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Where Are They Now.....

A Status Report of Key Bills Still Alive in the Legislature

By Aimee Scribner - September 12, 2008

Since January, we have analyzed a number of key pieces of legislation making their way through the legislative process.

Many of these bills have been approved by both houses of the legislature, and are now sitting in what is called “enrollment” due to the Governor’s August threat to veto every single bill sent to him before a budget is passed.

Enrollment is essentially the place where bills are finalized to form before being sent to the Governor for his signature (or veto), and is considered to be a part of the legislative branch of government. Thus, legislative leaders can control the disposition of these bills until the Governor receives them.

In an attempt to keep you abreast of the current status of some of these bills, below is a quick status report including changes the bills have undergone as they have moved through the process:

SB 1446 (Romero) – This bill exempts, through 2010, eligible pupils with disabilities from the requirement to pass the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE), giving them the opportunity to receive a diploma. This bill is an urgency measure which requires it to take effect immediately upon enactment.  While in the Assembly, the bill was amended to (a) clarify the intent of the Legislature that the exemption applies to students graduating this spring, (b) prohibit school districts from establishing an individualized education program for a disabled student solely for the purpose of exempting him or her from the exit exam, and (c) add an additional year of exemption (until 2010) so that this bill works in tandem with AB 2040 (Nunez).

AB 2040 (Nunez) – This bill requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) to convene a panel to make recommendations to the State Board of Education (SBE) by July 1, 2010, regarding a standardized evidence-based assessment for eligible pupils with disabilities. It provides that commencing January 1, 2011, eligible pupils with disabilities who have fulfilled all of the requirements for a high school diploma except passage of the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) the opportunity to demonstrate through alternative means that they have achieved the same level of academic achievement required for passage of the CAHSEE. The Conference Committee has allocated $1,250,000 of federal funds proposed for appropriation their version of the Budget bill to support costs of this bill.

SB 606 (Perata) – This bill is still awaiting reconsideration on the Senate Floor.  Due to the fact that it is an urgency measure, the legislature has until November 15 to act on it.  As previously reported, if passed, it would make changes in the process for state intervention for local education agencies that are identified for Program Improvement and facing corrective action under the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The bill appropriates $47 million in federal funds for purposes of the bill. These funds are at risk of reverting back to the federal government if unspent by the September 30 deadline.   Since we last reported on this measure, a compromise is being worked out and may be included in a budget trailer bill.

SB 1425 (Steinberg)  – This bill develops a process, commencing July 1, 2009, for reviewing and responding to requests for aggregate or non-identifiable, individual pupil data records housed in the emerging California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS). Since we last reported on this measure Assembly Amendments have: (a) added a section to the bill stating legislative intent to obtain and examine specified materials related to balancing the benefits of access to data against the risk of loss of privacy, and stating  intent to convene a staff working group to make recommendations, (b) clarified the implementation date.

This bill is in response to the report released by the Legislative Analysts Office on pupil data. The report states that current law concerning data access is overly restrictive in a way that impedes education research, and creates excessive workload for the Department of Education and for local education agencies.

AB 2759 (Jones) – This bill recasts, renames, and modifies provisions of the Child Care and Development Services Act to establish the California State Preschool Program (CSP).  The CSP will be comprised of part-day and full-day programs and will target services only for three- and four-year-old children. Eligibility will be standardized, using current eligibility for the General Child Care program.  The Governor's 2008-09 Budget proposes $753 million for the General Child Care and Development program and $441 million for the remaining preschool programs.  According to the CDE, approximately $375 million of the $753 million for General Child Care serves three- and four-year-olds.

The Senate amendments delete the provision specifying that California state preschool programs serving children for a minimum of three hours and less than four hours per day shall have a reimbursement factor of 61.72% of the standard reimbursement rate, delete the authority of the of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) to transfer funds between the Child Care and Development Programs and CSP programs, delete all the changes to the PKFL program, and make technical, clarifying changes.

SB 1660 (Romero) – This bill authorizes a school district to expend Professional Development Block Grant funds to compensate new and existing mathematics, science, and special education teachers in schools ranked in deciles 1, 2, or 3 of the Academic Performance Index in a manner separate from the salary schedule, as specified. While it was in the Assembly, the bill was rewritten without altering its intent. The amendments also add special education teachers to the bill's provisions. Additionally, the amendments require annual reporting of funds used.

Again, all of the bills mentioned above, along with 867 others, have been approved by the legislature and normally would be in the Governor’s possession, awaiting his action.  Although the legislature has not sent their bills to the Governor, the Governor still only has until September 30th to sign or veto bills into law.

Editor's Note: Aimee Scribner  is the Senior Legislative Coordinator for Governmental Solutions Group, LLC .  She is a former consultant to the Assembly Education Committee and a former teacher.