[UPDATED] Priorities HSTA continues to track in the 2019 Legislative session

Please be ready to testify with us!

In January, we shared the priorities HSTA's Government Relations Committee planned to advocate for during the current Legislative session and on all levels of government.

Now, many of the bills we've been tracking in the Legislature have crossed over between the House and Senate.

In the coming weeks, we may be asking for your help to submit and deliver testimony. Each committee announces their agenda with just 48 hours notice, so expect to receive requests last-minute.

Please look for your top priorities and make sure you have a registered account with the Hawaii State Legislature in order to submit testimony.

See below for instructions, and stay tuned for updates as these bills move through the Legislature.

Related Story: Priorities for HSTA's Government Relations Committee in 2019

Education-related proposals under review

1. Public school funding

  • SB1474: Increases the general excise tax and use tax by 0.5 percent to provide an additional, dedicated funding source for the Hawaii State Department of Education and the University of Hawaii.

Update on March 22, 2019: According to a Star-Advertiser report, House Finance Chairwoman Sylvia Luke says she will not consider the measure: “Right now the Legislature should show the public that we have a good handle on accountability for the expenses, and I do not feel that the (Department of Education) has done enough to tell the Legislature that these are the ways that we’re using the funds for student achievement or for public school improvement.”

HSTA President Corey Rosenlee shared this message with our members: “We’re disappointed that the House of Representatives will not be able to vote on a measure that could properly fund Hawaii’s public education. Our schools remain in crisis. We need to have enough qualified teachers and proper facilities for our keiki, and comply with federal law when it comes to special education. We want to thank all of our teachers who contacted the Legislature and sent in testimony. As a union, we cannot be deterred. We will keep fighting to ensure our keiki get the schools they deserve.”

2. Teacher housing

  • SB12 and SB114: Establishes a teacher home assistance program to provide housing vouchers to full-time teachers employed by the Department of Education, including teachers at public charter schools, who teach at hard-to-fill schools as determined by the DOE.
  • SB387: Authorizes the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation to assist the Department of Education in developing teacher housing projects. Requires the Department of Education to lease land and contract with private entities for the development, revitalization, maintenance, and management of teacher housing. Permits the Department of Education to lease teacher housing to other eligible tenants if occupancy of teacher housing falls below 95 percent.

3. National Board Certified Teachers

  • SB983: Renames the Teacher National Board Certification Incentive Program the National Certification Incentive Program. Expands program eligibility to include school psychologists. Clarifies requirements and incentives of the program. Clarifies that teacher incentives, bonuses, and compensation beyond regular wages are excluded from the per-pupil request and included as separate line item in the budget for public charter schools.

4. Charter school funding

  • HB246: Provides funding for rental or lease of facilities under legislative appropriations and bond authorizations to the State Public Charter School Commission for the design, planning, construction, repair, and maintenance of public charter school improvements. Appropriates general funds for infrastructure costs, rental or lease assistance, and the repair and maintenance of network infrastructure for charter schools.

5. Teacher representative on the Board of Education

  • HB615: Amends the Board of Education membership to include a representative from the Hawaii State Teachers Association. Our unit would appoint a nonvoting public school teacher representative to the Board, subject to certain conditions.

6. School funding adequacy study

  • SB78: Requires the Department of Education to contract with a third-party consultant that specializes in school finance to study the adequacy of education in Hawaii. An adequacy study evaluates resources, such as staffing, equipment, professional development and time for student-learning interventions, and uses educational research to determine which areas need more support.

Related Story: Lawmakers propose new study to help effectively fund Hawaii public schools

7. Special education

  • SB392: Appropriates funds to the Department of Education to provide up to $1,690 to each special education classroom teacher for instructional materials and equipment.

8. Behavior analysis

  • SB391: Appropriates funds to the Department of Education to provide public school students with behavior analysis services. Requires the Department to seek any necessary approvals from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to amend the state Medicaid plan to include applied behavior analysis services for eligible students who have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

9. Air conditioning for public schools

  • HB247: Appropriates funds for the Department of Education to install air conditioning in public schools that prioritize the project.

10. Suicide prevention

  • SB226 and HB330: Appropriates funds for youth suicide early intervention, prevention, and education initiatives.
  • SB383: Requires the Board of Education to establish a youth suicide awareness and prevention training program and model risk referral protocol, based on existing materials created by the Department of Health, for all public schools, including charter schools. Requires complex areas and charter schools to provide the training program and risk referral protocol to all school personnel who work directly with students in department schools and charter schools, respectively.

Related Story: Hawaii lawmakers address education on opening day of 2019 legislative session

We need your testimony! Please register now

Your action is essential as the Hawaii State Teachers Association continues to track education-related bills through the Legislature. Create an account on the Hawaii State Legislature's website here so you can be ready to submit testimony quickly.

During the Legislative session, we usually receive just 48 hours notice about committee hearings, leading to our urgent, last-minute testimony requests.

  1. Click on the word Register in the top-right corner to create an account. Fill in your information, check the box marked "I understand and agree to the terms above," and click on Create User.
  2. A confirmation email will be sent to your email address. Check the email and follow the link to confirm your account.
  3. In the Search column, under Bill Status/Measure Status, search for the bill number we need you to testify for.
  4. Click on the Submit Testimony button.
  5. In the next window, on the left, click Continue.
  6. Make sure you check the box that says Support. 
  7. Indicate whether you plan to be at the hearing or not.
  8. Check Individual (which means you are testifying as an individual citizen).
  9. Write your testimony in the text field or attach it as a document.
  10. Hit Submit.

Click here for step-by-step instructions with visuals.