Harmful HB1222 Fails, New Version Appears in the Senate and Much, Much More

AEA Lobby Week:  You’re Invited!

You’re invited!

Next week (March 20-22) is AEA Lobby Week.  All AEA members are invited to meet the AEA lobby team at AEA Headquarters at 1500 W. 4th St., in Little Rock, Monday-Wednesday at 8:45 each morning to go over the bills being considered at the Capitol and attend Education Committee meetings at the State Capitol with the lobby team. Questions? Email AEA Director of Public Affairs, Susana O’Daniel: sodaniel@aeanea.org

Yesterday, the Arkansas House of Representatives rejected HB1222 by which seeks to establish a voucher-like program called Education Savings Accounts. The bill had been scaled back earlier in the week when Governor Hutchinson asked the bill sponsor to cap it by making it a 4 year pilot program. As a pilot program, the bill would still allow millions of dollars to be diverted away from the state budget into the pockets of corporate donors. The dollars diverted from our State budget would be sent to private schools with no accountability.  Lawmakers heard from AEA members across Arkansas who expressed strong opposition to this harmful bill. 

This bill would also allow school districts to lose up to 5% of their student population putting many rural school districts at risk. The bill only garnered 37 of the 51 votes needed to pass.  However, the bill sponsor can try to pass the bill again on the House floor as soon as Monday.  

Thursday afternoon, SB746 was amended mirror the exact same language as HB1222. SB746 could be considered in the Senate Education Committee as soon as Monday morning.

ACTION:  It is critically important that all lawmakers who stood strong for public education by voting: no, present or who were nonvoting are thanked as they are effectively no votes.  

How did your lawmaker vote on HB1222?  See the voting record here: http://bit.ly/2mUthyJ

Please contact the lawmakers voting no, present or who were nonvoting and thank them for standing strong for public schools by rejecting HB1222. 

Also this week, Rep. Jana Della Rosa (R) Rogers, passed HB1608 out of the House Education Committee.  This bill provides the Arkansas Department of Education with guidance as our state begins to finalize Arkansas’s state plan under the few federal law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, better known as ESSA. AEA worked with Rep. Della Rosa to include a menu of multiple measures for school accountability. We anticipate a much more comprehensive school accountability bill to be amended with substantive language in the coming weeks. 

The House recessed late Friday and the Senate recessed late Thursday. Both chambers plan to convene again on Monday. As always, AEA is at the Capitol every day the legislature meets advocating for public school educators and public education.  

See below for a full summary of bills AEA is tracking including: bills that are now law, teacher retirement bills and shell bills AKA place holder bills that do not yet have substantive language. 

Don’t forget to utilize our tools to advocate for public education

As the legislative session heads into its final week, it's even more important than ever that you familiarize yourself with AEA's Educator's Guide to the Capitol:  Creating the Schools Our Students DeserveIt includes information on how to contact legislators, tips on how to be an effective advocate, education committee membership and a guide to the Capitol. Bring it with you to our Lobby Week!

Remember, you may call and leave a message for your lawmakers by calling:  

501-682-6211 for your House Representative, or

501-682-2902 for your Senator. 

These messages are easy and can be a very effective form of advocacy. Legislators receive a stack of phone messages on their desk about various bills.

Bills AEA is Tracking

BILLS THAT HAVE ALREADY BECOME LAW THIS SESSION

HB1208 TO ALLOW A STUDENT WHO ATTENDS A PRIVATE SCHOOL OR A HOME SCHOOL TO ENROLL IN AN ACADEMIC COURSE WITHIN THE PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

Summary: Allows public school districts to adopt policies authorizing private-schooled or home-schooled children in the public school's district to enroll in limited numbers of classes at the public school

Bill Sponsor: Rep. Mark Lowery (R) Maumelle

Status: This bill was signed into law and is now Act 173.

HB1002 TO REGULATE EQUIPMENT REQUIRED FOR SCHOOL BUSES; TO REQUIRE THAT CERTAIN SCHOOL BUSES BE EQUIPPED WITH SEAT BELTS; AND TO ENFORCE THE USE OF SEAT BELTS ON SCHOOL BUSES EQUIPPED WITH SEAT BELTS.

Summary: This bill seeks to require new school buses purchased on or after Jan.1 2018 to be equipped with seat belts or restraint systems. Exceptions include physical disability, medical reasons, or emergency situations. The bill would also allow a school district to implement a disciplinary policy to enforce seatbelt use.  It also allows for the school district to seek a local property tax increase to purchase, install or maintain seatbelts if 10% of the school district's qualified electors sign a petition to do so.

Bill Sponsor: Rep. Mark McElroy (D) Tillar

Status: This bill has become law and is now Act 375. 

HB1019 TO AMEND THE MEMBERSHIP OF THE SCHOOL LEADERSHIP COORDINATING COUNCIL.

Summary:  This bill adds 2 members to the School Leadership Coordinating Council.  The two additional members proposed are the Chair of the House Education Committee and the Chair of the Senate Education Committee.  It also allows these 2 legislative members to be paid per diem and mileage as members of the General Assembly.

Bill sponsor:  Rep Bruce Cozart (R) Hot Springs

Status:  This bill has become law and is now Act 344. 

HB1154 AN ACT TO REQUIRE THAT ANY INCREASES IN PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FUNDING EACH SCHOOL YEAR BE USED FOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITIES; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

Summary: Requires the Department of Education to use any additional funding that is over the required amount for teacher professional development for the development and administration of professional learning communities.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Bruce Cozart (R) Hot Springs

Status: This is now law and has become Act 427.

HB1155 AN ACT TO AMEND THE MINIMUM TEACHER COMPENSATION SCHEDULE; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

Summary: Raises the salaries included in all categories of the Teacher Minimum Compensation Schedule by $400.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Bruce Cozart (R) Hot Springs

Status:  This bill has been signed into law and is now Act 246.  

HB1144  AN ACT TO ALLOW THE INSTALLATION AND OPERATION OF AN AUTOMATED SCHOOL BUS SAFETY CAMERA; TO USE A PHOTOGRAPH OR VIDEO AS EVIDENCE OF CERTAIN TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES

Summary:  Allows public school districts or open enrollment charter schools to install automated school bus safety cameras to automatically record vehicles illegally passing a school bus.

Bill sponsor: Rep. McElroy (D) Tillar

Status: This bill has become law and is now Act 398. 

HB1303  AN ACT TO AMEND PROVISIONS IN THE ARKANSAS CODE REGARDING THE TEACHER OPPORTUNITY PROGRAM; TO PRIORITIZE THE AWARDING OF FUNDS TO TEACHERS FOR ADDITIONAL EDUCATION IN CERTAIN FIELDS; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES

Summary: Prioritizes funding from the Teacher Opportunity Program to go to teachers seeking additional education in STEM fields, computer science, literacy, pre-K, or special education.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Charlotte Douglas (R) Alma

Status:  This bill was signed into law last week by the Governor. It is now Act160.

HB1307 CONCERNING THE PAYMENT BY THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OF HEALTH INSURANCE CONTRIBUTIONS FOR PARTICIPANTS IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOL EMPLOYEES' HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM

Summary: Requires the health insurance contributions made by the Department of Education to take place in equal monthly installments rather than 11; increases the Department's transfer from $35 million to $55 million.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Jim Sorvillo (R) Little Rock

Status:  This bill has become law and is now Act 298.

HB1415 AN ACT TO MAKE TECHNICAL CORRECTIONS TO TITLE 6 OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING EDUCATION

Summary: This bill makes technical corrections to the education code.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Matthew Shepard (R) El Dorado

Status: This bill has become law and is now Act 275. 

HB1424 TO AMEND THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING THE TEACHER EXCELLENCE AND SUPPORT SYSTEM; AND TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING ADMINISTRATOR EVALUATION

Summary: Amends various provisions of TESS.

Bill sponsor: DeAnn Vaught (R) Horatio

Status: This bill became law this week and is now Act 295.

HB1425 CONCERNING THE LICENSURE OF TEACHERS AND ADMINISTRATORS AND LICENSURE EXCEPTIONS; TO AUTHORIZE A TIERED LICENSURE SYSTEM; AND TO ALLOW DISTRICTS TO BASE COMPENSATION ON LICENSURE LEVELS

Summary: Establishes expanded criteria for teacher licensure, creates additional available licenses and provides for a tiered teacher licensure system

Bill Sponsor: DeAnn Vaught (R) Horatio

Status: This bill became law this week and is now Act 294.

HB1435 TO REQUIRE PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND OPEN-ENROLLMENT CHARTER SCHOOLS TO POST THE CHILD ABUSE HOTLINE TELEPHONE NUMBER.

Summary: Requires schools to post the Child Abuse Hotline number in a clearly visible location on their premises as well as in all bathrooms in a manner that allows a student to privately access the information.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Clarke Tucker (D) Little Rock

Status: This bill has become law and is now Act 379.

HB1461 TO EXPAND THE NUMBER OF PRIVATE SCHOOLS ELIGIBLE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE SUCCEED SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM

Summary: Expands eligibility for private schools that have not earned accreditation to receive a voucher for students on an IEP.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Carlton Wing (R) North Little Rock

Status: This bill is now Act 327.

SB319 AN ACT FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION - DIVISION OF PUBLIC SCHOOL ACADEMIC FACILITIES AND TRANSPORTATION - FOR FUND TRANSFER FOR USE IN PROGRAMS GENERAL IMPROVEMENT APPROPRIATION

Summary: Appropriates $100 million to the Dept. of Education-Division of Public School Academic Facilities and Transportation from General Improvement Funds for grants.

Bill sponsor: Joint Budget Committee

Status: This bill is now law.  It is Act 319.

SB321 AN ACT FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION - VARIOUS CAPITAL PROJECTS APPROPRIATION

Summary: Appropriates $10 million to the Dept. of Education from the General Improvement Fund for various capital projects.

Bill sponsor: Joint Budget Committee

Status: This bill passed the House and Senate and is now Act 220.

SB328 TO REQUIRE A PERSON TO APPLY FOR A K-6 TEACHING LICENSE OR A SPECIAL EDUCATION K-12 TEACHING LICENSE TO SUCCESSFULLY PASS A STAND-ALONE READING TEST AND A MULTI-SUBJECT TEST AS A CONDITION OF LICENSURE

Summary: Requires the State Board of Education to test applicants for first-time licensure for elementary education K-6 and for special education K-12, in subject matter content, pedagogy, and knowledge of beginning reading instruction.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Alan Clark (R) Lonsdale

Status: This bill is now law.  Act 416. 

HB1442 TO CREATE THE PERSONAL FINANCE AND JOB READINESS ACT

Summary: Amends personal finance curriculum standards to include job seeking skills, soft job skills, and employment benefits; requires high school students to earn a course credit under this curriculum for graduation.

Bill sponsor: Andy Davis (R) Little Rock

Status: This bill was signed into law by the Governor and is now Act 480

SB303 TO ESTABLISH ENHANCED TRANSPORTATION FUNDING FOR PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICTS; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY

Summary: Distributes enhanced transportation funding to certain school districts for the 2016-17 school year, in various amounts of up to $76,273

Bill Sponsor: Sen. Eddie Cheatham (D) Crossett

Status: This bill was signed into law this week and is now Act 445.   

HB1539 TO REQUIRE THE PASSAGE OF THE CIVICS PORTION OF THE NATURALIZATION TEST USED BY UNITED STATES CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES BEFORE A STUDENT MAY RECEIVE A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA OR HIGH SCHOOL EQUIVALENCY DIPLOMA

Summary: Would require high school students pass a civics test identical to the civics portion of the naturalization test used by US Citizenship and Immigration Services in order to receive a high school diploma or its equivalent. This bill was amended this week to exclude education programs for those in a state corrections facility, someone seeking a GED or a student on an IEP.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Bruce Cozart (R) Hot Springs

Status:  This bill was signed into law this week and is now Act 478.  

HB1589 CONCERNING THE APPLICABILITY OF CERTAIN ETHICS LAWS TO MEMBERS OF SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARDS OF DIRECTORS; AND AMENDING PORTIONS OF ARKANSAS LAW RESULTING FROM INITIATED ACT 1 OF 1988

Summary: Includes school board members in the ethics law under the definition of public official.  Prohibits legislators who are members of a school board from appearing for compensation on behalf of the board.

Bill sponsor: Rep. DeAnn Vaught (R) Horatio

Status: This bill was signed by the Governor this week and is now Act 449. 

BILLS THAT REMAIN ACTIVE THIS SESSION

HB1781 TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF TITLE 6 OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING PUBLIC EDUCATION.

Summary: Requires a school district to pay ½ of the remediation costs incurred by an institution of higher education providing a student with remedial education in a subject if the student received a B or better in the subject while in high school. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Mark Lowrey (R) Maumelle

Status: This bill has been referred to the House Education Committee. 

SB587 TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF TITLE 6 OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING READING PROFICIENCY OF PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS.

Summary: This bill requires public school district have a reading intervention program for grades K-3 and makes promotion to the next grade dependent on demonstration of appropriate reading skills at grade 3. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Alan Clark (R) Lonsdale 

Status: Referred to Senate Education Committee 

HB1937  TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF TITLE 6 OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING THE BEGINNING OF THE SCHOOL YEAR

Summary: This bill changes the guideline for the opening of public school year to on or after the Tuesday of the week in which Labor Day is observed.  Prohibits public school years from extending beyond the Friday before Memorial Day, except for make-up days.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Mark Lowery (R) Maumelle

Status: Referred to the House Education Committee

HB2052 TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING SCHOOLS OF INNOVATION

Summary: Requires schools seeking a ‘school of innovation’ designation to demonstrate implementation of research-based professional learning communities throughout the school. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Bruce Cozart (R) Hot Springs

Status: Referred to House Education Committee 

SB662 TO ALLOW CERTAIN YOUTH GROUPS TO USE PUBLIC SCHOOL BUILDINGS OR PROPERTY TO PROVIDE SERVICES AT TIMES OTHER THAN INSTRUCTIONAL TIME

Summary:  Requires schools to allow access during school hours for recruitment activities conducted by representatives of a youth group that is a patriotic organization, as defined in federal code, such as the Boy Scouts.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Jake Files (R) Ft. Smith

Status: Introduced into Senate Education Committee 

SB708 TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING DYSLEXIA SCREENING AND INTERVENTION IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES

Summary: Requires school districts to complete dyslexia screening of each student in grades k-2 by November 15 of each school year; requires districts to report on dyslexia intervention programs and their results on their websites by March 15 each year. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Joyce Elliott (D) Little Rock

Status: Referred to Senate Education Committee

SB723 TO AMEND THE LAW CONCERNING THE DATES FOR CERTAIN SPECIAL ELECTIONS; AND TO PROMOTE VOTER TURNOUT

Summary: Requires the date of a called special election be filed at least 75 days prior to that date if called in a year in which there is a primary or general election, be held with one of those.  Excepts special elections.  

Bill sponsor: Sen. Dave Wallace (R) 

Status: Referred to Senate State Agencies Committee

HB2101 CONCERNING HOME-SCHOOLED STUDENTS PARTICIPATING IN PUBLIC SCHOOL GRADUATION CEREMONIES

Summary: This bill requires schools to include home-schooled children in graduation exercises upon request. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Tim Lemons (R) Cabot 

Status:  Referred to House Education Committee 

HB1044 TO ALLOW A STUDENT TO CHOOSE WHICH GRADE IN WHICH TO TAKE THE COLLEGE AND CAREER READINESS ASSESSMENT.

Summary: This bill allows a student to decide to take a college and career readiness assessment in either the tenth or eleventh grade. Currently, the law states that any school serving students 10-12th grade must administer this exam before a student graduates from high school.

Bill sponsor: RepFred Allen (D) Little Rock

Status: This bill has been placed on the active agenda for House Education Committee.

SB27 TO INCREASE THE NUMBER OF TEACHERS IN A CRITICAL TEACHER SHORTAGE AREA; AND TO ESTABLISH THE TEACHER CANDIDATE LOAN FORGIVENESS PROGRAM.

Summary: This bill offers $5,000 a year for up to 3 years for students in a degree program that leads to becoming eligible for licensure in a high-needs subject area as identified by ADE.  Program participants must teach in a geographic area identified by ADE as a critical teacher shortage area beginning immediately upon obtaining licensure.  Participants must repay the loans if they fail to meet these obligations. 
Bill sponsor: Sen. Alan Clark (R) Lonsdale

Status: This bill cleared the Senate this week and remains on the House Education Committee’s agenda.

HB1014 TO CREATE THE TEACHER'S CLASSROOM INVESTMENT DEDUCTION.

Summary: This bill creates a tax deduction for certain items purchased by a teacher for classroom use.

Bill sponsor:  Rep. Greg Leding (D) Fayetteville

Status:  This bill passed the House Revenue and Taxation Committee this week and also cleared the full House.  The bill has now been referred to the Senate Revenue and Tax Committee. 

HB1029 TO EXCLUDE PRINCIPALS, ASSISTANT PRINCIPALS, AND CENTRAL OFFICE EMPLOYEES WITH A MULTIYEAR EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT FROM THE DEFINITION OF "TEACHER" UNDER THE TEACHER FAIR DISMISSAL ACT OF 1983.

Summary: This bill seeks to exclude central office staff, principals and assistant principals with a multiyear contract from the definition of teacher under the Teacher Fair Dismissal Act.

Bill sponsor:  Rep. Mark Lowrey (R) Maumelle. 

Status:  This bill remains on the House Education Committee's deferred agenda.

SB26 TO INCREASE TEACHERS IN HIGH NEEDS SUBJECT AREAS; AND TO PROVIDE ENHANCED ARKANSAS ACADEMIC CHALLENGE SCHOLARSHIPS FOR TEACHERS WHO AGREE TO TEACH IN THE HIGH NEEDS SUBJECT AREAS.

Summary: This bill seeks to allow for a student who has already received the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship to receive an enhanced award of $5,000 if the recipient is classified as a junior, another enhanced award of $5,000 if the recipient is classified as a senior, maintains a GPA of 3.25, is enrolled in a teacher education program and agrees to teach in a high-needs subject area as determined by ADE for a minimum of 5 years.  The total amount cannot exceed $10,000.  The recipient must repay the amount if they do not seek licensure in a high-needs subject area and begin employment in the high needs subject area in the recipient's first year after licensure.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Alan Clark (R) Lonsdale. 

Status:  This bill remains on the House Education Committee’s agenda.

HB1017 TO ALLOW THE TEACHER FAIR DISMISSAL ACT OF 1983 TO BE WAIVED IF A PUBLIC SCHOOL OR PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT IS UNDER STATE AUTHORITY AFTER BEING CLASSIFIED AS BEING IN DISTRESS.

Summary:  This bill seeks to waive the Teacher Fair Dismissal Act for school districts that have been taken over by the State for academic or fiscal distress.

Bill Sponsor:  Bruce Cozart (R) Hot Springs.

Status:  This bill remains on the House Education Committee's deferred agenda.

HB1027

TO PROHIBIT A SCHOOL DISTRICT FROM USING PUBLIC FUNDS TO PAY A TEACHER'S OR CLASSIFIED EMPLOYEE'S MEMBERSHIP DUES IN A PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATION.

Summary:  This bill seeks to ensure that public school funds are not used to pay any teacher, classified employee or superintendent's dues for their professional association.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Jon Eubanks, (R) Paris

Status: This bill remains on the deferred agenda in the House Education Committee

SB12 TO ESTABLISH THAT EMERGENCY OR SECURITY RECORDS OR OTHER INFORMATION FOR A PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT, PUBLIC SCHOOL, OR STATE-SUPPORTED INSTITUTION OF HIGHER EDUCATION IS EXEMPT FROM THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT OF 1967 

Summary:  This bill seeks to exempt public school and state institutions of higher ed security plans and related documents from FOIA .

Bill sponsor: Gary Stubblefield (R) Branch

Status: This bill is on the Governor’s desk for his approval. 

SB112 TO ALLOW AN INCOME TAX DEDUCTION FOR QUALIFYING EDUCATION EXPENSES.

Summary:  Creates an income tax deduction for homeschool expenses, private school tuition and expenses and required public school expenses for items such as uniforms, textbooks, instructional materials and supplies.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Jane English (R) North Little Rock

Status:  This bill remains on the Senate Revenue and Tax Committee agenda.

HB1222 THE ARKANSAS PARENTAL EMPOWERMENT FOR EDUCATION CHOICE ACT OF 2017

Summary: Creates an income tax credit for donations to nonprofits that distribute education savings accounts to parents for use against the cost of tuition, tutoring, services and related costs of attending nonpublic schools, and higher education institutions.  This is effectively a voucher bill.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Jim Dotson (R) Bentonville

Status: This bill was amended this week to make it a 4 year pilot program.  It passed the House Education Committee but failed on the floor of the House late Thursday afternoon.  The bill can be heard again next week.* See full update at the top of this legislative update. 

HB1408  AN ACT CONCERNING WHO MAY SERVE AS A PROCTOR OF A TEST OR ASSESSMENT ADMINISTERED UNDER THE ARKANSAS COMPREHENSIVE TESTING, ASSESSMENT, AND ACCOUNTABILITY PROGRAM

Summary: Prohibits a relative or guardian of a student taking a comprehensive assessment from proctoring that examination.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Charlotte Douglas (R) Alma

Status: This bill has been assigned to the House Education Committee.

HB1417 CONCERNING THE OFFENSE OF SEXUAL SOLICITATION; PROVIDING FOR IMPOUNDMENT OF A MOTOR VEHICLE; AND PROVIDING FOR HUMAN TRAFFICKING AWARENESS EDUCATION FOR EDUCATORS

Summary: Allows a police department to impound the motor vehicle of a person arrested for sexual solicitation; requires a $500 fee to release the vehicle from impoundment, requires school districts to make 30 mins of professional development available to recognize warning signs of human trafficking and identify victims of human trafficking.

Bill sponsor: Rep. James Sturch (R) Batesville

Status: This bill passed the House this week and has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

SB156  AN ACT TO MAKE AN APPROPRIATION FOR PERSONAL SERVICES AND OPERATING EXPENSES FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 2018; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

Summary: Appropriates funds to the Department of Education for operations.

Bill sponsor: Joint Budget Committee

Status: This bill has been referred to the Joint Budget Committee.

SB168 AN ACT FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION - GRANTS AND AID TO LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND SPECIAL PROGRAMS APPROPRIATION FOR THE 2017-2018 FISCAL YEAR.

Summary: Appropriates funds to the Department of Education for grants and aid to local school districts and special programs

Bill sponsor: Joint Budget Committee

Status: This bill remains on the Joint Budget Committee's agenda. 

SB179 TO ALLOW REINSTATEMENT OF A REVOKED EDUCATOR'S LICENSE UPON A SHOWING OF REHABILITATION AND FITNESS TO PERFORM THE DUTIES AUTHORIZED BY THE LICENSE

Summary: Allows the holder of a revoked teaching license to request a hearing before the State Board of Education and present evidence of rehabilitation and fitness to hold a reinstated license.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Joyce Elliott (D) Little Rock

Status: This bill remains on the Senate Education Committee’s agenda.

SB587 TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF TITLE 6 OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING READING PROFICIENCY OF PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS.

Summary: This bill requires public school district have a reading intervention program for grades K-3 and makes promotion to the next grade dependent on demonstration of appropriate reading skills at grade 3. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Alan Clark (R) Lonsdale 

Status: Referred to Senate Education Committee 

HB1456  TO ALLOW A SCHOOL DISTRICT TO WAIVE PHYSICAL EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS FOR A STUDENT WHO PROVIDES PROOF OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY; AND TO EXEMPT A STUDENT WITH A PHYSICAL EDUCATION WAIVER FROM PHYSICAL EDUCATION GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS

Summary: Creates a waiver that exempts a student from a school district's physical education requirements with a written form from the student's legal guardians that the student participates in physical activity equal to the district's requirements outside of school.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Charlotte Douglas (R) Alma

Status: This bill has been referred to the House Education Committee

HB1457 TO ALLOW A PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT AND AN OPEN-ENROLLMENT PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL TO DEVELOP A PLAN FOR THE USE OF AN ALTERNATIVE METHOD OF INSTRUCTION TO BE USED ON DAYS WHEN SCHOOL IS CANCELLED

Summary: Authorizes school districts or charter schools to develop and implement pilot programs for alternate instruction methods to be used on days when school is closed due to inclement weather or other circumstances.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Charlotte Douglas (R) Alma

Status: This bill passed the House this week and heads to the Senate Education Committee. 

HB1458 TO REQUIRE A STUDENT TO PARTICIPATE IN VISUAL ARTS OR PERFORMING ARTS IN EITHER GRADE SEVEN OR GRADE EIGHT

Summary:  Changes the arts class credit requirements for students in grades 7 and 8, requiring students to take one performing arts or visual arts class over the two grade years rather than participating during both grade years.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Charlotte Douglas (R) Alma

Status: This bill has been referred to the House Education Committee

HB1459 TO PROVIDE FLEXIBILITY IN THE AWARDING OF COURSE CREDITS; AND TO ALLOW A PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT TO DEVELOP AND IMPLEMENT A PLAN THAT ENABLES A STUDENT TO EARN COURSE CREDITS BY DEMONSTRATING SUBJECT MATTER COMPETENCY

Summary: Allows a school district to develop plans for the issue of high school course credit based on demonstration of competency in a subject without completing hours of classroom instruction.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Charlotte Douglas (R) Alma

Status: This bill passed the House this week and has now been referred to the Senate Education Committee. 

HB1474 CONCERNING THE PARTICIPATION OF HOME-SCHOOLED STUDENTS IN INTERSCHOLASTIC ACTIVITIES.

Summary: Authorizes home-school students to receive approval to participate in interscholastic activities of public schools of a district in which the student does not reside.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Mark Lowrey (R) Maumelle

Status: This bill passed the Senate this week and has been sent to the Governor for approval. 

HB1509 TO CREATE THE SUDDEN CARDIAC ARREST PREVENTION ACT

Summary: Requires school districts to develop procedures for training staff in first aid technique related to sudden cardiac arrest, in conjunction with the Dept. of Health; requires coaches to receive professional development.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Greg Leding (D) Fayetteville

Status: This bill has been referred to the Senate Education Committee. 

HB1516 CONCERNING SCHOOL NURSING; TO ESTABLISH SCHOOL NURSE-TO-STUDENT RATIOS; AND TO REQUIRE AN ANNUAL SCHOOL NURSE SURVEY.

Summary: Requires at least one school nurse at each public school campus, encourages higher nurse-to-student ratio for school districts, and authorizes use of national school lunch categorical funds to maintain those ratios.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Andy Mayberry (R) Hensley

Status: This bill failed to pass the House last week and has not advanced.

SB274 TO REVISE THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH A PUBLIC SCHOOL OR PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT THAT HAS BEEN TAKEN OVER BY THE STATE FOR BEING IN ACADEMIC DISTRESS CAN BE RETURNED TO LOCAL CONTROL; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY

Summary: Provides the State Board of Education with the authority to return a district to local control, or deny return to local control, based on the best interest of the school or the district.  Deletes requirement that "all" issues be resolved.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Joyce Elliott (D) Little Rock

Status: This bill has been referred to the House Education Committee. 

SB308 TO GRANT PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOLS A RIGHT OF ACCESS TO UNUSED OR UNDERUTILIZED PUBLIC SCHOOL FACILITIES.

Summary: Grants public charter schools access to unused or underutilized facilities of public schools; creates a leasing process by which a charter school may lease such facilities.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Alan Clark (R) Lonsdale

Status: This bill is on the Governor’s desk for his signature. 

HB1517  CONCERNING SCHOOL NURSING AND TO MODIFY THE REQUIREMENTS FOR A SCHOOL NURSE

Summary: Requires school districts to use a school nursing performance evaluation rubric developed by the Department of Education when conducting annual evaluations of school nurses; encourages minimum standards for school nurse supervisors.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Andy Mayberry (R) Hensley

Status: This bill has been referred to the House Education Committee

HB1523 CONCERNING THE TRAINING OF MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF A PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT

HB1552 TO ALTER THE REQUIREMENTS FOR A LIFETIME TEACHING LICENSE

Summary: Allows teachers who have retired, eligible for a life time teacher's license; repeals professional development hour requirements for lifetime teaching license holders.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Ron McNair (R) Alpena

Status: This bill passed the full Senate this week and heads to the Governor’s desk for his approval. 

HB1567  TO MAKE FOSTER CHILDREN ELIGIBLE FOR A SCHOLARSHIP IN THE SUCCEED SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY

Summary: This bill seeks to expand the voucher program called the 'Succeed Scholarship Program' to include children in foster care to be eligible to take public funds into private, unaccountable schools. It was amended to cap foster care student participation at 20 students. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Kim Hammer (R) Benton

Status: This bill passed the House this week and heads to the Senate Education Committee. 

HB1781 TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF TITLE 6 OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING PUBLIC EDUCATION.

Summary: Requires a school district to pay ½ of the remediation costs incurred by an institution of higher education providing a student with remedial education in a subject if the student received a b or better in the subject while in high school. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Mark Lowrey (R) Maumelle

Status: This bill has been referred to the House Education Committee. 

 HB1575 TO LIMIT THE AMOUNT OF FUND BALANCES A SCHOOL DISTRICT MAY MAINTAIN

Summary:  Establishes a maximum net legal balance for public schools of 20% of the public school district's current year net legal balance revenues, and requires schools exceeding that balance to transfer the excess funds to the school's building fund.

Bill sponsor:  Rep. Mark Lowery (R) Maumelle

Status: This bill passed the House Education Committee this week.

HB1576 TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF THE ACADEMIC FACILITIES PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM CONCERNING APPROVED BUT UNFUNDED NEW CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS.

Summary: Requires a school district construction project that is approved but not funded during a funding cycle have its approval and priority carried over into subsequent funding cycles until it is funded.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Charlotte Douglas (R) Alma

Status: This bill passed the House this week.

HB1579 TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR PUBLIC SCHOOL EDUCATORS AND EMPLOYEES.

Summary: Authorizes the state, for purposes of educational licensing, to submit fingerprint records to the federal Next Generation Identification system and to participate in programs that provide notifications of arrest subsequent to background checks.

Bill sponsor: Rep. DeAnn Vaught (R) Horatio

Status: This bill passed the House this week and now heads to the Senate Education Committee. 

HB1583 TO CREATE RECALL ELECTIONS FOR MEMBERS OF SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARDS OF DIRECTORS; AND TO AMEND THE LAW CONCERNING SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARDS OF DIRECTORS.

Summary: This bill seeks to create a process for holding a recall election for school board members; establishes requirements for a petition to call such an election, including the signatures of 35% of the office's qualified electors.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Jim Dotson (R) Bentonville

Status: This bill has been referred to the House Education Committee.

SB329 TO RAISE THE PRICE THRESHOLD FOR THE PURCHASE OF COMMODITIES THAT SCHOOL DISTRICTS MUST PROCURE BY SOLICITING BIDS; AND TO PROVIDE FOR ANNUAL ADJUSTMENTS IN THE PURCHASE PRICE THRESHOLD BASED ON INFLATION

Summary: Increases the threshold for school district commodity purchases that require solicitation of bids from $10K to $20K; requires the Education Commissioner to adjust the amount annually according to the change in the Consumer Price Index.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Alan Clark (R) Lonsdale

Status: This bill is on the House Education Committee’s agenda for consideration.

SB 337 TO REPEAL THE ACADEMIC FACILITIES EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES PROGRAM.

Summary: Repeals the Academic Facilities Extraordinary Circumstances Program, which allowed state funds to be allocated to public school districts and facilities for facility repair and maintenance that might not otherwise be eligible to receive state funding.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Bart Hester (R) Cave Springs

Status: This bill is on the House Education Committee’s agenda.

HB1591 TO AMEND THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING THE PROFESSIONAL LICENSURE STANDARDS BOARD

Summary: Expands the professional Licensing Standards Board membership, makes various changes to the Board's duties with regard to teacher education programs and teacher licensure

Bill sponsor: Rep. DeAnn Vaught (R) Horatio

Status: This bill passed the Senate this week and heads to the Governor for his approval.  

HB1597 AN ACT FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND ITS VARIOUS DIVISIONS REAPPROPRIATION

Summary: Reappropriates funds to the Department of Education from various funds for grant payments, initiatives, operations, infrastructure maintenance, archiving, and other various projects.

Bill sponsor: Joint Budget Committee

Status: This bill has been referred to the Joint Budget Committee.

HB1607 TO LIMIT THE USE OF AN ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNER'S SCORE ON A STATE-MANDATED ASSESSMENT FOR PUBLIC SCHOOL AND PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT ACCOUNTABILITY PURPOSES

Summary: Changes how state-mandated assessment scores for English language learner students are counted for growth or achievement purposes in school accountability ratings, depending on the amount of the student has been enrolled in the US.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Jana Della Rosa (R) Rogers

Status: This bill passed the House this week and now heads to the Senate Education Committee. 

HB1608 CONCERNING THE ACCOUNTABILITY SYSTEM DEVELOPED BY THE STATE OF ARKANSAS UNDER THE EVERY STUDENT SUCCEEDS ACT

Summary: Establishes specific requirements and criteria for any state accountability system for schools grades K-12

Bill sponsor: Rep. Jana Della Rosa (R) Rogers

Status: Passed House Education Committee this week.  Heads to the House floor.

HB1610 TO PROVIDE ARKANSAS BETTER CHANCE PROGRAMS LOCATED WITHIN A SCHOOL DISTRICT FUNDING EQUAL TO THE FOUNDATION FUNDING AMOUNT FOR EACH EARLY GRADUATE OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT

Summary: Establishes extra funding in the amount equal to a student's foundation funding amount to be provided to the local Better Chance early childhood program for each student who graduates early, before grade 12.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Clarke Tucker (D) Little Rock

Status: Referred to House Education Committee

HB1611 CONCERNING THE BASIC LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Summary: Repeals the $25 per day fine for violation of the rule requiring English to be the basic language of instruction in public schools.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Clarke Tucker (D) Little Rock

Status: This bill passed the House this week and heads to the Senate Education Committee. 

HB1612  TO AMEND THE LAW CONCERNING REQUIRED NOTIFICATIONS TO A PROSECUTING AUTHORITY REGARDING A STUDENT'S UNEXCUSED ABSENCES

Summary: Authorizes school districts or adult education programs to notify the prosecuting authority when a student exceeds 50 percent of unexcused absences allowed, rather than a mandatory notification when the student exceeds 100 percent.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Laurie Rushing (R) Hot Springs

Status: This bill failed in the House Education Committee last week on a voice vote. 

HB1621 TO CHANGE THE DATE OF THE ANNUAL SCHOOL ELECTION

Summary: Allows the date of annual school elections to be on the date of the preferential primary election.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Mark Lowery (R) Maumelle

Status: This bill passed the House today and now heads to the Senate Education Committee. 

HB1627 TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENT ATTENDANCE

Summary: Repeals the mandatory requirement that students in grades 9 through 12 physically attend a full school day consisting of 350 minutes of planned instructional time each day.

Bill sponsor: Rep. James Sturch (R) Batesville

Status: This bill has been referred to the Senate Education Committee. 

HB1632  TO REQUIRE VERIFICATION OF INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THE PETITION OR NOTICE OF WRITE-IN CANDIDACY OF A CANDIDATE FOR A POSITION ON THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF A PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT

Summary: Requires that a candidate petition for write-in status as a candidate for school board of directors have their information verified by the county clerk before their petition is accepted.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Charlotte Douglas (R) Alma

Status: This bill passed the Senate last week and is on the Governor’s desk. 

HB1640  TO ALLOW A STUDENT TO CHOOSE IN WHICH GRADE TO TAKE THE ACT UNDER THE VOLUNTARY UNIVERSAL ACT ASSESSMENT PROGRAM

Summary: Authorizes the ACT Assessment Program to provide students with the opportunity to take the ACT Assessment in grade 12.  Requires the district to continue to allow students to choose to take the ACT in grade 10 or 11.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Fred Allen (D) Little Rock

Status: This bill passed the Senate this week and heads to the Governor’s desk for his approval. 

HB1646 TO AMEND VARIOUS PROVISIONS OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING PUBLIC EDUCATION

Summary: Makes various changes in public education provisions, including repeal of sections that define the structure of the Dept. of Education and sections setting student progress tracking plan requirements; establishes an unsafe School Choice Program.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Bruce Cozart (R) Hot Springs

Status: This bill passed the House this week and has been referred to the Senate Education Committee. 

HB1648 TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING PUBLIC SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY

Summary: Repeals accreditation reviews for public schools every 4 years, instead requiring such reviews to happen for schools identified as being at high risk of failing to meet the standards or when the Dept. of Education deems necessary; amends reporting requirements for findings of such reviews.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Charlotte Douglas (R) Alma

Status: This bill has been referred to the Senate Education Committee. 

HB1671 TO GIVE CHARTER SCHOOLS AUTHORITY TO WEIGHT ADMISSION LOTTERIES AT THEIR DISCRETION.

Summary: Authorizes charter schools to weight admissions lotteries in favor of national school lunch act eligible students, English language learners, students with disabilities and students who are currently enrolled in schools classified as being in academic distress.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Clarke Tucker (D) Little Rock

Status: This bill is on the agenda in the House Education Committee. 

HB1672 CONCERNING ADMISSIONS POLICIES OF CHARTER SCHOOLS; AND TO ALIGN CHARTER SCHOOL ADMISSIONS REQUIREMENTS FOR A STUDENT WHO HAS BEEN EXPELLED FROM ANOTHER SCHOOL DISTRICT WITH ADMISSIONS REQUIREMENTS FOR SCHOOL DISTRICTS.

Summary: Requires the process for a charter school's exclusion of a student who has been expelled from another public school district to be the same as the process for public schools.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Clarke Tucker (D) Little Rock

Status: This bill is on the agenda in the House Education Committee

HB1673 CONCERNING APPLICATIONS FOR OR AMENDMENTS OF PUBLIC CHARTERS UNDER THE ARKANSAS QUALITY CHARTER SCHOOLS ACT OF 2013.

Summary: Prohibits an application for a new charter school or an amendment to an existing charter from being approved if the charter is to be located in a district that is currently under the authority of the State Board or Commissioner of Education.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Clarke Tucker (D) Little Rock

Status: This bill is on the agenda in the House Education Committee

HB1674 TO CREATE A COMMUNITY PUBLIC EDUCATION BOARD.

Summary: Authorizes the creation of community public education boards when at least 10% of a district's eligible students are enrolled in public charter schools; authorizes boards to review and reverse any authorizing decisions of the charter school panel.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Clarke Tucker (D) Little Rock

Status: This bill is on the agenda in the House Education Committee

SB371 TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING PUBLIC SCHOOL INTER-DISTRICT STUDENT TRANSFERS

Summary: Allows a child of a parent who relocates within the state due to the parent's mobilization as an Armed Forces members to attend school in either district; restricts prohibitions on student transfers to schools currently under desegregation orders.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Alan Clark (R) Londsdale  

Status: This bill is on the agenda in the Senate Education Committee.

SB372  TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOL CHOICE ACT OF 2015; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY

Summary: Requires that in order for a school to exempt itself from transfers under the School Choice Act, the district submit proof that a desegregation order is still active and provide specific language the district believes limits its participation.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Alan Clark (R) Londsdale 

Status: This bill has been referred to the House Education Committee. 

SB423 TO AMEND PROVISIONS IN THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION

Summary: Requires the Department of Career Education to develop a list of third-party, industry-recognized technical skills assessments that it has reviewed and approved for use.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Uvalde Lindsey (D) Fayetteville

Status: This bill passed the House this week and heads to the Governor for his approval.  

SB437 TO REQUIRE LEGISLATIVE REVIEW OF EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITY ORGANIZATIONS THAT RECEIVE FUNDS FROM A PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT AS A CONDITION OF RECEIVING THOSE FUNDS

Summary: Makes any extracurricular activity organization subject to annual audit and review by Legislative Audit and the Legislative Council as a condition of the receipt of public funds.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson (R) Little Rock

Status: This bill has been assigned to the Senate Education Committee. 

HB1689 TO AMEND PROVISIONS CONCERNING PUBLIC SCHOOL FUNDING AND INDEBTEDNESS; TO AMEND FUNDING PROVISIONS CONCERNING PUBLIC EMPLOYEE HEALTH INSURANCE; AND TO AMEND PROVISIONS CONCERNING EDUCATION SERVICE COOPERATIVE FINANCING.

Summary: Makes numerous changes to school funding and reporting provisions; authorizes an education cooperative to borrow from the revolving loan fund; includes minimum health insurance contribution in the definition of ‘local contribution rate.

 Bill sponsor: Rep. Bruce Cozart (R) Hot Springs

Status: This bill passed the House this week and heads to the Senate Education Committee for consideration. 

HB1695

Summary: Appropriates $750k to the Department of Education from the Department of Education Public School Fund Account for operations of the Arkansas Imagination Library.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Mark Lowery (R) Maumelle 

Status: Referred to Joint Budget Committee 

HB1699 AN ACT FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION-PUBLIC SCHOOL FUND - ARKANSAS BETTER CHANCE PROGRAM APPROPRIATION FOR THE 2017-2018 FISCAL YEAR.

Summary: Appropriates $20M to the Department of Education from the Department of Education Public School Fund Account for the Arkansas Better Chance PreK Program.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Clarke Tucker (D) Little Rock

Status: Referred to Joint Budget Committee 

HB1710 TO REVISE THE CIVICS AND WORLD HISTORY REQUIREMENTS TO GRADUATE FROM HIGH SCHOOL

Summary: Requires that a student in grade 11 earn 1 unit of civics and ½ unit of world history for graduation; requires civics courses to include instruction in the Federalist Papers, the Constitution, the Northwest Ordinance, and the Declaration of Independence. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Stephen Meeks (R) Greenbriar 

Status: This bill passed the House this week and has been referred to the Senate Education Committee for consideration.

HB1729 TO AMEND VARIOUS PROVISIONS OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING PUBLIC SCHOOL FUNDING AMOUNTS; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY.

Summary: Increases school foundation funding amount by $67 to $6,713 per student for the 17/18 school year.  Increases the other per-student funding amounts.  Creates a table of enhanced transportation funding showing amounts by district. 

Bill sponsor:  Rep. Bruce Cozart (R) Hot Springs

Status: This bill passed the House this week and head to the Senate Education Committee for approval. 

HB1738 CONCERNING ETHICS OF MEMBERS OF A BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF A PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT; AND TO CREATE THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS ETHICS REVIEW BOARD

Summary: Establishes a School District Board of Directors Ethics Review Board to establish a code of ethics, procedures, and recommendations for enforcement for members of the boards of directors of public schools. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Charlotte Douglas (R) Alma

Status: Referred to House Education Committee

HB1820 CONCERNING SCHOOL DISTRICT WAIVERS; TO REQUIRE THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION TO GRANT A SCHOOL DISTRICT WAIVER PETITION IF AN OPEN-ENROLLMENT PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL DRAWING STUDENTS FROM THE SCHOOL DISTRICT WAS GRANTED A WAIVER.

Summary: Extremely problematic bill that seeks to rapidly push waivers for educational standards through the State Board of Education.  This bill effectively expands the troubling Act1240 waiver bill that allows teacher certification, class size and other critical educational standards to be waived. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Jim Dotson

Status:  This bill has been referred to the House Education Committee

HB1831 TO ALLOW AN OPEN-ENROLLMENT PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL TO USE A WEIGHTED LOTTERY IN ITS ADMISSIONS PROCESS BASED ON CERTAIN STUDENT CHARACTERISTICS.

Summary: Allows open-enrollment charter schools to engage in a weighted enrollment lottery that gives preference to various disadvantaged students, including national school lunch eligible students, English Language Learners, students with disabilities, and others. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Greg Leding (D) Fayetteville

Status: This bill has been referred to the House Education Committee

HB1834 TO PROHIBIT A PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT OR OPEN-ENROLLMENT PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL FROM INCLUDING IN ITS CURRICULUM OR COURSE MATERIALS FOR A PROGRAM OF STUDY BOOKS OR ANY OTHER MATERIAL AUTHORED BY OR CONCERNING HOWARD ZINN.

Summary: Prohibits a public school district or charter school from including any material authored by or concerning Howard Zinn in its curriculum. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Kim Hendren (R) Gravette

Status: This bill has been referred to the House Education Committee

HB1856 TO ESTABLISH THE ARKANSAS EARLY LITERACY ASSESSMENT PROCUREMENT ACT.

Summary: Requires the creation of a list of up to 3 formative assessments for schools to use in evaluation the reading development of K-2nd grade students; requires schools to periodically administer an assessment from the list. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Fred Allen (D) Little Rock 

Status: This bill has been referred to the House Education Committee

HB1905 CONCERNING DELAY OF OPENING OR EARLY RELEASE OF SCHOOL.

Summary: Authorizes schools to delay school or release early due to contagious disease outbreak or utility outage. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Charlotte Douglas (R) Alma 

Status: This bill passed the House this week and has been referred to the Senate Education Committee.

HB1907 TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING THE ACADEMIC FACILITIES PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM

Summary: Requires the allocation of at least $10M for new construction projects in the warm, safe and, dry systems category for purposes of the Academic Facilities Partnership Program. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Charlotte Douglas (R) Alma

Status: This bill passed the House this week and heads to the Senate Education Committee. 

SB442 TO CLARIFY THAT ALL PUBLIC SCHOOL BUILDINGS ARE EXEMPT FROM TAXATION.

Summary: Specifies that all public school buildings, including those used by both public school districts and open-enrollment public charter schools, are exempt from taxation. 

Bill sponsor:  Sen. Jim Hendren (R) Gravette 

Status: This bill passed the Senate Education Committee this week and heads to the full Senate. 

SB443 TO ALLOW A STUDENT TO RECEIVE HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION CREDIT FOR COMPLETING BASIC TRAINING IN THE MILITARY BEFORE GRADUATING FROM HIGH SCHOOL.

Summary: Awards 2 units of career focused graduation credits to a student who enlists in the military in an early entry program and completes basic training. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Trent Garner (R) El Dorado 

Status: This bill passed the Senate this week and has been referred to the House Education Committee.

SB452 AN ACT FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION - OPEN-ENROLLMENT PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL FACILITIES FUNDING AID PROGRAM APPROPRIATION FOR THE 2017-2018 FISCAL YEAR.

Summary:  Appropriates $5M to the Department of Education for charter school facilities. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Jim Hendren (R) Gravette

Status: Referred to the Joint Budget Committee 

SB484 AN ACT FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF HIGHER EDUCATION TEACHER CANDIDATE LOAN FORGIVENESS PROGRAM APPROPRIATION FOR THE 2017-2018 FISCAL YEAR.

Summary: Appropriates funds to the Department of Higher Education from the Higher Education Grants Fund Account for the teacher candidate loan forgiveness program. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Alan Clark (R) Lonsdale 

Status: Referred to the Joint Budget Committee.

SB490 AN ACT FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF HIGHER EDUCATION - ENHANCED SCHOLARSHIPS OF THE ARKANSAS ACADEMIC CHALLENGE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM APPROPRIATION FOR THE 2017-2018 FISCAL YEAR.

Summary: Appropriates $5M to the Department of Higher Education from the Higher Education Grants Fund Account for enhanced scholarship of the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship Program. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Alan Clark (R) Lonsdale 

Status: Referred to the Joint Budget Committee.

SB494 TO REQUIRE A PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT TO REPORT TO THE PARENT OR LEGAL GUARDIAN OF EACH STUDENT THE READING LEVEL OF THE STUDENT.

Summary: Requires public school districts to make annual reports to parents of students in grades K-8 on the student’s achievement level in reading.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Alan Clark (R) Lonsdale 

Status: Referred to Senate Education Committee. 

SB502 TO CREATE THE RIGHT TO READ ACT.

Summary: Creates a proficiency requirement in scientific reading instruction for teacher licensure, beginning in the 2021-2022 school year for elementary and 2022-23 for others, with related professional development beginning in the 2018-19 school year. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Joyce Elliott (D) Little Rock 

Status: Referred to Senate Education Committee

SB504  TO AMEND THE DATE OF AN ANNUAL SCHOOL ELECTION.

Summary: Limits the date of the annual school election to the date of the general election in November. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Jane English (R) North Little Rock 

Status: Referred to the Senate Education Committee 

SB509 TO REQUIRE THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION TO STUDY THE EFFECTS OF A TAKEOVER OF A SCHOOL OR DISTRICT; AND TO ESTABLISH A MINIMUM NUMBER OF STUDENTS WHO FALL BELOW ACHIEVEMENT LEVELS IN ORDER TO TAKE OVER A SCHOOL OR DISTRICT.

Summary: Prohibits the State Board of Commissioner of Education from assuming authority over a district unless at least 40 percent of the students are below academic proficiency.  Requires community impact statement and social indicators study. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Joyce Elliott (D) Little Rock 

Status: Referred to Senate Education Committee

SB518 TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING SPECIAL EDUCATION.

Summary: Repeals provisions that governed the State Board of Education’s responsibilities with regard to special needs students; requires all local educational agencies to ensure that all disabled children within their jurisdictions have educational access. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Blake Johnson (R) Corning 

Status: This bill has been referred to the House Education Committee for consideration.  

SB549  TO EXTEND THE AMOUNT OF RECESS TIME REQUIRED FOR ELEMENTARY STUDENTS; AND TO AMEND THE AMOUNT OF INSTRUCTIONAL TIME REQUIRED FOR ELEMENTARY STUDENTS IN A SCHOOL DAY.

Summary: Increases required physical education and recess time for students in 

kindergarten through 4th grade; lowers total required instructional time for k-4 students and grade 5-6 students. This bill will more than double the burden on

teachers for non-teaching tasks by adding 80 minutes of the current cap of 60 minutes of duty time for a total of 140 minutes. This bill also dramatically increases the demand on teachers which is likely to deprive them of the opportunity to properly prepare for student learning.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Gary Stubblefield (R) Branch

Status: This bill passed the Senate Education Committee.  AEA continues to work with the bill sponsor about how this bill’s implementation. It now goes to the full Senate.

SB555 TO MODIFY INCENTIVE BONUSES FOR NATIONAL BOARD FOR PROFESSIONAL TEACHING STANDARDS CERTIFICATION.

Summary:  Increases the annual incentive bonus to $5k for national board certification and limits the number of years it is paid to ten years.  Removes speech language pathologists from eligibility for NBCT bonuses and ties yearly incentive bonus dollars to employment in high-poverty schools. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Alan Clark (R) Lonsdale 

Status: This bill was heavily amended this week and passed the Senate Education Committee this week. It now goes to the full Senate. 

SB570 TO REPEAL THE REQUIREMENT THAT A PUBLIC SCHOOL OR SCHOOL DISTRICT PROVIDE A DUTY-FREE LUNCH PERIOD FOR FULL-TIME NONEXEMPT CLASSIFIED EMPLOYEES.

Summary: Repeals requirement to combine two 15 minute breaks for non classified employees to receive a duty free lunch.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Linda Chesterfield (D) Little Rock 

Status: This bill is on the agenda in the House Education Committee 

SB609 TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF TITLE 6 OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING DISCIPLINE OF STUDENTS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

Summary: Prohibits school districts from use of out-of-school suspension or expulsion for students grade K-5, with exception for situations posing physical risk to the student or to others for serious disruption that cannot be otherwise addressed. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Joyce Elliott (D) Little Rock 

Status: This bill passed the Senate this week and was referred to House Education Committee 

SB610  TO ELIMINATE CORPORAL PUNISHMENT IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Summary: Prohibits the use of corporal punishment by school personnel as a student disciplinary measure.  Deletes the immunity from liability for teachers and school administrators for use of corporal punishment. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Joyce Elliott (D) Little Rock 

Status: This bill failed to pass the Senate Education Committee this week. 

HB1925 TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING PUBLIC SCHOOL ACADEMIC FACILITY REVIEW CONFERENCES.

Summary: Increases from 60 to 120 days prior to the application deadline the period in which a district may request an academic review conference and have it scheduled within a 90 days of the request.  Makes changes to conference procedures. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Charlotte Douglas (R) Alma 

Status: Referred to the House Education Committee 

HB1924 TO ADD THE CLASSIC LEARNING TEST AS AN ALLOWABLE COLLEGE ENTRY EXAMINATION FOR THE PURPOSE OF RECEIVING SCHOLARSHIPS.

Summary: Authorizes the use of the Classic Learning Test (CLT) score for purposes of qualifying for college scholarships.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Charlotte Douglas (R) Alma

Status: Referred to the House Education Committee

HB1929 TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING THE ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SCHOOL ACADEMIC FACILITIES

Summary: Revises membership of the Advisory Committee on Public School Academic Facilities and provides all members of the committee be appointed by the Commission for Public School Academic Facilities and Transportation. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Bruce Cozart (R) Hot Springs  

Status: This bill passed the House this week and now heads to the Senate Education Committee 

HB1936 TO REVISE THE ACADEMIC FACILITIES WEALTH INDEX

Summary: Amends the formula for determining a school district’s Academic facilities Wealth Index. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Mark Lowery (R) Maumelle

Status: Referred to the House Education Committee

HB2028 ACT TO PROVIDE GRADUATES OF AN ARKANSAS HIGH SCHOOL EQUAL OPPORTUNITY TO RECEIVE IN-STATE TUITION AND OTHER FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE BENEFITS AT A STATE-SUPPORTED INSTITUTION OF HIGHER EDUCATION

Summary: Requires state-supported colleges and universities to charge in-state tuition for students who attend high school in Arkansas for at least 3 years and either graduated or received a high school equivalency diploma.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Warwick Sabin (D) Little Rock 

Status: Referred to the House Education Committee

SB691 TO ADD TEACHERS IN KINDERGARTEN THROUGH GRADE SIX (K-6) AS TEACHERS ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE ADDITIONAL COMPENSATION FOR VOLUNTEERING TO TEACH MORE THAN THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF STUDENTS PERMITTED

Summary: Provides that teachers for grades K-12 are eligible to receive additional compensation for volunteering to teach more than the maximum number of students permitted per day. Previous law only applied to teachers in grades 7-12.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Alan Clark (R) Lonsdale

Status:  Referred to Senate Education Committee 

SB660 TO RESTORE RIGHTS OF ARKANSANS TO CARRY FIREARMS IN PUBLIC PLACES

Summary: Repeals various provisions regulating the carry of firearms including possession on school property, in public buildings, on State Capitol grounds; carrying with unlawful intent; amends provisions related to possession on prison premises.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Linda Collins Smith (R) Pocahontas

Status: Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee

HB2261 TO REQUIRE THE PASSAGE OF THE CIVICS PORTION OF THE NATURALIZATION TEST USED BY UNITED STATES CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES BEFORE A PERSON MAY BE ELIGIBLE TO SERVE AS A CONSTITUTIONAL OFFICER OF THIS STATE

Summary: Requires a person to pass a civics test identical to the civics portion of the naturalization test used by US Citizenship and Immigration Services in order to serve as a constitutional officer.

Bill sponsor: Rep. John Walker (D) Little Rock

Status: Referred to the House Committee on State Agencies 

HB2260 TO REQUIRE THE PASSAGE OF THE CIVICS PORTION OF THE NATURALIZATION TEST USED BY UNITED STATES CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES BEFORE A PERSON MAY BE ELIGIBLE TO SERVE AS A DIRECTOR OR HEAD OF A STATE AGENCY

Summary: Requires a person to pass a civics test identical to the civics portion of the naturalization test used by US Citizenship and Immigration Services in order to serve as director of a state agency. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. John Walker (D) Little Rock

Status: Referred to the House Committee on State Agencies 

HB2259 TO REQUIRE THE PASSAGE OF THE CIVICS PORTION OF THE NATURALIZATION TEST USED BY UNITED STATES CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES BEFORE A MEMBER OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY MAY VOTE FOR OR AGAINST A BILL OR RESOLUTION

Summary: Requires members of the General Assembly to pass a civics test identical to the civics portion of the naturalization test used by US Citizenship and Immigration Services in order to be able to vote on legislation. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. John Walker (D) Little Rock

Status: Referred to the House Committee on State Agencies 

SB746 TO ESTABLISH THE PARENTAL CHOICE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM

Summary: Creates an income tax credit for donations to nonprofits that distribute education savings accounts to parents for use against the cost of tuition, tutoring, services and related costs of attending nonpublic schools, and higher education institutions.  This is effectively a voucher bill.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Bart Hester (R) Cave Springs 

Status: Referred to Senate Education Committee 

HB2117 TO REQUIRE CAMERAS IN CERTAIN CONTAINED SPECIAL EDUCATION CLASSROOMS UPON REQUEST

Summary: Allows a school employee, parent, or board of directors member to request a school district provide a camera to use in a self-contained special education classroom that contains a nonverbal student; restricts the use of such cameras to student safety. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Jim Sorvillo (R) Little Rock 

Status: Referred to the House Education Committee 

SB712 TO REQUIRE SCHOOL TRANSPARENCY

Summary: Requires schools that receive state funds to comply with FOIA, to disclose details of its admissions lottery and its associated demographics, the school’s full budget and its sources of private funding. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Joyce Elliott (D) Little Rock

Status: Referred to Senate Education Committee 

SB713 TO REQUIRE A SCHOOL THAT RECEIVES STATE FUNDS TO DISCLOSE INFORMATION CONCERNING ANY WAIVERS FROM STATE LAWS OR STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION RULES RECEIVED BY THE SCHOOL

Summary: Requires schools which receive state funds to present evidence of necessity when requesting a waiver from state laws or State Board of Education rules and to continue presenting evidence of the necessity of a waiver every three years.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Joyce Elliott (D) Little Rock

Status: Referred to Senate Education Committee

SB710 TO REQUIRE MEETINGS OF THE GOVERNING BOARDS OF A SCHOOL THAT RECEIVES STATE FUNDS TO BE OPEN MEETINGS

Summary: Requires meetings of governing boards of schools that receive state funding to be open public meetings under the FOIA, including with regard to notice. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Joyce Elliott (D) Little Rock

Status: Referred to the Senate Education Committee

SB711 TO REQUIRE MEETINGS OF THE GOVERNING BOARDS OF A SCHOOL THAT RECEIVES STATE FUNDS TO BE OPEN MEETINGS

Summary:  Requires schools which receive state funds to present evidence of necessity when requesting a waiver form state laws or State Board of Education rules and to continue presenting evidence of the necessity of a waiver every three years.  

Bill sponsor: Sen. Joyce Elliott (D) Little Rock

Status: Referred to the Senate Education Committee

TEACHER RETIREMENT BILLS

ATRS Package Bills are as Follows:

SB141 TO MODIFY THE FINAL AVERAGE SALARY CALCULATION METHOD UNDER THE ARKANSAS TEACHER RETIREMENT SYSTEM; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY.

Summary: Adjusts the anti-spiking formula used to calculate retirement benefits. The bill is designed to create more fairness in calculating the benefit formula.  The bill seeks to curb large benefit increases resulting from large salary increases among the highest earners, such as superintendents.  Most educators will not be impacted by this bill.

Bill sponsor: Sen. John Cooper (R) 

Status: Passed through the Senate and currently on the House calendar.

SB142 TO PROVIDE FOR AN EMPLOYEE EVALUATION OF AN INTERNAL AUDITOR OF THE ARKANSAS TEACHER RETIREMENT SYSTEM.

Summary: Allows the ATRS Board Audit Committee to perform the annual evaluation of Internal Auditor.

Bill sponsor: Sen. John Cooper (R) 

Status: Signed by the Governor, now Act 127 of 2017.

SB184  AN ACT TO MODIFY THE METHOD USED TO SET THE TEACHER DEFERRED RETIREMENT OPTION PLAN INTEREST RATE; TO ALLOW BALANCE TRANSFERS BETWEEN RECIPROCAL SYSTEMS; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY.

Summary: Adjusts T-Drop interest rates and the authorization of transfers of Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) balances between reciprocal retirement systems with varying DROP periods. The bill is designed to encourage educators to continue working and delay retirement while participating in two DROP plans.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Bart Hester (R) 

Status: Referred to Joint Retirement Committee

SB185  TO MODIFY BUYOUT PLANS FOR INACTIVE MEMBERS OF THE ARKANSAS TEACHER RETIREMENT SYSTEM; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY.

Summary: CASH program modifications and expansions and CASH program benefit designation for certain inactive vested members who are not presently working and have fewer than 15 years of service credit. This is not mandatory, but an option for the board to protect the financial strength of the system and benefit career educators. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Bart Hester (R) 

Status: Passed through the Senate and currently on the House calendar.

SB186 TO AMEND THE LAW CONCERNING THE ADJUSTMENT OF THE MULTIPLIER RATE UNDER THE ARKANSAS TEACHER RETIREMENT SYSTEM; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY.

Summary: Benefit multiplier adjustment for future service credit. Multipliers which have already been earned by an educator will not be impacted. Once a member has earned a multiplier, the law prevents the multiplier from being taken away.  The bill was amended this week to specify that the board may modify the multipliers on future years if the system is above an 18 year amortization period.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Bart Hester (R) 

Status: Submitted to the Governor for enactment.

SB187  TO AMEND THE LAW ON CONTRIBUTION RATE ADJUSTMENTS BY THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE ARKANSAS TEACHER RETIREMENT SYSTEM; TO PERMIT CONTRIBUTION RATE ADJUSTMENTS BASED ON ACTUARIAL SOUNDNESS; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY.

Summary: To allow the employee contribution rate to be adjusted, if needed. The bill is designed to give the board the ability to reduce the amortization period for the retirement system for the financial strength and long term health of the system.  The bill was amended this week to make adjustments permissive for the board above an 18 year amortization period.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Bart Hester (R) 

Status: Submitted to the Governor for enactment.

SB192  TO ALLOW MEMBERS WITH RECIPROCAL SERVICE TO RETIRE UPON A DETERMINATION OF DISABILITY; TO AMEND DISABILITY RETIREMENT PROCEDURES; TO ENCOURAGE DISABILITY RETIREES TO RETURN TO EMPLOYMENT; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY.

Summary: Disability retirees allowed to file another disability application with ATRS if 

Social Security denies disability benefits; disability retirees may return to work full-time/part–time, revert to last benefit if unable to continue working; disability retirement to include reciprocal service credit for vesting purposes.  The bill does four things. First it will help prevent a disability retiree's loss of ATRS disability by allowing a review by the ATRS' medical committee within three months of disability benefits ceasing due to the lack of a Social Security Administration favorable disability determination letter. Second, the bill would allow a disability retiree to work and also receive monthly disability benefits if he or she works less than forty days during a fiscal year or works more than 40 days but the work is substantially different than the work the member did when retiring because of disability and has a computed salary that is less than the final average salary used to compute the monthly disability benefit. Third, the bill encourages a disability retiree to try to return to work on a full time basis by not exposing the educator to a loss of income through COLA’s during the time the educator returns to work. Fourth, this bill would also recognize all reciprocal service credit with another Arkansas public retirement system to be counted for vesting purposes for disability retirement. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Eddie Cheatham (D) 

Status: Submitted to the Governor for enactment.

SB193  TO PROVIDE SERVICE CREDIT FOR UNUSED SICK LEAVE TO CERTAIN MEMBERS OF THE ARKANSAS TEACHER RETIREMENT SYSTEM; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY.

Summary: Accrued sick leave to count as service credit if death of an active member occurs.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Eddie Cheatham (D) 

Status: Signed by the Governor, now Act 200 of 2017.

SB194   TO AMEND THE LAW CONCERNING THE DETERMINATION OF SURVIVOR BENEFIT ELIGIBILITY UNDER THE ARKANSAS TEACHER RETIREMENT SYSTEM; TO PRORATE CERTAIN SURVIVOR BENEFITS; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY.

Summary: Allows survivor benefits to use reciprocal service credit for vesting purposes, prorate benefits in correlation of years of service, and allow a 6-month period after a survivor application is filed to submit all requested documents to ATRS.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Eddie Cheatham (D) 

Status: Signed by the Governor, now Act 505 of 2017.

SB203  TO PROHIBIT THE INCLUSION OF TERMS REQUIRING A MEMBER'S RETIREMENT FROM THE ARKANSAS TEACHER RETIREMENT SYSTEM IN CONTRACT BUYOUT PLANS; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY.

Summary: Employer early separation incentive programs may not compel a member to file for retirement with ATRS.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Bill Sample (R) 

Status: Signed by the Governor, now Act 503 of 2017.

SB205 TO PROVIDE MEMBERS OF THE ARKANSAS TEACHER RETIREMENT SYSTEM WITH THE OPTION TO WAIVE CONCURRENT SERVICE CREDIT; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY.

Summary: Allows members with concurrent reciprocal service to waive ATRS service credit and choose the other system. Presently the law requires that persons with concurrent service opt-in to ATRS. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Bill Sample (R) 

Status: Passed through the Senate, currently on the House calendar.

SB218  TO AMEND THE LAW CONCERNING THE MODIFICATION OF AN EMPLOYER'S CONTRIBUTION RATE UNDER THE ARKANSAS TEACHER RETIREMENT SYSTEM; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY.

Summary: Modifies the employer contribution rate to allow an adjustment even if ATRS is below a 30 year amortization period, if needed. The bill is designed to give the board the ability to reduce the amortization period for the retirement system for the financial strength and long term health of the system.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson (R) 

Status: Referred to Joint Retirement Committee.

SB233   TO PROHIBIT PENSION ADVANCES UNDER THE ARKANSAS TEACHER RETIREMENT SYSTEM; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY.

Summary: Protects members by prohibiting pension advance companies from obtaining a retiree's benefit to repay a loan.

Bill sponsor: Sen. R Caldwell (R) 

Status: Signed by the Governor, now Act 199 of 2017.

HB1286    TO AMEND THE LAW CONCERNING EARLY VOLUNTARY RETIREMENT REDUCTIONS UNDER THE ARKANSAS TEACHER RETIREMENT SYSTEM;AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY.

Summary: Provides authority for ATRS to adjust early voluntary retirement reductions and early T-DROP participation reductions. This bill would allow the board the ability to protect the actuarial soundness of the system and place more of the costs of T-DROP on people who benefit from the program.  The bill does not impact any current T-DROP participants.

Bill sponsor: Rep. J Rye (R) 

Status: Referred to Joint Retirement Committee.

HB1287   TO PROVIDE CERTAIN EMPLOYERS WITH THE OPTION TO PAY A SURCHARGE FOR OUTSOURCED EMPLOYEES IN LIEU OF MEMBERSHIP IN THE ARKANSAS TEACHER RETIREMENT SYSTEM; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY.

Summary: Allows ATRS employers that outsource a service common to the normal daily operation of the employer to choose whether to make outsourced employees become members of ATRS or alternatively, to pay a surcharge on the outsourced employees' salaries. As reported last week, the bill has been amended for the purpose of permitting educators working with the Department of Youth Services to participate in ATRS on the same basis as any other educator.

Bill sponsor: Rep. J Rye (R) 

Status: Submitted to the Governor for enactment.

HB1304    TO AMEND THE DEFINITION OF "ARKANSAS TEACHER RETIREMENT SYSTEM"; TO DEFINE "COVERED EMPLOYER"; TO AMEND THE REQUIREMENTS FOR VOLUNTARY RETIREMENT; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY.

Summary: Makes minor changes in the wording of existing laws to clarify language and intent of laws affecting ATRS while not making changes to how laws are used or implemented. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Maddox (R) 

Status: Signed by the Governor, now Act 293 of 2017.

HB1305   TO ALLOW MEMBERS OF THE ARKANSAS TEACHER RETIREMENT SYSTEM TO DESIGNATE ONE OR MORE RESIDUAL BENEFICIARIES; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY.

Summary: Allows spousal survivor benefit rights to be redirected by member, if specifically designated by the member to another person.  Currently the law would pass retirement automatically to a surviving spouse.  The law now permits the educator to designate another beneficiary if they choose.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Maddox (R) 

Status: Signed by the Governor, now Act 243 of 2017.

HB1365 TO AMEND THE LAW ON CONTRIBUTIONS MADE TO THE ARKANSAS TEACHER RETIREMENT SYSTEM FOR SETTLEMENTS AND JUDGMENTS; TO ALLOW THE PURCHASE OF SALARY OR SERVICE CREDIT USING ACTUARIAL COSTS; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY.

Summary: Allows settlement agreements to include purchased annuity, discontinue adding settlement amounts to member, and can add air time or value of future benefits. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Coleman (R) 

Status: Signed by the Governor, now Act 463 of 2017.

HB1373  TO AMEND THE LAW CONCERNING THE APPLICATION AND ADJUSTMENT OF BENEFIT STIPENDS UNDER THE ARKANSAS TEACHER RETIREMENT SYSTEM; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY.

Summary: Allows benefit stipend adjustments and removal from benefit base, if needed. This bill permits greater flexibility for the board, composed of educators, to make adjustments to the stipend to preserve the long term financial strength of the retirement system. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Gary Deffenbaugh (R) 

Status: Referred to Joint Retirement Committee.

HB1374   TO AMEND THE LAW CONCERNING THE COMPOUNDED COST OF LIVING ADJUSTMENT UNDER THE ARKANSAS TEACHER RETIREMENT SYSTEM; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY. 

Summary: Allows the reversal of the 2009 compounding of the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), if needed.  The bill is proposed to maintain the financial strength of the retirement system and has provisions to prevent the reduction of benefits to any educator.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Gary Deffenbaugh (R) 

Status: Referred to Joint Retirement Committee.

Non ATRS Package Bills are as Follows:

HB1290  TO REQUIRE THE ARKANSAS TEACHER RETIREMENT SYSTEM TO CORRECT AN ERROR THAT UNDERSTATES THE SERVICE CREDIT OF A MEMBER; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY.

Summary: Protects educators against clerical errors by an employer or the retirement system which would deprive them from receiving retirement credit for their years of service. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Tosh (R) 

Status: Signed by the Governor, now Act 241 of 2017.

HB1327   TO AMEND THE LAW CONCERNING THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE ARKANSAS TEACHER RETIREMENT SYSTEM.

Summary: This is a shell bill with no substantive legislation included and no action taken. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Doug House (R) 

Status: Referred to Joint Retirement Committee.

 

HB1328   TO AMEND THE LAW CONCERNING THE INVESTMENT PRACTICES OF THE ARKANSAS TEACHER RETIREMENT SYSTEM.

Summary:  The bill sponsor amended this shell bill on Monday of this week.  Since the amendment is so brief, I have included the complete language of the bill for your review.  A decision on whether to invest, not invest, or withdraw from investment the funds of the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System or an alternate retirement plan of the system shall not be based on a consideration that the location of the investment, fund, company, or any other type of investment vehicle is in the State of Israel.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Doug House (R) 

Status: Referred to Joint Retirement Committee.

 

HB1329  TO AMEND THE LAW CONCERNING BENEFIT PAYMENTS UNDER THE ARKANSAS TEACHER RETIREMENT SYSTEM.

Summary: This is a shell bill with no substantive legislation included and no action taken. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Doug House (R) 

Status: Referred to Joint Retirement Committee.

 

HB1330  TO AMEND THE LAW CONCERNING THE ACCOUNTING AND AUDITING PRACTICES OF THE ARKANSAS TEACHER RETIREMENT SYSTEM. 

Summary: This is a shell bill with no substantive legislation included and no action taken. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Doug House (R) 

Status: Referred to Joint Retirement Committee.

 

HB1333  TO AMEND THE LAW CONCERNING THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE ARKANSAS TEACHER RETIREMENT SYSTEM.

Summary: This is a shell bill with no substantive legislation included and no action taken. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Doug House (R) 

Status: Referred to Joint Retirement Committee.

 

HB1336  TO PROVIDE FOR THE FORFEITURE OF BENEFITS UNDER A PUBLIC RETIREMENT SYSTEM BY CERTAIN PERSONS.

Summary: This bill was heavily and significantly amended on Monday of this week.  Under the amendment, the bill operates like a “slayer statute” where a beneficiary is prohibited from receiving any benefit through an ATRS member or retirant upon conviction of the murder or wrongful death of the ATRS member or retirant.  The bill bans a person from receiving a benefit from ATRS after they have done harm to the educator. The bill has been amended to expand to include all the retirement systems.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Tosh (R) 

Status: Referred to Joint Retirement Committee.

 

HB1355  TO MAKE TECHNICAL CORRECTIONS TO TITLE 24 OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING RETIREMENT AND PENSIONS.

Summary: HB1355 is merely a technical corrections bill which corrects grammatical errors and updates archaic language but has no material impact on the operations of ATRS. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Matthew Shepherd (R) 

Status: Signed by the Governor, now Act 265 of 2017.

 

SB11  TO PROHIBIT CERTAIN TRANSACTIONS BY PUBLIC EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT SYSTEMS.

Summary: This bill prohibits business dealings with state pension systems with any entity adverse to the interests of the state of Israel.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Bart Hester (R) 

Status: Referred to Joint Retirement Committee.

 

SB212  TO AMEND THE LAW CONCERNING THE ARKANSAS TEACHER RETIREMENT SYSTEM.

Summary: This is a shell bill with no substantive legislation included and no action taken. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Bart Hester (R) 

Status: Referred to Joint Retirement Committee.

 

SB215 TO AMEND THE LAW TO FACILITATE RECOVERY OF FUNDS BY PUBLIC RETIREMENT SYSTEMS.  

Summary: This is a shell bill with no substantive legislation included and no action taken. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Bart Hester (R) 

Status: Referred to Joint Retirement Committee.

 

SB217 TO REVISE THE LAW CONCERNING THE ARKANSAS PUBLIC EMPLOYEES' RETIREMENT SYSTEM; AND TO REVISE THE LAW CONCERNING RETIREMENT AND PENSIONS.

Summary: This is a shell bill with no substantive legislation included and no action taken. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Bart Hester (R) 

Status: Referred to Joint Retirement Committee.

 

SB220  TO AMEND THE LAW CONCERNING STATE-SUPPORTED RETIREMENT SYSTEMS.

Summary: This is a shell bill with no substantive legislation included and no action taken. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Bill Sample (R) 

Status: Referred to Joint Retirement Committee.

 

SB221  TO MODIFY THE LAW CONCERNING STATE EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT.

Summary: This is a shell bill with no substantive legislation included and no action taken. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Bill Sample (R) 

Status: Referred to Joint Retirement Committee.

 

SB228  TO AMEND THE LAW CONCERNING THE EMPLOYMENT OF RETIRED MEMBERS OF THE ARKANSAS TEACHER RETIREMENT SYSTEM.

Summary: This is a shell bill with no substantive legislation included and no action taken. It is believed that Senator Irvin would like to encourage retired educators to re-enter the classroom without fear of compromising or complicating their retirement benefits.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Missy Irvin (R) 

Status: Referred to Joint Retirement

NON RETIREMENT SHELL BILLS

SB287 TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING SCHOOL ELECTIONS

Summary: This is a shell bill.  The content will likely be amended into the bill at a later date.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Bart Hester (R) Cave Springs

Status: This remains a shell bill on the Senate Education Committee’s agenda.

HB1749 TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF TITLE 6 OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING THE MANNER IN WHICH TRANSPORTATION FUNDING IS ALLOCATED TO PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICTS

Summary: This is a shell bill with no content. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Bruce Cozart (R) Hot Springs

Status: As a shell bill it has been referred to the House Journal.

HB1779 TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF TITLE 6 OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING THE STATE PUBLIC CHARTER AUTHORIZER.

Summary: This is a shell bill with no content. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Bruce Cozart (R) Hot Springs

Status: As a shell bill it has been referred to the House Journal.

HB1780 TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING TEACHER LICENSURE.

Summary: This is a shell bill with no content. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Bruce Cozart (R) Hot Springs

Status: As a shell bill it has been referred to the House Journal.

 

HB1782  TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF TITLE 6 OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING INTERDISTRICT SCHOOL CHOICE.

Summary: This is a shell bill with no content

Bill sponsor: Rep. Rebecca Petty (R) Rogers

Status: As a shell bill it has been referred to the House Journal.

HB1908 TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF THE ARKANSAS CODE TO REFORM PUBLIC SCHOOL FACILITIES.

Summary: Shell bill. No content yet. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Charlotte Douglas (R) Alma

Status: Just filed.  Not yet assigned to a committee.

HB1930 TO AMEND THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING THE PROVISION OF SERVICES TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Summary: Shell bill.  No substantive language. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Bruce Cozart (R) Hot Springs  

Status: Referred to the House Committee on the Journal 

HB1978 TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING THE AUTHORIZATION OF CHARTERS FOR PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOLS

Summary: Shell bill. No substantive language.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Jim Dotson (R) Bentonville 

Status: Referred to the House Committee on the Journal 

HB1979 CONCERNING PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS; TO PROVIDE MERIT PAY INCREASES FOR TEACHERS; TO AMEND THE TEACHER FAIR DISMISSAL ACT OF 1983

Summary: Shell bill.  No substantive language. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Jim Dotson (R) Bentonville  

Status: Referred to the House Committee on the Journal 

HB2050 TO AMEND THE ARKANSAS CODE TO ALLOW PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS TO TEACH CREATIONISM AND INTELLIGENT DESIGN AS THEORIES ALONGSIDE THE TEACHING OF THE ORIGINS OF THE EARTH AND THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION

Summary: Shell bill.  No substantive language

Bill sponsor: Rep. Mary Bentley (R) Perryville 

Status: Referred to the House Committee on the Journal

HB2264 TO AMEND THE REQUIREMENTS RELATED TO NATIONAL SCHOOL LUNCH CATEGORICAL FUNDING

Summary: Shell bill. No substantive language yet. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Monte Hodges (D) Blytheville 

Status: Referred to the House Committee on the Journal. 

SB666 TO REDIRECT GENERAL REVENUES CURRENTLY BEING USED FOR DESEGREGATION EXPENSES; AND TO PROVIDE FOR THE USE OF GENERAL REVENUES CURRENTLY BEING USED FOR DESEGREGATION EXPENSES

Summary: Shell bill. No substantive language yet. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Bryan King (R) Green Forrest 

Status: Introduced to Joint Budget Committee 

 

SB780 TO AMEND THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING THE OFFERING OF SECOND AMENDMENT EDUCATION AND TRAINING ON SCHOOL CAMPUSES

Summary: Shell bill. No substantive language yet. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Linda Collins Smith

Status: Referred to the Senate Education Committee

SB759 TO REQUIRE PUBLIC SCHOOLS TO REPORT DEMOGRAPHIC DISPARITIES TO THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION

Summary: Shell bill.  No substantive language yet. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Linda Chesterfield (R) Little Rock 

Status: Senate Education Committee

HB2130 TO CREATE TAX INCENTIVES FOR CONTRIBUTIONS TO PUBLIC PRE-KINDERGARTEN AND AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAMS

Summary: Shell bill.  No substantive language yet. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Michael John Gray (D) Augusta 

Status: Referred to the House Committee on the Journal.

HB2129 CONCERNING EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY AND THE PROCUREMENT OF EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY

Summary: Shell bill.  No substantive language yet. 

Bill sponsor: Rep. Michael John Gray (D) Augusta 

Status: Referred to the House Committee on the Journal.

HB2128 TO AMEND ARKANSAS LAW CONCERNING THE APPROVAL OF STATE AGENCY RULES

Summary: Shell bill.  No substantive language yet.

Bill sponsor: Rep. Mark Lowery

Status: Referred to House Committee on the Journal

SB767 TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING THE CARE OF HIGH-NEEDS STUDENTS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Summary: Shell bill.  No substantive language yet.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Missy Irvin (R) Mountain View

Status: Referred to State Education Committee 

SB752 TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING THE TRANSPARENCY OF STATE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAMS

Summary: Shell bill.  No substantive language yet.

Bill sponsor: Sen. Linda Chesterfield (D) Little Rock 

Status: Referred to Senate Education Committee 

SB719 TO AMEND VARIOUS PROVISIONS OF TITLE 6 OF THE ARKANSAS CODE CONCERNING PUBLIC EDUCATION 

Summary: Shell bill.  No substantive language yet. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Bart Hester (R) Cave Springs

Status: Referred to Senate Education Committee

SB706 TO CREATE A COMMISSION ON THE CREATION AND SUSTAINABILITY OF WORLD-CLASS PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Summary: This is a shell bill. It has not yet been filled in. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Joyce Elliott (D) Little Rock 

Status: Referred to Senate Education Committee

SB703 TO AMEND VARIOUS PROVISIONS OF TITLE 6 OF THE ARKANSAS CODE

Summary: Shell bill. No substantive language yet. 

Bill sponsor: Sen. Jim Hendren (R) Gravette

Status: Referred to Senate Education Committee