Ed Committee: Fri, Apr 3: penalty distribution, laptops, consolidation bills

  • Work session notes, MDIschools.net
      [short version: all matters of substance are left unresolved for the second legislative session, after the repeal referendum]

[Carried over from yesterday: Dr. Silvernail's work plan for MEPRI regarding EPS funding formula. Distribution of reorganization penalty money. MLTI "laptop" initiative. Advice from the AG regarding "competing measures".]

9:00 a.m. –

L.D. 520: An Act Authorizing Colleges and Universities To Regulate Public Safety on Their Campuses

School District Reorganization Bills

L.D. 977: An Act To Repeal the School District Consolidation Laws (Initiated Bill)

L.D. 115: An Act To Repeal the Laws Governing Consolidation of School Administrative Units

L.D. 635: An Act To Provide Additional Time to Certain School Administrative Units To Comply with School Administrative Unit Reorganization Laws

L.D. 95: An Act To Eliminate Penalties for Nonconforming School Administrative Units

L.D. 188: An Act To Establish a Moratorium on School Administrative Regionalization

L.D. 285: An Act To Amend the Laws Governing the Consolidation of School Administrative Units To Delay All Penalties for 2 Years

L.D. 174: An Act Regarding School Consolidation

L.D. 189: An Act To Exempt School Union No. 60 from the Laws Requiring School Administrative Unit Consolidation

L.D. 467: An Act To Exempt School Administrative District 12, School Union 37 and School Union 60 from the Laws Requiring School Administration Consolidation

L.D. 778: An Act To Exempt Certain Isolated Rural Communities from the Minimum Student Enrollment Requirements in the Laws Governing the Reorganization of School Administrative Units

L.D. 570: An Act To Improve the Laws Governing the Consolidation of School Administrative Units

L.D. 475: An Act Regarding the Reorganization of Regional School Units and Allowing a Municipality To Opt Out of an Existing School Structure

L.D. 158: An Act To Allow an Alternative Organizational Structure To Act as a Fiscal Agent for Each Member or Municipality in That Alternative Organizational Structure

L.D. 159: An Act To Provide an Administrative Structure for a School Administrative Unit That Does Not Join a Regional School Unit or an Alternative Organizational Structure

L.D. 1226: An Act To Eliminate the Opt-out Penalty for Consolidation of Schools if a School Administrative Unit Forms an Alternative Organizational Structure

L.D. 1287: An Act To Amend the Laws Governing School Consolidation To Eliminate Penalties, Establish Incentives and Allow Alternative Voting Procedures

L.R. 1438: An Act to Provide Collective Bargaining Protection for Alternative Organizational Structure Employees

Materials and options on competing measures

Committee's Analyst, Dr. Phil McCarthy, presented Comittee with infomation on "competing measure"

Memo includes:

1) Options regarding initiated bill and potential competing measures.

a) legis can enact or
b) reject and the bill will go to voters or
c) legis can reject and establish special election or
d) legis can propose a competing measure (competing measure if deals with general subject or is in conflict so can't coexist.) which will also appear at referendum.

2) Sections of ME constitution dealing with competing measures

3) 2003 document from when legislature previously confronted competing measure.

Linda Pisner, the person from AG's office with relevant knowledge. may be available later in afternoon.

How to work through the penalty bills

Committee has voted to table
L.D. 635: An Act To Provide Additional Time to Certain School Administrative Units To Comply with School Administrative Unit Reorganization Laws

Discussion now is about how to approach the penalty bills (delay, eliminate, etc.) in relation to competing measure -- primarily about how to maintain the options to consider all the possibilities after the referendum which seems to be presumed for November.

Senator Alford reports

that the Committee has informal permission from the legislative leadership to carry over bills into the next session, either broad or narrow in content, related to consolidation and penalties.

LD 95 voted ONTP w/divided report

Rep. Sutherland moves that LD 95 ought-not-to-pass.

Rep Johnson disagrees. Casavant and Rankin are "torn"

8 in favor of ONTP, 3 opposed.

LD 285

Sutherland moves to table.

Unanimous

LD 188

McFadden's bill to allow one extra year to come into compliance.

Sutherland moves ONTP

Johnson disagrees that it is a competing measure.

Finch points out that bill is designed to be implemented on July 1 and that it makes no sense to take it up in January 2010.

10 in favor, Rep Johnson opposed.

LD 1226

Rep Clarke's bill to allow extra time and eliminates penalties.

Sutherland moves ought not to pass.

10 in favor, 1 opposed.

LD 1287

Senator Damon's bill.

Sutherland moves ONTP.

Unanimous

Bills on fiscal agency, etc.

LD 158 Rep Schatz.

As with the previous, Chair Sutherland requests that content be included in ongoing list for carrying over for future consideration in next session. Moves ONTP

Commissioner testifies not necessary

(Amended not to include in carry-over list)

Unanimous of 10 present.

LD 159

Sutherland moves ONTP, include in carry over list.

Again, analyst and Commissoner say not necessary

10 in favor

"Opt out" bills

LD 475, Senator Rosen.

Sutherland moves ONTP, include in carry-over list.

11-0 ONTP

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LD 1319: Rep Cain: collective bargaining protection for AOS employees.

Sutherland: moves ONTP, include content ion carry-over list.

11-0 ONTP

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LD 570 : Rep Finch's "open-ended bill

Unanimously voted to table.

"Exemption" bills

LD 174. Senator Bryant, geographic exemptions. (SAD 44)

Sutherland moves ONTP and to include content for carry-over.

Rep Finch asks if there are any areas where including count of UT students would allow areas to meet minimum district size.

Commissioner says no.

11-0 ONTP

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LD 778: Rep MacDonald: exemption (Georgetown)

Sutherland moves ONTP, include on carry-over list

11-0 ONTP

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LD 189: Rep Johnson, exempt Union 60 (Greenville).

Sutherland moves ONTP, include minimum student areas on carry-over list.

Johnso prefers Sen Mills, LD 467 which covers larger territory.

Unanimous ONTP

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LD 467, Senator Mills, geographical exemption.

Sutherland, moves table until later in the day

11-0 to table.

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Committee breaks at 10:29. Will resume at 11:00AM to continue with LD 575

Laptop initiative: still not moving forward

I had to miss an hour's worth of the late morning work session. But I returned in time to hear that the Committee is not willing to make a recommendation in favor of the Governor's HS laptop initiative.

Rather, there is some wider interest in removing it from the budget, taking more time to solicit testimony through a public hearing, and also hearing suggestions from the Governr's staff about how to proceed.

The Commissioner says she will be meeting with the Governor this afternoon and will discuss it.

Afternoon session

Back in work session at 12:55 and taking up the matter of penalties. With the Commissioner in attendance.

Distribution of penalties

Senator Weston wants to know why they should spend a lot of time working out a procedure for distribution of penalties when she hopes to removed the penalties completely.

Dr. McCarthy says this may be only opportunity for Committee to alter distribution, as the law is silent on this.

Rep Sutherland: If we do nothing the money will just "sit there". We're not making a decision about the merits of the penalties. Already been calculated.

Rep Johnson: Should escrow penalties and allow penalized units to redeem this money by demonstrating efficiencies through collaboaration.

Rep Casavant: How much are reorganized districts counting on receiving this penalty money?

Commissioner: Has always qualified her promises to reoganized districts that distribution was dependent on legislative approval.

Rep. Finch: When RPCs were reorganizing, they must have expected these expenses. Even without this guaranteed they went ahead. So they must have felt it was worthwhile, even without extra fund. This is GPA money. Cannot be diverted by any other department, right?

Commissioner: Correct.

Finch: Okay. What's the deadline for expending funds.

Commissioner: Would need to disburse by June 30 2010.

Finch: So Committee could wait until January to decide on distribution.

Sen. Weston: Difficult to talk about distribution of funds when we don;t want to colect them. But feel better about it now if postponed.

Rep Sutherland moves that you set the money aside until second session. At that time we will revisit penalty funds. (Sorry that teachers won'tbe able to use the money in the meantime.

Sen Alfond: Four people on Appropriations will "go bananas" over this decision. They can't beleive we're having this discussion about redistributing the penalties. So understand we could be over-ruled. They will argue that RSUs were promised this penalties money.

Rep Johnson: Would like to postpone until we know how succesful we are with the other bills.

Rep Finch: Committee is not changoing plan. There was no plan. Deals and "Promises" are no more than ether in the wind. Appropriations call always do what they want. Just as we can always decide whether or not to vote for the budget.

Rep Rankin: Good idea to give more time.

Sen Alfond: Hoping we can get the budget passed so we can get stimulus dollars out to communities.

Rep Sutherland (re-states motion): To leave issue, to revisit in second session after a number of things have occured -- citizen's intitiative, etc.

Rep Lovejoy: If citizen's initiative passes, do we have to refund the money to the districts anyway? If so, it would make sense to have them set aside.

Dr McCarthy: Good question. Constituiton says iF there is a fiscal impact to intiated bill, then enactment is delayed by 45 days to give legislature chance to deal with this. Think there is a 36.5 million fiscal impact. Then you have to go back and reallocate. If penalties go away, there would have to be readjutments to FY 10 allocations.

Rep Lovejoy: So we'd have to recalculate the alocations and penalties. Based on that it seems imperative that we hold the money rather than send it out to reorganized districts.

Commisioner: Would be cautios and careful until we knew the referendum results.

Rep Casavant: One of my communities is already "banking" on this money.

Sen Weston: So, Commissioner, are you saying that you'd be holding the money anyway?

Commissioner: It's only fair to districts to let them know what the plans are -- in either circumstance -- to have a plan ready to go.

Sen Weston: If you were going to wait until the end of the year anyway?

Commissioner: No, have recently realized that better to wait to distribute.

Sen Weston: So that helps with Rep Casavant. It's not like we're pulling the rug out from under the reorganized districts.

Rep Finch: They may have made plans, but we don't yet know for sure how much the penalties would be. How long have estimates been floating around so someone could be counting on it?

Commissioner: You were the first to see these numbers yesterday. No one else has seen that. Not been posted.

(Motion restated)

10 in favor. One opposed. (Rep Casavant?)

Done at 1:25PM