March Madness isn’t just for college basketball! Activity in Boise has ramped up a bit, as the Legislature scurries to adjourn before Easter.
While there still are numerous bills to receive a hearing, others await committee action or a vote from the House or Senate. This article will focus on legislation that has recently passed both legislative bodies including several key pieces of Gov. Otter’s public education initiative.
• HB 513 — REAL ID Moratorium Repeal (as amended). Originally, there were a number of principled and practical concerns with REAL ID, so the Idaho Transportation Department set about improving Idaho driver’s licenses to try and meet some requirements of REAL ID where possible. Eventually, ITD found it could meet nearly all the REAL ID requirements without infringing upon the liberties of Idahoans…yet the ban on REAL ID compliance in Idaho remained. After the Legislature killed REAL ID compliance again last year, Idahoans were in jeopardy of losing their ability to board airline flights or enter federal facilities with their driver’s licenses. The most recent action taken by Idaho lawmakers on an updated version of REAL ID (HB 513) lifts the moratorium and allows sanity to prevail. Idaho’s compliance means you won’t have to obtain a passport to board domestic flights. Still, a majority of North Idaho legislators opposed the bill.
• HB 357 — Education Tax Credit for STEM Education Fund (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Passed the House last month 66-4 and earned unanimous support from the Senate, now awaits the governor’s signature.
• HB 379 — Computer Science Initiative for public school classrooms for the 2017-2018 school year. This bill was approved by the House, and the Senate approved an amended version sending the bill back to the House for approval. Both times it came through the House, Heather Scott voted “No.” It passed both chambers overwhelmingly — so not included in table below.
• HB 514 — School Safety and Security Act. This is intended to provide a safe and secure educational environment, and ensure periodic security assessments of public educational institutions are conducted and reported.
• HB 526 — Reading Intervention for students in kindergarten through third grade. A reading assessment will help identify struggling readers and qualify them for assistance and intervention. Once funded, each school district will receive monies for every identified child reading below grade level for reading intervention only.
• HB 451 — Requires schools to work with parents and provide notification when kindergarten-third-graders aren’t reading at grade level. Develops an improvement plan for the near 37,000 deficient readers and makes parents full partners in helping the child read proficiently. Annual reports will be required from the State Department of Education to determine if intervention efforts are effective. Approved unanimously by area legislators and a win for Idaho’s children — overwhelming support in both houses so not included in chart below.
As the session enters its final week, activity will reach a fever pitch. We’ll have plenty to report in the next few weeks.
By: Sandy Patano, My Turn, cdapress.com