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

Work session notes:

    Short version: all matters of substance are left unresolved for the second legislative session, after the repeal referendum
    Long version below:
Materials and options on competing measures

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

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.

  • By Brian Hubbell at 04/03/2009 - 09:27
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 problem of creating competing measures -- primarily about how to maintain the options to consider all the possibilities after the referendum which seems to be presumed for November.

  • By Brian Hubbell at 04/03/2009 - 09:37
Senator Alfond 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.

  • by Brian Hubbell at 04/03/2009 - 09:56
LD 95: An Act To Eliminate Penalties for Nonconforming School Administrative Units, Rep. Edgecomb; co-sponsors: Reps. Johnson, Clark

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. Divided report

  • By Brian Hubbell at 04/03/2009 - 10:06
LD 285: An Act To Amend the Laws Governing the Consolidation of School Administrative Units To Delay All Penalties for 2 Years, Rep. Schatz; co-sponsors: Reps Clark, Gifford, Senator Sherman

Sutherland moves to table.

Unanimously tabled

  • By Brian Hubbell at 04/03/2009 - 10:07
LD 188: An Act To Establish a Moratorium on School Administrative Regionalization, Rep. McFadden; co-sponsors: Reps. Eaton, Edgecomb, Johnson, Joy, Saviello, Schatz, Senator Weston

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

Rep. Sutherland moves ONTP

Rep. Johnson disagrees that it is a competing measure.

Rep. 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.

  • By Brian Hubbell at 04/03/2009 - 10:10
LD 1226: An Act To Eliminate the Opt-out Penalty for Consolidation of Schools if a School Administrative Unit Forms an Alternative Organizational Structure, Rep. Clarke

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

Sutherland moves ought not to pass.

10 in favor, 1 opposed. (Johnson?)

  • By Brian Hubbell at 04/03/2009 - 10:11
LD 1287: An Act To Amend the Laws Governing Consolidation of School Administrative Units To Eliminate Penalties, Establish Incentives and Allow Alternative Voting Procedures for Budgets, Senator Damon; Co-sponsors: Reps. Briggs, Browne, Burns, Edgecomb, Fitts, McFadden, Schatz, Sutherland; Senator Rosen

Sutherland moves ONTP.

Unanimous

  • By Brian Hubbell at 04/03/2009 - 10:12
LD 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, Rep. Schatz; co-sponsors: Reps. Cleary, Eaton, Gifford, Johnson; Senator Damon

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 motion not to include in carry-over list)

Unanimous of 10 present.

LD 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, Rep. Schatz; co-sponsors: Reps. Cleary, Eaton, Gifford, Johnson; Senator Damon

Sutherland moves ONTP, include in carry over list.

Again, analyst and Commissoner say not necessary

10 in favor of ONTP

  • By Brian Hubbell at 04/03/2009 - 10:15
LD 475: An Act Regarding the Reorganization of Regional School Units and Allowing a Municipality To Opt Out of an Existing School Structure, Senator Rosen; cosponsors: Reps Langley, Martin; Senators Raye, Weston

Sutherland moves ONTP, include in carry-over list.

11-0 ONTP

LD 1319: An Act To Provide Collective Bargaining Protections for Alternative Organizational Structure Employees, Rep. Cain

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

11-0 ONTP

  • By Brian Hubbell at 04/03/2009 - 10:20
LD 570: An Act To Improve the Laws Governing the Consolidation of School Administrative Units, Rep. Finch (a concept draft)

Unanimously voted to table.

  • By Brian Hubbell at 04/03/2009 - 10:21
LD 174: An Act Regarding School Consolidation, Senator Bryant; co-sponsors: Reps Crocket, Davis, Jackson, Johnson, Martin, Sutherland, Sen. Schneider

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

LD 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, Rep MacDonald; co-sponsors: Reps. Ayotte, Edgecomb, Hunt, McKane, Pratt, Schatz, Senator Goodall

Sutherland moves ONTP, include on carry-over list

11-0 ONTP

LD 189: An Act To Exempt School Union No. 60 from the Laws Requiring School Administrative Unit Consolidation, Rep. Johnson; co-sponsors: Reps. Davis, Gifford, Pinkham, Senator Smith

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

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

Unanimous ONTP

LD 467: An Act To Exempt School Administrative District 12, School Union 37 and School Union 60 from the Laws Requiring School Administration Consolidation, Senator Mills; co-sponsors: Reps. Crockett, Johnson, Pinkham; Senators Gooley, Smith

Sutherland, moves table until later in the day

11-0 to table.

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

  • By Brian Hubbell at 04/03/2009 - 10:30

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11:00 am

LD 977: An Act To Repeal the School District Consolidation Laws, (Citizens' initiative)

tabled 11-0

LD 115: An Act To Repeal the Laws Governing Consolidation of School Administrative Units, Rep. Edgecomb; co-sponsors: Reps. Celli, Clark, Crockett, Johnson; Senator Trahan

ONTP 10-1 (Johnson opposed)

  • by JSproule

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LD 467: An Act To Exempt School Administrative District 12, School Union 37 and School Union 60 from the Laws Requiring School Administration Consolidation, Senator Mills; co-sponsors: Reps. Crockett, Johnson, Pinkham; Senators Gooley, Smith

(resuming after tabling)

Private and special law. Not a competing measure

Nelson: What are differences? Emergency? Protect from “competing measure”?

McCarthy: P&S, not allocated to statutes. Yes, is shown as emergency. LD 191 would also be P&S

Weston: Models what is being done with islands

Alfond calls Gendron to table

Gendron agrees that the three districts are isolated
Long distances to travel to get to meetings

Islands were not required to reorganize
BUT, did have to do alternative plan
Rangeley interested in SAD form

Wagner?
LD 778: more general
Generated by Georgetown situation
Concerned about excluding communities that also are isolated but were not named in 467

Gendron:
Those three are islands surrounded by land
Road conditions
LD 778 addresses other communities which are contiguous and relatively close
Legislature looked at lots of alternatives when law originally written
Population density, for example
These three are really the unique area as to isolation

Finch:
Collaboration “kicked into high gear” after reorganization enacted
Reorganization has been very painful

Sutherland:
Merits legal review
Move to table
No second

Clarification: Is Sutherland’s motion because of the question as to whether this is a “competing measure”

Sutherland:
Yes; wants AG’s office to take a look
Lot of energy around d this bill
Wants to move it forward

Weston:
We’ve heard that AG’s office can’t offer an opinion on competing measure
Why this bill?

Sutherland:
Just in interest in of moving it forward
Wanted it tabled for that

Finch:
Emergency preamble
Should it pass, competing measure question becomes moot

Nelson:
Are these three communities facing penalties?

Gendron:
Yes, they are non-conforming
Penalties would be eliminated
And depending on distribution of funds, would change what goes to other communities

Alfond:
Maybe there are other towns which are isolated
Table it
Need to be consistent
Let others make the case as well
Second the table

Table 467?
7 in favor
4 opposed

  • By Nancy H

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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 Governor's staff about how to proceed.

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

  • By Brian Hubbell at 04/03/2009 - 12:15
Afternoon session

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

  • By Brian Hubbell at 04/03/2009 - 12:56
Distribution of penalties

Senator Weston wants to know why the Committee 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 collaboration.

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

Commissioner: Has always qualified her promises to reorganized 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 collect 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't be able to use the money in the meantime.

Sen Alfond: Four people on Appropriations will "go bananas" over this decision. They can't believe 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 changing 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 initiative, 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. Constitution says iF there is a fiscal impact to initiated 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 readjustments to FY 10 allocations.

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

Commisioner: Would be cautious 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

  • By Brian Hubbell at 04/03/2009 - 13:25

Additional

11:00 am
LD 977: (Initiated Bill) An Act to Repeal School District Consolidation tabled 11-0
LD 115 (Edgecomb) An Act to Repeal the Laws Governing Consolidation of School Administrative Units ONTP 10-1 (Johnson opposed)

Thanks, Judy

I've folded that in now above.