Education reform was big topic

Overview:
Education reform was once again in the forefront this week. As always, I am grateful and pleased with all of the comments I have received from our community on fixing this issue. We are working hard on both sides of the aisle to make this comprehensive reform bill the best it can be for our students and teachers.

Education Reform Meeting:
Over 1,000 teachers, students and other members of the public had the opportunity to give their input on H. 3759 during the K-12 subcommittee meeting on Tuesday night. The subcommittee, and many other Representatives not on the Education Committee, stayed for the entire five-hour meeting to listen to feedback on different components of the bill. Right now, there are eighty bipartisan co-sponsors on the legislation, each of whom is dedicated to providing students with a quality education that prepares them with the skills they need to succeed. (More on education below.)

Civil Asset Forfeiture:
On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation that would change the way civil forfeiture cases are handled. Right now, law enforcement can seize property from residents, sometimes without charging or convicting them of a crime, and then profit from the proceeds. H. 3968 ensures that no person can lose their property unless they are convicted of a crime.

Tucker Hipps Transparency Act:
The House passed H. 3398 on Wednesday to make the Tucker Hipps Transparency Act permanent. This law requires public institutions of higher education to maintain a report of student misconduct investigations related to fraternity and sorority organizations.

DUI Driving Law:
In an effort to crack down on drunk driving, the House passed a bill that will end a loophole in our current DUI law that allows those charged with drunk driving to get back on the road within days of their arrest. H. 3312 would force DUI offenders to have ignition-interlock devices (breathalyzers) in order to start the engine of their cars. The proposed law unanimously passed second reading and is supported by Governor Henry McMaster and Attorney General Alan Wilson.

Facts on Education Reform:
All teachers will get a raise. The base starting teacher pay will increase to $35,000. All other teachers will receive a raise that will bring them above the Southeastern average with a goal of moving teacher pay to the national average within five years.

The Zero-to-Twenty Committee is not another oversight committee. It will consist of a unique group of individuals – not bureaucrats – who will monitor our education system from pre-kindergarten to post-graduation and make suggestions to the General Assembly on how to improve the education-to-workforce pipeline.

This bill will eliminate four of the six mandated state assessment tests…giving teachers more time for classroom instruction. We will eliminate the 8th grade science test, the 5th and the 7th grade social studies tests and the U.S. History end-of-course test. Doing away with these tests will save an estimated $3.1 million and allow more time for classroom instruction.

This bill allows the elected State Superintendent of Education to remove a principal or teacher as a last resort if, after intensive assistance, a school has chronically underperformed for three of the last four years. Any teacher or principal can be hired back at the discretion of the State Superintendent of Education.

For more information on the education reform bill, check out our fact sheet: www.schousegop.org/more.

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