LFT legislative goals, 2018 regular session

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 With a budget crisis looming over all other issues in the legislative session, lawmakers must still make important decisions about school safety, educator rights, retirement security and other important
matters.

Here are some of the goals of the LFT’s lobbying team in the regular legislative session:

The budget: Faced with a shortfall of between $700 million and $950 million, lawmakers are looking at a budget that will drastically cut higher education, health care, infrastructure improvements and other services.  Though the MFP taskforce recommended a 1% increase, BESE, for the 9th time in 10 years, recommended another MFP formula with no increase

Look for another special session before July 1, in which LFT will advocate for a stable, predictable and fair budget.

School safety: Stunned by mass shootings at schools, lawmakers proposed numerous bills to protect schools. LFT supports stronger mental health evaluations of those who present threats to teachers, school employees and
students (HB 511), requiring notification of crisis management plans (HB 337, HB 498), and a feasibility study about
installing silent alarms in schools (SCR 8).

LFT introduced legislation to provide survivor benefits to educators killed in the line of duty (SB423).

After hearing from members, LFT strongly opposes measures to arm educators in schools (HB 271, HB 332, HB 602).

Educator rights: LFT continues our efforts to correct the mistakes made during the Jindal era.

We support bills to change the evaluation requirement for earning tenure from “Highly Effective” to “Effective:
Proficient (HB 587), and to reduce the Value Added portion of teacher evaluations from 35% to 15% (HB 651).

An LFT-sponsored bill strengthens due process rights of both tenured and non-tenured teachers in disciplinary
actions (HB 707).

LFT supports ensuring that teachers get student test results in a timely manner (SB 107).

An LFT sponsored bill extends assault leave benefits to school employees (HB 347). Bus operators’ route to earning tenure is clarified in HB 523, supported by LFT. We oppose a bill restricting bus operator tenure rights (SB 267).

LFT supports adding adoptive leave to the law allowing maternity leave for teachers (HB 625).

We support creating a task force to study the teacher shortage in parts of the state (HCR 12).

LFT supports raising the minimum wage (SB 162) and equal pay for women (HB 605, HB 251, SB 117, SB 118).

LFT opposes bills that would interfere with collective bargaining rights (HB 555) and would stifle teacher voices by interfering with payroll dues deduction (HB 626, HB671). We oppose efforts to silence public employees by restricting their ability to affect legislation (HB 53, SB 25).

LFT opposes a bill that could restrict the Teacher Bill of Rights when disciplining students (SB 465).

Retirement: LFT believes retirees deserve a stable, well-funded pension plan. We support bills that allow more retirees to return to work (HB13, HB 14, HB 696), to pay off retirement system debt (HB 376, HB 379),  to give credit for military service (SB 17), and to enroll charter school teachers in the state retirement system (HB 25).

LFT opposes efforts to switch our retirement systems to hybrid plans, weakening the systems and endangering member’s pensions (HB 39, SB 14).

Constitutional Convention: There are fears on both sides of the aisle that a proposed Constitutional Convention could make matters worse in Louisiana. Conservatives say it could increase taxes on the middle class; progressives say it could put K-12 education funding in jeopardy. LFT opposes HB 323, HB 385, HB 500, SB 218, SB 329.

School Choice: LFT opposes expanding private and religious school vouchers (HB 87), and allowing BESE, rather than local school boards and to determine school choice capacity (HB 670).

LFT supports limiting virtual charter schools to receiving 70% of the per pupil MFP allocation and limitations on
student counts (SB 95).

School funding: Now that school boards have approval over tax industrial exemptions that affect local school district funding, several bills would allow politicians to reduce anticipated revenue and to hide those debates from
public view. LFT opposes HB 201, HB 248, HB 254, HB 297, SB 294, SB 34 and SB 346.