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HSTA victories: New funding source for schools, pesticide buffer zones near schools

Progress made on family leave, civil rights protections for students

Successfully advocating for a constitutional amendment on the ballot this fall to better fund schools is the HSTA’s biggest and most important legislative achievement this year. Here’s a list of the school-related bills that passed and those that we advocated for but did not pass:

Constitutional amendment. If approved by voters, it would give the state the power to create a investment real property surcharge, bringing hundreds of millions of dollars into the public school system. PASSED. It will be on the November Ballot!! [More details below] (SB2922)

Paid family leave. PASSED, awaiting signature from the governor. [more details below] (SB2990)

Conversion therapy ban. PASSED, awaiting signature from the governor [more details below] (SB270)

Pesticide ban, school buffer zone, study. PASSED, awaiting signature from the governor. [more details below] (SB3095)

Property transfer public schools. PASSED, awaiting signature from the governor. (SB2237)

ABA services and clarification. PASSED, awaiting signature from the governor. [more details below] (HB2271)

Title IX. PASSED, awaiting signature from the governor.[more details below] (HB1489)

Collective bargaining-payroll deduction. PASSED, TRANSMITTED TO GOVERNOR and SIGNED! [more details below] (HB1725)

Collective bargaining-scope of negotiations. PASSED, TRANSMITTED TO GOVERNOR, and SIGNED! This bill will make our collective bargaining more powerful! [more details below] (HB2114)

Charter schools-teacher initiative, bonus not taken out of Weighted Student Formula or facilities. This bill died. HOWEVER, lawmakers put money into the budget for this. We are finding out how much they appropriated through the budget, but for one year. Public charter schools will be given these funds, above the amount they receive for WSF. (HB2162)

House bills that died, unfortunately:

HB1627 (banning sub-minimum wage for disabled workers)

HB1727 (paid sick leave for all employees in the state of Hawaii)

HB1882 (appropriation-computers/laptops for all public school students)

HB1941 (appropriation-world languages position in HIDOE)

HB2115 (agriculture-pipeline initiative)

HB2117 (minimize standardized testing)

HB2508 (charter schools-facilities funding)

Senate bills that died, unfortunately:

SB2381 (school closure with only principal approval-natural disasters)

SB2383 (national certification incentive program expansion incentives to keep NBCTs as hard to fill schools and add school psychologists)

SB2585 (UH grad students unionization-collective bargaining)

SB2928 (Farm-to-school expansion pilot)

SB3070 (teacher stipend grow-your-own) Even though this bill died, there may be money appropriated in the budget for it for one year. We are checking on this issue.)

Mahalo to members of HSTA’s Government Relations Committee, HSTA’s Board of Directors, HTSA Teacher Lobbyist Shannon Garan and HSTA Government Relations Specialist Mitzie Higa for all their hard work advocating for teachers and students before lawmakers this year. Your efforts have really paid off!

Constitutional Amendment details (SB2922)

On April 23, the Hawaii State Senate passed Senate Bill 2922, a proposed constitutional amendment to create an additional source of revenue for our public schools, by an overwhelming vote of 23 to one. This Senate vote follows the State House session on April 10, during which representatives unanimously approved this bill.

We could not have secured this victory without your collective effort. Thank you to everyone who submitted testimony in support of our proposal. Our members and community supporters sent in more than 3,500 pieces of testimony in support of the ConAm, the largest amount for any bill this session. Thank you, also, to the members of our Lobby Team along with the Government Relations Committee, Board of Directors, Speakers Bureau, and our many community supporters who lobbied legislators to approve the bill.

Thank you also goes to our education chairs, Senator Michelle Kidani and Representative Justin Woodson, each chamber’s leadership, and the many other legislators who believed in us and stood up for us, the teachers, our public schools, our keiki, their families, and our communities. Together, we are stronger!!

Finally, mahalo to the teachers and staff who sat in the Senate and House galleries to watch the bill pass. Our teamwork demonstrates the power and importance of unions in creating a better future for ourselves and our children.

Passing this bill will let the people of Hawaii vote, for the first time in our state’s history, to finally fund our public schools properly. They have been underfunded far too long.

SB 2922, if approved by a majority Hawaii’s voters in the Nov. 6 General Election, will amend our State Constitution to establish an additional dedicated funding stream for education by taxing “investment real property.” State Senate and House leaders have been very clear, and Kidani restated their intent once more on the Senate floor late last month, that this Constitutional Amendment is to tax second homes valued at $1 million or greater, which would generate hundreds of millions of much needed dollars each year for our schools.

The average homeowner would not be affected, because owner-occupants are exempt from this surcharge. Even someone who owns a second or third property, such as an apartment or condo, would not be subject to the surcharge as long as each of those properties isn’t worth more than $1 million.

This bill addresses two problems at once. First, Hawaii’s schools are chronically underfunded, with our state ranking last in the nation in the percentage of state and local revenue spent on our public schools. Persistent underfunding has led to a chronic teacher shortage, higher class sizes, cutbacks to arts, vocational and Native Hawaiian courses, unequal access to preschool programming and more.

Second, we are the only state that doesn’t use property taxes to help pay for public education, leaving us with the lowest property tax rates in the country. Real estate speculators have taken advantage of our low property tax rates to use Hawaii as their own private Monopoly board, driving up our cost of living by purchasing investment homes at prices residents cannot afford to pay. Last year, for example, 60 percent of all condos on Maui were owned by nonresidents. We must increase funding for our schools and stop wealthy investors from distorting our housing market. Our ConAm will do just that.

Our fight is not over. We still have to convince the public to vote yes on our proposal on General Election Day, Nov. 6. To accomplish that task, we will continue to need your help. Email info@hsta.org if you’re interested in working on the campaign to approve our ConAm.

Again, mahalo nui loa. Together, we can finally deliver the schools our keiki deserve.

Paid Family Leave (SB2990)

Although this bill passed, we still have a lot of work ahead. We wanted an implementation board for paid family leave, and a date to begin implementation; unfortunately, the bill has been reduced to a study. However, we will not stop. We will keep fighting for paid family leave for all workers in Hawaii. We are not finished! The study will be completed next year, and we know, as other advocates know, they will learn the same information we did with the study that was already conducted this year using Hawaii data. When their report comes out, we push forward!!! HAWAII NEEDS PAID FAMILY LEAVE NOW!!!

Conversion therapy ban (SB270)

Protects minors by prohibiting specific state-licensed persons who are licensed to provide professional counseling from engaging in, attempting to engage in, or advertising sexual orientation change efforts on minors. (Anti-gay Therapy) Establishes the sexual orientation counseling state task force to address the concerns of minors seeking counseling on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions and related behaviors. Thanks to the advocacy of HSTA’s Human and Civil Rights Committee members, who introduced an NBI at the NEA RA in recent years, to this effect. We have been advocating for this important victory every since, and got state lawmakers to approve the proposal this year.

Pesticide ban, school buffer zone, study (SB3095)

Beginning 1/1/2019, requires all users of restricted use pesticides to be subject to a requirement to report on their use of restricted use pesticides to the Department of Agriculture (DOA). Prohibits the use of a restricted use pesticide on or within 100 feet of a school during normal school hours beginning on 1/1/2019. Prohibits the use of pesticides containing chlorpyrifos as an active ingredient beginning 1/1/2019; provided that the DOA shall grant any person, upon request, a temporary permit allowing the use of pesticides containing chlorpyrifos through 12/31/2022. Provides for the deposit into the pesticide use revolving fund of all penalties and fines collected under the Hawaii Pesticides Law. Revises the ceiling and use of the pesticide use revolving fund. Requires the DOA to develop a pesticide drift monitoring study no later 7/1/2019. Appropriates general funds for the pesticide drift monitoring study, establishment of two full-time equivalent positions, and outreach and education.

Title IX (HB1489)

An important civil rights bill that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, including gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation, in any state educational program or activity, or in any educational program or activity that receives state financial assistance.Title IX is federal law, but putting these civil rights protections in state law ensures that Hawaii residents are protected if something happens to the federal law or it is weakened.

Collective bargaining-payroll deduction (HB1725)

Requires public employees in collective bargaining units to provide written notification to the exclusive representative to discontinue payroll assignments within a certain time period. Requires the exclusive representative to forward the notification to the employer within ten business days of receipt.

Collective bargaining-scope of negotiations (HB2114)

Provides that negotiations over the implementation of management decisions affecting the terms and conditions of employment that are subject to collective bargaining are not precluded from collective bargaining negotiations. Specifies that negotiations over the procedures and criteria of certain subjects of bargaining shall not compel either party to agree to a proposal or make a concession.

ABA services clarified (HB2271)

Under Act 199, Luke’s Law, that passed in 2015, and went into effect January of 2016, medical insurance, including Medicaid, was required to cover ABA services, even during the school day, if a doctor states the services are needed. Medical providers in Hawaii are willing to provide these services and pay for them when they are carried out by licensed individuals which are very specific by law for good reason. This law and the discussions that led up to the amendments made in HB2271, as well as the licensure law chapter 465-D, will finally clarify ABA support services for our students. We helped to clarify, that yes, teachers may, of course, have behavior plans, star charts, interventions, assessments, etc. But when, according to federal law,  a student’s behavior impedes their own learning or the learning of others, teachers should not be expected to figure things out all on their own. If what they are doing is not working, sometimes we, as teachers, need support from other certified professionals, such as board certified behavior analysts or psychologists with the appropriate certifications and training.  We are finally on our way to defining this law better to support our teachers to support our students with special needs, especially those with autism.

More links

  • Look up bills here.Enter the bill number (such as SB270) here to see the full text of the proposal, voting history, as well as testimony submitted for and against it.
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Author: Keoki Kerr
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