Education Bills Move Out of Appropriations
While many of you are just beginning your school year, the State Legislature is wrapping up in Sacramento. August 27, 2021 was the deadline for Fiscal Committees in the State Legislature to act on bills that were authored in the opposite house (i.e., Senate bills in the possession of the Assembly, Assembly bills in possession of the Senate).
The Senate and Assembly Appropriations Committees met on August 26 to dispense with over 500 bills pending on their Suspense File. The Suspense File is where bills that meet a certain cost threshold are placed while committee and house leadership negotiate which bills will move off the file and to their respective floors.
Bills that did not pass out of committee prior to the fiscal deadline are effectively dead for this year but could move during the second half of the legislative session. The bills that survived move on to the next hurdle which is a vote in either the Assembly or Senate floor. Once passed, the bill will head to the Governor’s desk.
Below are a few bills that moved out of Appropriations and may be of interest to you. These bills address core components of the Linked Learning approach, including student supports, relevant and engaging learning experiences for young people, and expanding access to higher education.
AB 14 (Aguiar-Curry) - Would authorize local educational agencies to report to the California Department of Education (CDE) their students’ estimated needs for computing devices and internet connectivity adequate for at-home learning. This bill would require CDE, in consultation with the Public Utilities Commission, to compile that information and to annually post that compiled information on the department’s internet website.
AB 101 (Medina) - Would add the completion of a one-semester course in ethnic studies, meeting specified requirements, to high school graduation requirements commencing with pupils graduating in the 2029–30 school year.
AB 469 (Reyes) - Would require a school district, county office of education, or charter school to ensure that all grade 12 students complete and submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application unless the student opts out.
SB 224 (Portantino) - Would require each school district, county office of education, state special school, and charter school that offers one or more courses in health education to pupils in middle school or high school to include in those courses instruction in mental health that meets the requirements of the bill. SB 224 would require that instruction and related materials to be appropriate for use with pupils of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and ethnic and cultural backgrounds, pupils with disabilities, and English learners.
The Legislature is set to adjourn the 2021 Session at midnight PDT on September 10, 2021. At this point, barring special circumstances, committee hearings will be finished for the year and all debate on bills will head to the floors of both houses.
Education advocates continue to work with the Legislature on issues schools are dealing with as they grapple with the ongoing challenges of safely reopening. Topics like independent study, COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and student and staff quarantines remain top of mind in negotiations with members and staff working to address as many issues as possible under a very short timeline.