Brothers and Sisters here are some of the bills going into the start of the legislative session. As you will see the scope of these bills is to take away the rights of working families, and to try to totally wipe out the unions ability to collectively bargain on your behalf. We will keep you up to date and informed as to the progress of these bills.
Interim Committee Edition
February 25, 2011
Beware! The 2011 Legislative Session begins Tuesday, March 8
It’s time to meet with your legislators! Senators and representatives will be back home next week (February 28 – March 7) so make appointments ASAP – you have a lot to talk to them about! Read on and start dialing those phones!
If you don’t know who your senator or representative is go to http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/Find Just fill in your address and city and VOILA! You will see the smiling face of your state senator. (Below his or her picture is a link that takes you to the House webpage listing all House members with a ‘Find Your Representative’ tab at the top)
Anti-due process bill heads to Senate floor
SB 736 —the so called teacher quality bill— has been heard by all Senate committees of reference and has been placed on the 2011 Senate Session calendar for Wednesday, March 9. Tell everyone you know to call or write their Senator and tell him/her that this bill is flawed and needs to be fixed and funded! SB 736 will:
· Dramatically increase FCAT type testing of students, costing hundreds of millions in tax-dollars, without a way to pay for them
· Link teacher evaluations and pay to student performance on FCAT and similar type tests
· Subjects ALL new teachers to be fired without ANY explanation or just cause
· Prohibits local school boards from even considering many advanced degrees and special training when determining a teacher’s level of pay.
The House version has a number now: HB 7019. At the time this report was written, the bill did not have any committee hearings scheduled… but it will.
More bad news – more anti-union bills filed
The House companion to Sen. John Thrasher’s SB 830 — the Union Gag Bill– has been filed. HB 1021 sponsored by Rep. Chris Dorworth (R-Heathrow) is identical to the senate version. As of yet, the bills have not been placed on committee agendas… stay tuned. As you may recall, these bills take away the right of members to have their dues automatically deducted from their paychecks by the school district.
More ugly anti-education union bills were filed today (Friday): HB 1023 by Rep. Scott Plakon (R- Longwood) and HB 1025 by Rep. Jason Brodeur (R-Sanford). Although we have not fully analyzed the bills, here’s what we see at first glance:
· HB 1023 will require recertification of a local union, as bargaining agent, that has a membership less than 50 percent of the potential bargaining unit membership by July 1, 2011, or the certification of the bargaining unit will be revoked. The bill does not apply to law enforcement officers or firefighters.
· HB 1025 will allow the members of a union to decertify the union as bargaining agent at any time. It requires union leaders to notify members of this right each year.
And some fairly good news – pension foes backing off…a little
Thursday, Senate Governmental and Accountability Committee chair, Sen. Jeremy Ring (D-Margate) held a workshop on SB 1130 – the FRS reform bill. The bill —as it is currently written —would require employees to contribute 2 percent of their salaries toward their pensions.
The committee took 2 hours of testimony and discussed proposed amendments which will be considered when the committee meets after the legislative session begins March 8.
Sen. Jack Latvala (R-St. Petersburg) has been working with FEA and Pinellas CTA along with other public employee unions to protect the FRS system. “I feel strongly that there are many people who work for government for the pension they are going to get,” Latvala said. “It’s important to keep that path open for them.”
Gov. Scott’s budget proposal had included a 5% employee contribution, along with a plan to end the defined benefit plan in which most public employees are currently enrolled – requiring all new employees to be placed in 401(k) plans.
Former FRS director Andrew McMullen cautioned the committee to not destroy a system that has become the envy of others. “You cannot improve on the system, but you can destroy the system,” McMullian said. “You are putting employees at risk with the ebb and flow of the stock market.”
Union representatives, teachers, firefighters, and university officials told committee members that public employees trade higher salaries in the private sector for the retirement benefits available from the state.
As you recall, Florida’s pension system has operated in a surplus for much of the past 15 years. But during the recent recession, like most investments, the fund took a hit. Now it is nearly at fully funded status.
LaFrances Flynn Trotter