Take action now!
Two important LFT Action Center campaigns are underway
Please click on the links below and send important messages to members of the Louisiana Legislature!
Click here: Ask the House Education Committee to stop splitting school systems and reducing school funds.
A proposed constitutional amendment would create a new, breakaway school district in East Baton Rouge Parish. Please tell the House Education Committee to vote against SB 299 and SB 563 by Sen. Bodi White (R-Central). The amendment created by these bills would be bad for public schools across the state, as well as in East Baton Rouge Parish.
Recently, the legislature passed a bill (HB 969) allowing individuals and businesses to get tax rebates for donating money to tuition funds for private and religious schools. If it's right to give tax incentives for such gifts to private and religious schools, then it should be right to donate to public schools as well.
Retirement bills stall in legislature
Given the speed at which Gov. Bobby Jindal's education bills sailed through the legislative process, observers are somewhat surprised that his retirement package has slowed to a crawl. One bill that capitol watchers expected to pass easily was subjected to several legislative tricks before being approved by the House.
That bill was HB 61 by Rep. Kevin Pearson (R-Slidell), which would mandate that new members of some state retirement systems enter a "hybrid" cash balance plan instead of a traditional pension plan. It could wind up actually costing the state more money, while reducing the retirement benefits for future state employees.
As a rule, the bill would have required a two-thirds majority vote to pass. But thanks to a ruling by Speaker of the House Chuck Kleckley (R-Lake Charles), a simple majority vote was permitted, despite objections from Rep. Robert Johnson (D-Marksville). Others who attempted to enforce the two-thirds rule were Reps. John Bel Edwards (D-Amite), Rep. Sam Jones (D-Franklin) and Rep. Dorothy Sue Hill (D-Dry Creek).
At one point, Rep. Joe Harrison (R-Gray) introduced an amendment allowing new hires to enter Social Security. At that point, Rep. Pearson returned his bill to the calendar.
The next day, debate began anew and the Social Security amendment was stripped from the bill on a motion by Rep. Joel Robideaux (R-Lafayette). Eleven members switched their votes and supported Rep. Robideaux's amendment, which put HB 61 back in play.
It passed the House by 55-45 after an amendment by Rep. Major Thibault (D-New Roads) was added which said "the division of administration shall conduct a cost benefit analysis of providing an increased pay scale for employees hired on or after July 1, 2013, to provide employees with the opportunity to develop a retirement plan or other investment opportunities in addition to the plan established by this Act."
Status of other controversial retirement bills
HB 61 was one of several bills for which LFT launched an Action Center campaign last week, and which resulted in thousands of messages being sent to lawmakers. Here is the current status of the other bills in that campaign:
The Senate Finance Committee is slated to hear the remaining three bills, all authored by Sen. Guillory.
John White slates virtual town hall meetings
State Superintendent of Education John White will hold a series of virtual town hall meetings as an extension of the meetings currently being held with teachers and administrators around the state.
Those planning to participate in Supt. White's virtual meetings may want more information before logging on. To explain more about the new teacher evaluation plan and how it will affect your salaries and professional rights, the LFT has updated our Value Added Model resource page. Click here to visit the Web page and see some questions you might want to ask Supt. White.
During the 90-minute virtual Town Halls, White will provide an overview of the new teacher evaluation plan and respond to questions submitted via email before and during the live broadcast. The schedule of virtual Town Halls is as follows:
The live broadcast of the Virtual Town Hall Meeting will be accessible online via the agency's website at www.louisianaschools.net. Archived videos of the Town Halls will also be posted to the agency's website.
Questions may be submitted to Superintendent White beforehand, as well as during the live broadcast, by emailing email@example.com.
LFT Weekly Legislative Digest online
Click here to read all of the articles in the LFT Weekly Legislative Digest for the week of April 30-May 4.