On May 20, the Appropriations committees in each house of the Legislature considered its “suspense file,” bills with a price tag of over $150,000 that are set aside and considered all at once to weigh their fiscal impact as a whole. Unlike a typical hearing, the suspense file is a convenient time to stop politically difficult bills in their tracks. Over 350 Senate and 500 Assembly bills were considered at this year’s hearing, and ultimately more than 200 were shelved.
Three possible outcomes awaited bills placed on the suspense file. Some were passed out of committee and continue on to the Senate or Assembly for a floor vote. The less fortunate were “held on suspense,” meaning they died in the Appropriations committee. And others continue on but as a “two-year bill,” placing them on hold until next year.
The following are some highlights from key K-12 legislation considered during the suspense process this year:
Four measures supported by CSBA were passed and will continue on to floor votes:
- Assembly Bill 312 (Seyarto, R-Murrieta): Would allow a teacher credential applicant to demonstrate basic skills proficiency by earning a grade of “B” or better in qualifying coursework, or through a combination of qualifying coursework and existing exams, in lieu of passing a basic skills proficiency exam.
- AB 437 (Kalra, D-San Jose): Would provide the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing the authority to permit prospective teachers to demonstrate their subject matter competency through the submission of a portfolio of higher education coursework to meet the California Subject Examination for Teachers subtests.
- AB 815 (Rivas, D-Arleta): Would authorize the CTC to approve local educational agencies to apply for accreditation to offer a Professional Clear School Nurse Services Credential.
- Senate Bill 488 (Rubio, D-Baldwin Park): Would requires the CTC to revise their teacher preparation program standards and teaching performance expectations for literacy, authorizes candidates who have been unable to take the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (RICA) due to the COVID-19 pandemic to take a CTC-approved assessment in reading instruction, and requires the CTC to update the Teaching Performance Assessment to replace the RICA by July 1, 2025.
Three measures opposed by CSBA were passed and will continue on to floor votes:
- AB 388 (Medina, D-Riverside): Would expand permanent status for certificated employees after a 2-year probationary period for any size LEA, including small school districts with 250 students or less, adult schools, and regional occupational centers and programs.
- AB 438 (Reyes, D-San Bernardino): Would provide the same March 15 layoff notices and rights as those afforded to certificated employees to classified staff.
- SB 205 (Leyva, D-Chino): Would require school districts to provide full pay for up to five months after an employee exhausts all available sick leave.
The Senate Appropriations Committee passed SB 22, (Glazer, D-Contra Costa), which would authorize a $15 billion bond measure for the construction and modernization of public preschool, K-12, community college, University of California and California State University facilities to be placed on the ballot in 2022. CSBA has taken a support position on this measure.
AB 966 (Burke, D-Inglewood): Would have appropriated $300 million to the Full-Day Kindergarten Facilities Grant Program — was held in committee. CSBA has not taken a formal position on this measure.
Two measures supported by CSBA were passed and will continue on to floor votes:
- AB 14 (Aguiar Curry, D-Winters): Would extend the ongoing collection of funds deposited into the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) to provide communities with grants to bridge the digital divide.
- SB 4 (Gonzalez): Would extend and make various modifications to the CASF, including increasing the minimum speed of broadband infrastructure funded by the program, expanding the communities eligible for grants, and allows the California Public Utilities Commission to issue bonds secured by CASF revenues.
AB 101 (Medina, D-Riverside), which would add ethnic studies to the state graduation requirements, was passed by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. CSBA has taken a support if amended position on this measure and is seeking amendments to provide the funding necessary to address the cost of increasing student coursework.
AB 1316 (O’Donnell, D-Long Beach), which would make significant reforms aimed at charter schools, particularly nonclassroom-based charter schools, passed Assembly Appropriations. CSBA has taken an oppose unless amended position on this measure.
With the suspense hearings in the rear-view mirror, the legislative year is approaching its halfway mark. An additional wrinkle this session is the recent decision by leadership in the Senate and Assembly to limit each member to slim down their legislative packages to just 12 bills, which may force further tough decisions for legislators as they move forward. The next key date is the house of origin deadline on June 4, the final day for the Senate to vote on bills introduced in the Senate and for the Assembly to do the same for Assembly bills. Once that deadline has passed, each house will begin considering bills introduced by their colleagues in the other house.