Legislative Alert

Social studies a scholarship must

Students now must show proficiency in social studies as well as math, language arts and science in order to receive a state Promise Scholarship. Social studies was excluded from the list when the scholarship program was created due to arguments among legislators over whether the state social studies proficiency test was biased. However, Senate Bill 482, originally introduced by Sen. Sen. John Gleason, D- Flushing, was approved by the Senate in a 37-0 vote and by the House of Representatives in an 81-26 vote, both in December. Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed the bill this month. The bill also requires high school students to earn three credits in social sciences.

Track this bill at: www.michiganvotes.org/2008-SB-482


Early intervention added to Code

Intermediate school districts may create "early intervening model programs" to identify learning difficulties among kindergarten through third-graders and to help prevent inappropriate referrals to special education under legislation signed recently by Gov. Jennifer Granholm. The measure passed the House and Senate in unanimous votes.

Intermediate districts have been allowed to develop such models in the past through the State School Aid Act, but funding was intermittent, according to a Senate Fiscal Agency analysis. Senate Bill 1039, introduced by Sen. Nancy Cassis, R- Novi, adds early intervention programs to the Revised School Code, making the permission permanent and adding emphasis, the analysis said.

Early intervention programs offer academic and behavioral support in such areas as reading, writing, visual memory and motor skill development, depending on the individual child's needs. If an intermediate district develops such a program, it must make its constituent districts aware it is available.

Track this bill at:  www.michiganvotes.org/2008-SB-1039


Preference yes, premium no

Michigan school districts may give preference to a Michigan company over outstate firms when awarding a contract if such provisions as price and quality are equal, according to the final version of House Bill 5639. The original bill, introduced by Rep. Dudley Spade, D-Tipton, in mid-2008, would have allowed public school districts not only to give preference to Michigan firms when costs were equal, but also in cases when the Michigan bid was as much as 10 percent higher, up to a maximum of $100,000.

The revised version passed in a 38-0 vote in the Senate and in a 102-5 vote in the House, both in December, and was signed recently by Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

In reporting arguments made by various parties for and against the original language, the Senate Fiscal Agency said that supporters argued that money paid to Michigan firms tends to be spent in Michigan, strengthening local economies and bringing down unemployment. Opponents argued that the premium would be an incentive for Michigan firms to pad their bids and also would fail to address the underlying causes for lower outstate bids, such as relative tax or regulatory burdens.

Track this bill at: http://www.michiganvotes.org/2008-HB-5639