Legislative Update (3-15-2019)

Today is the first day of the Governor’s 10-day veto period. The 2019 General Assembly will meet only one more day, Thursday March 28. The House and Senate cannot vote on any bills UNTIL March 28. That will be the last day the two bodies can act.
This is the eighth in a series of weekly legislative emails to keep you informed about relevant education bills. KASC is tracking numerous bills that have direct impact on teaching and learning for teachers, parents, principals, students, and councils.

In this announcement we will share...

  1. House Bill 166 - A Senate Floor Amendment on SBDM was withdrawn form the Student Day of Prayer Bill
  2. Senate Bill 250 - Bill passed that allows JCPS Superintendent to have the final choice in principal selection
  3. Signed into Law by the Governor
  4. Passed by House and Senate; Delivered to the Governor
  5. Status of Other Bills

Positive update - withdrawal of bad floor amendment to HB 166

Good news! Last night, March 14, the Senate withdrew a Senate Floor Amendment that would have changed the SBDM law to give all superintendents the right to override a school council’s principal selection decision. This amendment had been attached to the popular International Day of Prayer Bill (HB 166). The prayer bill passed and did not have any amendments that would affect SBDM.  Thank you for your calls and outreach to legislators.  

Senate Bill 250

Senate Bill 250 passed the legislature and is heading to the Governor’s office for signature or veto.
Senate Bill 250  takes the final choice in principal selection away from the SBDM Councils in Jefferson County only.
KASC was disappointed that the House voted in favor of SB 250 on Tuesday March 12, 2019, and the bill is now heading to the Governor’s office for signature or veto. SB 250 only applies to Jefferson County and grants the superintendent the ability to override any principal selection by the school council. We will work to ensure a smooth transition of this new principal selection process. We want to thank the numerous House members who voted against SB 250 and spoke up in favor of the current SBDM principal selection process that has helped bring Kentucky up from being ranked 49th in the nation. School councils are one of the hallmarks of KERA for 27 years and are a resounding success. We need to remain vigilant so that our gains over a quarter of a century are not reversed by those with top-down leadership goals.

Signed into Law by the Governor

SB 1  School Safety Bill
Signed by the Governor on March 11 and as an Emergency Bill takes effect immediately. 
Summary: This bill would add more school resource officers and mental health professionals in Kentucky public schools; require active shooter training for certain school employees; require that districts appoint a school safety coordinator; mandate that access points to school buildings be secured by July 1, 2022; specifically criminalize making false threats against schools; require middle and high school administrators to provide suicide prevention materials to all students; require school boards to adopt trauma-informed approaches in schools to improve their internal climates; and create a new state school security marshal position. Schools need to check with their district central office to see if any changes need to be made now. For example, the training requirement for suicide prevention has been expanded to include all district employees with regular direct contact with students in grades 6-12 (see page 32 of the bill).

Passed by House and Senate; Delivered to the Governor

SB 8  Teacher Tribunal law
Summary: Amends KRS 161.790 to clarify the causes for which a contract of a teacher may be terminated; require an attorney to serve as hearing officer and chair of the tribunal; remove the lay person from the tribunal; establish selection and training requirements for hearing officers; establish a prehearing conference for motions and mediation; establish the tribunal's decision as a recommended order and allow parties to file exceptions to the recommended order; allow hearing officer to respond to exceptions by entering original recommended order or an amended order as a final order; limit decisions to upholding or overturning the decision of the superintendent

SB 15 Hiring relatives of school board members, superintendents, and principals and criminal records checks
Summary: Clarifies that a district shall not employ the relative of a school board member; relatives of superintendent must have been employed for minimum 36 months in the district before the superintendent is hired; no principal relative shall be employed in same school as principal; clarifies definition of “contractor” for purposes of criminal records check law when a “contractor” will have direct contact with students. There is no change proposed to the current law that requires SBDM parent members to submit to a federal, state criminal records check and child abuse/neglect report from the Cabinet for Health and Family.  A parent member shall be removed if there is a record of abuse or neglect, of a sex crime or criminal offense against a victim who is a minor as defined in KRS 17.500, or as a violent offender as defined in KRS 17.165

SB 250 Principal Selection SBDM Jefferson County
Summary: The bill includes a substitute, plus three main amendments that apply to Jefferson County Public Schools. First, removes principal selection from the SBDM and gives to the Superintendent. Second, provides that the superintendent does not have to get prior approval from the school board for purchases under $20,000.  Third, amends the central office tenure laws to allow the superintendent to remove central office administrators without following the state tenure laws.

HB 21 Family Resource and Youth Service Centers
Summary: amend KRS 156.496 to allow school districts to accept monetary donations for the operation and maintenance of family resource and youth services centers; require that donations be used exclusively for those purposes.

HB 166 Student Led Day of Prayer
Summary: This is a global initiative for voluntary student led non-sectarian day of prayer for students in public school.

Status of Other Bills


HB 11 Prohibit smoking on school premises by school employees (Rep. K. Moser) This bill would prohibit smoking by persons affiliated with the school on school premises, school vehicles or while on a school related trip. On March 14 the Senate Health & Welfare committee approved of the bill unanimously and now it is heading to the full Senate for a vote. 

SB 175 Amend Assessment and Accountability and TSI (Sen. D. Givens) Amend the standards and assessments process review committee; revise requirements for state accountability system; amend the requirements for the targeted support and improvement designation. Currently, if a TSI school does not exit this status then the school will be identified as a Comprehensive Support and Improvement status and will lose their SBDM.  This bill recognizes the overreach of the present law that identifies 30 percent of Kentucky schools as TSI but does not provide increased resources to assist the schools. Instead it sets the schools on a path to remove stakeholder voice and be labeled as a failing school. February 12 introduced; February 14 discussed in Senate Education Committee with KDE Commissioner Lewis objecting to parts of bill. On February 21 the Senate Education Committee approved a committee substitute that reduces the number of TSI schools from 30 % to 15 % of all Kentucky Schools. Currently, half of middle and high schools are in TSI status and the state does not have the resources to supply the necessary targeted intervention to this large number of schools. There is concern that the proposed changes might not receive Federal ESSA approval. On February 25 the bill with committee substitute passed the Senate and on February 27 was assigned to House Education Committee. On March 5 the bill passed the House Education Committee and is currently before the full House for a vote. 


HB 205 Tuition Tax Credit for Private Schools (Rep. J. Carney) *similar to SB 118. Direct public spending on private schools through vouchers is prohibited by Kentucky’s constitution. This bill would give an almost 100 percent tax credit for tuition to private schools.  Here is a link to a Kentucky Center for Economic Policy (KCEP) analysis on the impact of these private school tax credits:  https://kypolicy.org/new-tax-break-would-subsidize-private-schools-at-the-expense-of-kentucky-public-schools/. On March 13, both Democrat and Republican legislative leaders have promised that HB 205 will not be passed this legislative session. 

HB 525 Teacher Retirement System Trustees (Rep. K. Upchurch) Reorganizes nomination and election procedures for trustees of the Teachers' Retirement System board. A committee substitute was filed to increase the number of Trustees from 11 up to 13 (eight educators; three Governor Appointees with investment expertise; Commissioner of Education; State Treasurer.)   The Trustee nomination procedure was significantly amended.  This bill provides that one trustee nomination would be selected from each of the following organizations:  the Kentucky Education Association, the Kentucky School Boards Association, the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents, the Kentucky Association of Professional Educators, Jefferson County Teacher’s Association, Kentucky Association of School Administrators and a retired member from Kentucky Education Association and Kentucky Retired Teachers Association. Additionally, a trustee selected by the Governor from a list submitted by the Kentucky Society of Certified Public Accountants. February 20 filed and February 21 assigned to the State Government Committee. This bill was the reason for the teacher “sick out” movement on Thursday February 28, 2019 when several school districts cancelled school due to the inability to obtain substitutes. On February 28 the committee approved the committee substitute and the bill is heading to the full House for a vote. On March 5, the Representative who introduced this bill filed a floor amendment that would delete the original bill and require the Public Pension Oversight Board to study the Teachers' Retirement System's board composition, nomination and election process for elected trustees. On March 13, both Democrat and Republican legislative leaders have promised that HB 525 will not be passed this legislative session. 


HB 504 Teacher Pension (Rep. S. Lewis) This bill applies only to teachers hired after January 1, 2020 and does not make changes to the existing benefits of current teachers and current retirees. The bill creates a two-tier benefit system for future teachers and they would contribute to a traditional defined–benefit plan and to a new supplemental account that is a hybrid between a defined-benefit plan and a 401(k) account. Future teachers would need to work until age 55 to draw a pension.  This bill had input from many stakeholders including KEA, TRS, and many of the K education groups. February 20 the bill was introduced. February 21, assigned to State Government Committee. 

SB 3 Amending school council authority (Senator John Schickel, Boone Co.). As you’ve read from us, SB3 would drastically alter School Based Decision Making in Kentucky because it can remove the local teacher and parent voices from a school and replace with decisions by the superintendent and school board. Our SBDM system is working, and it will not benefit our schools to revert to a system where school decisions are politicized and made from the top down. This bill passed Senate Education and then the full Senate on January 11. In the House, the bill was assigned to the House Education Committee on February 6.  

HB 58 Return Pension Income Exclusion to $41,440 (Rep. R. Huff) Amend KRS 141.019 to increase the pension income exclusion from $31,110 to $41,110.  January 8 introduced and January 10 assigned to House Appropriations and Revenue Committee.  March 5 the committee voted in favor of the bill and passed unanimously in the House of March 13. The bill now heads to the Senate where it must be heard in committee and pass the full Senate.


HB 508 The Educators Employment Liability Insurance Program(Rep. D. Meade)  New law would provide up to $2 million in liability coverage for each certified public school employee in the state. The bill would appropriate $7 million in funding from the state Budget Reserve Trust Fund for the program over the next fiscal year. Future funding could come from the state General Fund, gifts and grants from public and private sources, and federal funds. February 20 filed and February 26 approved by Appropriations & Revenue Committee. Heading to the full House for a vote. There are several floor amendments filed and one would expand to cover Classified Employees. On February 28 a fourth floor amendment was filed that allows a certified employee to decline coverage and request a $150 annual reimbursement and requires a local school district to provide equal opportunity to professional organizations to present information on their liability insurance programs. On March 14 a fifth floor amendment was filed to maintain the same dependent care subsidy for non-Medicare eligible retirees of the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) participating in the Kentucky Employees Health Plan for plan year 2020 as provided in plan year 2019 and would order a study of the issue. 

Bills previously reported but have not moved in committee in several weeks

SB 27  Smoke free school premises
SB 68  Mandatory instruction for all students on child abuse and child sexual abuse
SB 118 Tuition Tax Credit for Private Schools
HB 1  School Safety Bill
HB 8  Dyslexia
HB 88  Increase physical activity time for elementary schools
HB 185 Human Sexuality Curriculum
HB 202 Corporal Punishment
HB 272 Fourth Grade Promotion Literacy and Mathematics Remediation
HB 331 Opt Out of State Assessment
HB 377 Arts Education Equity Act 
HB 405 Racial Trauma Professional Development

If you would like to contact your legislator about any bills, please:
1. Call 800-372-7181, Legislative Message Line, open Monday through Friday.
2. Email your Senator and House Member (If you don’t know who they are use Find My Legislator) Remember to put in the subject line that you live in their district because that is important to legislators.