Legislative Update - 2024, Week 10


Capitol Action Days are part of the Association's plan to promote positive policy for public education. MNEA's Capitol Action Days continued on March 6 when members from Governance Districts 1, 7, and 8 visited the Capitol and met with their legislators. For more information and to register for your Capitol Action Day, please visit https://www.mnea.org/CAD.

60-Second Summary


The Senate is likely to debate an omnibus education bill early next week. The substitute bill is likely to include many education topics. The likely vehicles are SCS/SB 1392 (Curtis Trent) and SCS/SB 727 (Andrew Koenig), both of which are on the informal calendar. The committee versions of each bill contain provisions expanding the existing tax credit voucher enacted in 2021 and authorizing the establishment of charter schools in St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Columbia school district without sponsorship by the local school board. The Association opposes both bills.



The House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education approved HCS/HB 1851 (Paula Brown) on March 6. The bill seeks to reduce the negative effects of the misuse and overuse of standardized testing. The Association supports the bill. HB 1851 limits the use of statewide assessments strictly to the uses required under the federal ESSA Act, including identifying schools for support and improvement. Public schools will create or adopt local assessments that will also be included in school report cards. The State Board of Education will select at least two national accreditation agencies from which public schools may seek accreditation. The HCS also requires DESE to ensure that the state assessments relate student performance to grade level.



The House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education also approved HCS/HB 2160 (Ben Baker) on March 6. The bill pertains to honesty in education and parents’ access to school and student information. The Association is concerned that the bill would adversely affect the freedom of teachers to provide the honest education our students deserve, and the complex new provisions could interfere with existing policies respecting student and school privacy. The Association opposes the bill.

The Senate Committee on Education and Workforce Development heard SB 918 (Denny Hoskins) on March 5. The bill pertains to honesty in education. The Association is concerned that the bill would adversely affect the freedom of teachers to provide the honest education our students deserve. The Association opposes the bill.



The House approved HB 2287 (Phil Christofanelli) on March 7 by a vote of 144-0. The bill makes minor revisions to clarify the new structure of accountability, enrollment, participation, and finance created for full-time virtual schools in 2022 by SS/HCS/HB 1552 (Richey). The Association supports the bill.



The House approved HB 1486 (Brenda Shields) on March 7. The bill would revise funding for early childhood education programs through the school funding formula. The bill would increase funding for early learning programs around the state. The Association supports the establishment of fully funded early childhood education programs in public schools and supports the bill.



The House approved HB 1604 (Dave Hinman) on March 7. The bill would change the filing window for school board candidates by moving both the starting and ending dates one week later. The result would be a filing window that extends from mid-December to the first week of January. The bill was approved as a Consent Bill.



The House approved HCS/HB 1569 (Ann Kelley) on March 7 by a vote of 125-8. This bill contains several provisions to increase support for higher education students. The bill creates STEM grants of up to $2000 for students pursuing degrees in STEM fields. The bill creates a Career Tech certificate program to allow A+ eligible students to use A+ funds for certificate programs such as EMT, CDL, and LPN certificates that are not currently A+ eligible. The bill also increases maximum award amounts for Access Missouri grants and requires public institutions to offer undergraduate course credit for any student who receives a score of 4 or higher on an IB exam. The House also adopted an amendment to increase the maximum allowed income to qualify for Fast Track workforce grants. The Association supports the bill.



The House approved HB 1518 (Brad Hudson) on March 7. The bill would prevent a public college from limiting recognition to belief-based student associations that require leaders to adhere to its beliefs, practice requirements or standards of conduct. The Association believes that organizations are strengthened by offering memberships on a nondiscriminatory basis. The Association opposes the bill.



The Senate Committee on Education and Workforce Development also heard SB 819 (Ben Brown) on March 5. SB 819 (Ben Brown) would restrict a school district from being a member of an association that does not allow home school students to participate in activities.



The Senate debated SB 862 (Holly Thompson Rehder) on March 4 but did not bring the bill to a vote. The Senate approved an amendment to include the language of SB 766 (Holly Thompson Rehder). SB 766 establishes consequences for a private school that fails to disclose allegations of sexual misconduct against a former employee when furnishing a job reference for the employee. The liability created is similar to existing law regarding the failure of a public school to disclose allegations against a former employee.



The House approved HCS/HB 2016 (Cody Smith) on March 7. The bill provides $2.2 million in supplemental state funding for the Missouri Highway Patrol and Missouri National Guard. This funding is related to the Governor's recent announcement to send personnel from those agencies to the Texas border.



The Senate approved SS/SB 756 (Tony Luetkemeyer) on March 7. SB 756 revises the senior citizen property tax credit enacted in 2023 in SB 190. The bill clarifies that any such homestead credit starts when a county acts to adopt the optional property tax credit and is not retroactive to a prior year when a taxpayer might have otherwise become eligible based on age qualification. The bill also clarifies that a taxpayer must be 62 years or older to qualify, rather than being Social Security-eligible. Qualifying taxpayers must also not have delinquent taxes to qualify. The Senate also adopted an amendment providing that the additional value of new construction and improvements on qualified properties would be subject to taxation, but such additional taxation would then be frozen in the same manner as provided for the existing, qualified property.

The Senate Committee on Economic Development and Tax Policy heard SB 1009 (Mike Cierpiot) on March 4. The bill would reduce the assessment ratio for all residential property by about 20% over a five-year period. The fiscal note indicates the bill could reduce local property taxes, including school taxes, by up to $973 million per year when fully implemented. The actual impact will vary by district, depending on the amount of valuation in various classes of property, the change of those values over time, and the ability of a taxing entity to increase an existing levy if values decrease. However, this change will significantly reduce local revenues in many districts. The Association opposes the bill.



The Senate Committee on Economic Development and Tax Policy also heard two bills affecting corporate income taxes on March 4. SB 1029 (Mike Moon) would eliminate the corporate income tax entirely over a five-year period, while SB 823 (Denny Hoskins) would reduce the tax rate from 4.0% to 2.25% over a period of years. Both bills would significantly reduce state revenues and reduce the state's capacity to invest in essential services such as K-12 and higher education. The Association opposes both bills.



The committee voted to approve four bills on March 7:

SCS/SB 976 (Travis Fitzwater) relating to technological education in public schools and creating the STEM Career Awareness Activity Fund.

SB 1049 (Travis Fitzwater) to revise virtual school law to allow state assessments to be administered virtually under the requirements in the bill.

SB 749 (Lincoln Hough) to remove degree granting restrictions for research doctorate degrees and certain professional and medical degrees.

SCS/SB 1075 (Andrew Koenig) to increase the amount of lower-division core curriculum credit hours that a student may transfer among public institutions of higher education from 42 credit hours to 60 credit hours. A transferring student who completes the 60 credit-hour block of courses at one institution shall receive academic credit toward the degree program, rather than simply receiving academic credit.



The committee heard three bills on March 6:

HB 1663 (Tara Peters) and HB 2113 (Phillip Oehlerking) each require written parental consent for changes to individualized education programs (IEPs).

HB 1945 (Brenda Shields) modifies provisions on teacher externships.    

The committee also approved two other bills on March 6:

HCS/HB 1568 (Ann Kelley) grants flexibility to schools for certain school employee training requirements. Annual training will be required for the first three years of employment. Schools may place requirements on a rotating basis based on school and employee needs. The Association believes this will allow more efficient use of staff training time and better meet student and school needs. The Association supports the bill.

HCS/HBs 1715 & 2630 (Tricia Byrnes) pertains to school anti-bullying policies. The bill requires certain changes in district anti-bullying policies, including disallowing zero-tolerance discipline policies. The HCS also requires that incident reports be reduced to writing and includes additional reporting requirements within schools and districts.



The committee voted to approve four bills on March 4:

HB 1502 (Gretchen Bangert) to require school districts to provide instruction in cursive writing by the end of the fifth grade, including a proficiency test of competency in reading and writing cursive. The bill was approved as a Consent Bill.

HCS/HB 2156 (Philip Oehlerking) to add two charter school members to the board of trustees of the St. Louis Public School Retirement System. The bill provided that the Missouri Public Charter School Association appoint the new members, while the HCS version provides for election of the new members. The Association opposed the original version of the bill.

HB 1972 (Alex Riley) to establish the STEM Career Awareness Activity Program.

HCS/HB 2344 (Ben Keathley) to limit local control of superintendent pay by creating a state cap of five and one-half times a beginning teacher's salary in the district.

To view past issues of the Legislative Update, visit www.mnea.org/legupdate