Lame duck 2020 is now in the books. All told, over a dozen education related bills and bill packages that impact education were on the move during this lame duck session. The topics they address cover a range of issues and include new alternative certification path for special education teachers, an update to Michigan's critical shortage law, revised quarantine rules for employees exposed to COVID-19, a state budget supplemental, and more business tax breaks that will negatively impact the School Aid Fund. Most of these will get signed into law, but some may see the Governor's veto pen (looking at you corporate tax breaks).

Here's a final rundown (in no particular order) of the bills that will have the biggest impact on Principals.

MASSP's Lame Duck Watch List

SB 910 (Sen. Roger Victory) - Youth Work Permits
Amends the Youth Employment Standards Act, and removes the requirements that student work permits be applied for in person. It also eliminates the requirement that permits for students under age 16 be printed on different color paper.
Status: This bill is awaiting the governor's signature. 

HB 4694 (Rep. Jim Lilly) - Critical Shortage List
Amends the Public School Employees Retirement Act to allow retirants to serve in critical shortage positions for an indefinite amount of time (currently there is a three year limit) and allows a retirant to serve in a school immediately following their bona fide separation from the district (currently there is a 12 month sit-out period) if the district is operating under an ECOL plan. Practically speaking, this means that school employees are now subject to a 30 day sit out under the new provision since that is the minimum required to establish a bona fide separation. After the pandemic when schools stop operating under ECOL plans, the state mandated 12-month sit out period goes back into effect. The bill also includes a sunset in 2025.
Status: This bill is awaiting the governor's signature.

SB 1246 (Sen. Lana Theis) - Virtual Board Meetings
Allows a meeting of a public body (e.g. a school board) to be held electronically, in whole or in part until March 30, 2021. This is currently permitted, but the law that allows virtual meetings is set to expire on January 1, 2021. This would have posed problems for some local school district boards, which are required to meet monthly and vote to reapprove their ECOL plans for their district to continue to have pupil accounting flexibility for the current school year.
Status: The bill is awaiting the governor's signature.

SB 657 (Sen. Lana Theis) - Alt. Cert for Special Education Teachers
Would expand Michigan's existing alternative teacher certification law to create an alternative path to certification for special education teachers. Currently, special education teachers are expressly excluded from alternative certification. The bill would stipulate that an alternative certification program (just like all other current alternative pathways) would have to align to the same preparation standards as a traditional certification program. As it passed, the new law would sunset after three years.
Status: The bill is awaiting the governor's signature.

HB 5059 (Rep. Bradley Slagh) - ISD Tax Reimbursements
The bill reimburses intermediate school districts for tax revenue that is captured by the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. Currently, revenues for local school districts in a Brownfield are held harmless, but ISDs are not. The School Aid Fund reimburses a local district for school taxes that are captured by the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority through the per-pupil foundation. When ISDs are not reimbursed, this equates to fewer dollars available for special education, career and technical education, and other local programs.
Status: This bill is awaiting the governor's signature.

SB 748 (Sen. Jim Stamas) - Supplemental Budget Bill
Totalling $465 million, the supplemental is exclusively non-education spending (an unemployment extension, small business relief grants, vaccine distribution, etc.). On behalf of our hardworking staff, MASSP was pleased to see that the bill included expanded the COVID-19 hazard pay grants to include teachers who were previously excluded from the hazard pay provisions including those who teach GSRP, Head Start, special education students aged 18-26, and adult education. But we were extremely disappointed that the Michigan Legislature and Governor Whitmer did not recognize the hard work of Principals despite the repeated urging of MASSP and other education organizations. MASSP will continue to advocate on this issue on behalf of Principals in future budget bills.
Status: This bill is awaiting the governor's signature. Remember that, unlike traditional bills, budget bills are subject to line item vetos where the Governor can strike individual spending items without having to shoot down the whole bill. Because the supplemental was negotiated between the Legislature and the Governor, we don't expect any line item vetoes, but it's always possible.

HB 1258 (Sen. Peter MacGregor) - Employee Quarantine Timeline Changes
Amends Public Act 238 which currently requires employees who are close contacts of COVID-19 positive cases to quarantine for 14 days. This bill amends the law to be in alignment with whatever the CDC guidelines are. The most recent CDC guidelines create a path for employees to return to work sooner than 14 days in certain circumstances (view CDC's guidance here).
Status: The bill is awaiting the governor's signature. 

HB 4223 (Rep. Scott VanSingel) - Youth Dental Screening
Amend the state law that requires hearing and vision screening for school aged children to require a parent, guardian, or person in loco parentis applying to have a child registered for the first time in kindergarten or first grade also ensure that a dentist or dental hygienist conducted a dental oral assessment on the child. The requirement would only apply in years when the Legislature appropriated funding to pay for universal dental and oral assessment program (similar to the program currently in place for vision and hearing screenings), a program that is currently in place and funded. The bill also stipulates that no child shall be denied enrollment in school because of this requirement.
Status: The bill is awaiting the governor's signature.

SB 1149 and 1153 (Sen. Pete MacGregor), SB 1150 (Sen. Aric Nesbitt) - Meijer Tax Breaks
These bills give sales, use and personal property tax exemptions to large retailers who install and use automation equipment to assist with their distribution systems and online order processing functions (the bills are written specifically for Michigan retail giant Meijer Corp.). This is yet another example of the Legislature passing bills that affect school revenue without any attempt to shield them from cuts to funding. The sales and use taxes are the largest revenue stream for schools and these bills would reduce existing revenue and limit future growth for the School Aid Fund.
Status: The bill is awaiting the governor's signature or veto. MASSP has joined with a number of other education and local government associations to formally request that the Governor veto the bill. We are hopeful that the Governor will hear our request.

HB 4342 (Rep. Brad Paquette) - Sub Teacher Flexibility
Amend Michigan's substitute teacher law to waive the minimum credit requirement for substitute teachers if the person was a current district employee (i.e. it would allow districts to hire parapros, lunch workers, bus drivers, custodians, etc. to serve as subs). The bill would only apply for the 2020-21 school year and is aimed at addressing substitute teacher shortages.
Status: This bill failed to pass the Legislature and died for the session.