ACTION ITEM: Please contact your House Representative immediately to urge their opposition to HB 1334.
This is your chance to stand up for your profession and the Association that stands up for you.
This morning, the House Education Committee heard HB 1334 (Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Lizton, a teacher himself), allowing the Department of Administration to contract for liability insurance for public and nonpublic teachers. This was the original bill (before an amendment) and basically invites state government to get in the teacher liability insurance business-hardly an example of free market principles generally espoused by members of the Republican caucus-but coincidentally a service that the ISTA provides as part of its membership dues.
Speaking of Association dues, Rep. Thompson then added an amendment to his bill in committee to do a number of things, chief among them, to prohibit a school employer from enabling the automatic deduction of union dues from the school employee's paycheck as voluntarily requested in writing by the employee.
Since this issue was highlighted in the Northwest Indiana Times and the Indianapolis Star beginning in November (after the election) as a legislative goal of the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce, ISTA has systematically contacted many members of the Republican House and Senate caucuses to ascertain the strength of support therein. Time after time, the response ISTA received in these intervening months centered on words and phrases like "unnecessary," "punitive," "retribution," and "does nothing to improve student achievement."
During public testimony on this issue, only one individual registered support specifically for the component of the bill that prohibits dues deduction-Kevin Brinegar, President of the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce.
ISTA testified in strong opposition and is greatly disappointed that, once again, the House Education Committee has chosen to focus on adults rather than programs in classrooms that help children succeed. The effort to take away teachers' own choice to deduct their dues, which is both voluntary and annually renewed, is disrespectful and is yet another attack on teachers-this time their professional Association.
During testimony, Rep. Thompson confirmed that his measure has nothing to do with cost and everything to do with his "philosophy" on the issue. This is not being billed as a fiscal savings measure and is surely not as demonstrated by the continued allowance of every other voluntary deduction one can conceive.
Recently, in other states with Republican-controlled legislatures, this same measure has been enacted-only to be found unconstitutional in court.
Ironically, Rep. Thompson embedded into his anti-teacher amendment the following initiatives:
(1) A $1000 state income tax deduction for certain expenditures made by teachers related to their instruction (this amounts to $34 annually);The bill passed committee as amended along party lines with a vote of 7-3. Representative Kreg Battles (D-Vincennes) excused himself from the vote until he can seek legal counsel because, as a professional educator and dues-paying member of ISTA, he wants to ensure there are no conflicts of interest.
(2) Excused from all professional growth requirements for re-licensure teachers deemed "highly effective;"
(3) Excused from 50% of the growth experiences the teacher would otherwise be required to accrue for re-licensure teachers deemed "effective;"
(4) In a blanket move, authorized "high performing schools" to seek waivers of all SBE rules.
ACTION ITEM: Please contact your House Representative immediately to urge their opposition to HB 1334. This is your chance to stand up for your profession and the Association that stands up for you.
Contact your legislators