12th Journal Entry of the First Legislative Session of the 55th Legislature

April 23rd, 2015

The House finally heard a bill that had been on the Calendar that will help our schools with the current teacher shortage that has reached a crisis level. SB 20 by Rep. Henke, R-Tulsa would require that the State Department of Education issue a certificate to teacher applicants that hold a valid out-of-state certificate. Certificates are issued for the subjects/grades listed on the certificate that most closely align with those in our state. This exempts applicants from competency exams if he/she has taught in an accredited school in another state for five years. It also allows a temporary certificate to be issued upon receipt of an Oklahoma criminal background check with a full certificate being issued upon the state receiving a national criminal background check. While this has the potential of helping Oklahoma with the teacher shortage crises, we must realize that our salary schedule is not competitive with neighboring states. The main area that this will have an impact on is if a person has been transferred to our state in some area of employment outside of education and the spouse taught in that state. This would allow the teaching spouse to be available to teach in Oklahoma without an excessive amount of certification testing and other reciprocal qualifications.
A surprise came about when Rep. Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, brought back SB 505 for its “final” vote on the House floor prior to being sent to the Governor. I say “final” because two days previously it was defeated on a vote of 43 to 52!! There had been a lengthy question and answer period on creating a Statewide Virtual Charter School Revolving Fund. This fund would create an account to hold the revenue that would be redirected to the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board. There was considerable confusion as to how much money this fund would receive for oversight of this relatively new form of “education”. There was an unsuccessful attempt to amend this bill by placing an untimely filed amendment putting a $500,000 cap on this fund. There was concern expressed that virtual charter schools are often seen as operating within a virtual shadow of oversight and this caused many to question how this money will be spent. It was brought back again to the House for a vote late in the evening two days later and this time 64 members voted to allow this bill to be sent to the Governor creating a “virtual” revolving fund where a “virtual” State Wide Board can place real tax payers’ dollars. There were 32 of us who remained loyal to the principal of protecting our public schools by voting no this second time.
A bill, SB 366, passed out of the House and on to the Governor dealing with assistance to disabled veterans to cover the costs for a specifically designated home that is adapted to their identified disability needs. Subject to the availability of funds the Department of Veterans Affairs shall develop a special housing grant program not to exceed a total cost of $5,000. This will be identified as the Oklahoma Veterans Housing Program Revolving Fund under the Dept. of Veterans Affairs. This Fund will consist of donations, appropriations, and other unspecified funds and will be supplemented by additional funds from a federal housing program. This will require grant recipients to apply for and be accepted for the federal grant program, be a resident of this state prior to entering military services, reside in the state and use the funds to purchase or remodel permanent housing in the state.

If you wish to contact me, please utilize any of the following: PO Box 98, Porum, OK 74455, by email at ed.cannaday@okhouse.gov, home phone: 918 484 5701, cell: 918 448 5702 or Legislative Assistant, Gene Fowler, at 1 800 522 8502 or 405 557 7375 and fax 405 962 7624 at the Capitol. Web Site http://www.edcannaday.com Ed Cannaday

11th Journal Entry of the First Legislative Session of the 55th Legislature

April 16th, 2015

In my 9th Journal I shared information on HB 1749 which would prohibit the automatic payroll deduction of dues for groups engaged in collective bargaining after November 1, 2015. This has been done without a lot of fanfare since the 1970s but now the state leaders see this as a “conspiracy of teachers against the state.” This line of argument is misleading since it is a claim that the bill will be an attempt to stop labor organizations or unions as they were so very incorrectly assigned the bogus responsibilities of “negotiating against the state.” I raise this question again following Governor Fallin’s rather rapid signing of this bill. This has caused me to attempt to understand the rationale for this legislative and administrative action. It is often said that this state has consistently held that our leaders and citizens are truly conservative and within this point of view we are told that any form of organized labor is a symbol of evil goals and actions that are counter to our state’s best conservative values. However, I am somewhat confused when I reflect on my grandparent’s conservative Republican hero, the late President Dwight D. Eisenhower. A well-known quote that is attributed to him as to his views of the role of organized labor should be compulsory reading by all the good conservative Republicans who voted for this bill. “You of organized labor and those who have gone before you in the union movement have helped make a unique contribution to the general welfare of the Republic—the development of the American philosophy of labor. This philosophy, if adopted globally, could bring about a world, prosperous, at peace, sharing the fruits of the earth with justice to all men.” “One principle of this philosophy is: the ultimate values of mankind are spiritual: these values include liberty, human dignity opportunity and equal rights and justice. Workers want recognition as human beings and as individuals—before everything else.” Considering this noble leader’s views, how do we explain how his political party has disregarded his time honored values?
As a student of our nation’s history and the development of our democratic system of government, I am concerned that there were little or no concerns raised during the passage of this legislation relating to the potential of having this rejected by our state or national courts. Specifically, I am referring to its disregard of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment “due process” clause, as well as this bill clearly ignoring the protective language of the “equal protection” clause in these amendments. If these issues do not merit the courts’ attention, the “privilege and immunity” clause of the Fourteenth Amendment will surely bring this bill under very serious scrutiny. Many in this House felt that this would be an easy political vote in attacking our school teachers since those voting in unison with their leaders have been led to believe that educators don’t care if they have the right to freely assemble as provided by our state and national constitution. HB1749 isn’t merely a question of dues being automatically deducted

If you would like to have my weekly Notes sent to by email each week, please contact me at the address below. If you wish to contact me, please utilize any of the following: PO Box 98, Porum, OK 74455, by email at ed.cannaday@okhouse.gov, home phone: 918 484 5701, cell: 918 448 5702 or Legislative Assistant, Gene Fowler, at 1 800 522 8502 or 405 557 7375 and fax 405 962 7624 at the Capitol. Web Site http://www.edcannaday.com Ed Cannaday

10th Journal Entry of the First Legislative Session of the 55th Legislature

April 9th, 2015

There are times while serving on a legislative committee that I am proud of what we have studied, debated and passed on to another committee or the full House for further consideration. However, there are times when I have taken greater pride in taking part in “killing” a bill which would create numerous unintended consequences. There were two such bills the third week of our hearing bills that had passed out of the Senate. The first of these was SB 504 with the House author being Rep. Nelson, R- Oklahoma City, which would have authorized state tax dollars that are dedicated to the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program or OHLAP to go to private online competency based higher education programs. The author was asked to name these institutions that offer these programs and those listed operated outside of our state boundaries. In questioning, Rep. Nelson could not indicate what the fiscal impact would be if this became law. Currently this program is used for students attending traditional state higher education institutions. This bill failed to even get a motion to be voted upon to be advanced from that committee. Secondly, Rep. Biggs, R-Chickasha presented SB 301 which passed out of the Senate and was being heard in Education A & B. This bill would have assigned a Regional Accreditation Officer who is assigned to the State Department of Education to receive law enforcement training, CLEET certification and then be assigned to the State Board of Education with the singular responsibility of investigating reports of “illegal” activities on the part of any school employee. The problem is that RAOs have enormous amount of responsibilities relating to the district’s accreditation and compliance with existing state laws. Currently if there is any evidence of such illegal activities and with a specific focus on sexual misconduct, it is directed to the local district. This proposed legislation seemed to be designed to label our schools as being “out of control in this specific area of criminality” that the schools and leaders have “their heads buried in the sand.” Having spent years in education I know this is a bogus attack as a means of undermining the authority and integrity of our current State Superintendent of Education. It is a real shame that these legislators who lack any experience in public education are so committed to attacking public education in this manner. Thank goodness that this bill died in Committee because it failed to receive a 2nd as required to receive an up or down vote. The Senate author claimed on the Oklahoma City TV news report that he would find a way to get it re-considered.
Education Appropriations and Budget Sub Committee met to consider Senate Bill 29 by Rep. Denny of the House which would provide some flexibility to those teachers whose certification may have expired but was not notified by the State Department of Education. This would require written notification by Oct. 1st of any license or certificate that expired as of June 30 of the same year. This is sent to the last known address of the holder of the certificate and to the last known employing school district. In part this is designed to help address the ever increasing teacher shortage in our state. This passed by a vote of 9 yes and 0 no and is now on the Floor Calendar. Another bill that I found myself voting no on was SB 505 by Nelson of the House. This passed on a 7 yes and 2 no vote and when it went to the full Appropriations and Budget it barely made it out by a 14 to 10 vote. If it passes the full House and is signed by the Governor, it will create a revolving fund for state wide virtual charter schools. This would bypass the State Department of Education and send state revenue directly to for state revenue to be used in the promotion of virtual charter schools across the state. At the time this Journal is being written this bill is also on the Floor Calendar.
As this 9th week of session comes to a close and we have considered all the Senate bills, we will begin addressing proposed legislation that has had title or emergency clause stricken and thereby sent to a conference committee. The purpose of this step in the legislative process is to correct any language issues. These committees are staffed by Representatives with significant levels of expertise on statutory titles under which the bills are written.

If you wish to contact me, please utilize any of the following: PO Box 98, Porum, OK 74455, by email at ed.cannaday@okhouse.gov, home phone: 918 484 5701, cell: 918 448 5702 or Legislative Assistant, Gene Fowler, at 1 800 522 8502 or 405 557 7375 and fax 405 962 7624 at the Capitol. Web Site http://www.edcannaday.com Ed Cannaday

9th Journal Entry of the First Legislative Session of the 55th Legislature

April 2nd, 2015

This Journal follows the second consecutive yearly educators’ rally at the Capitol. While the numbers present were considerably less than last year, the intensity this year was greater based on the audience’s knowledge that they were given hope that state leaders assured would address their concerns. However, after the educators left to go back to their school districts, these assurances were dismissed and ignored. This was on the minds of those present and this brought the level of intensity up to a level that brought the educators and students into the Capitol to directly address legislators and to document either their absence or willingness to address funding and curriculum issues that have become major concerns for our public schools. I was especially impressed with the increased number of students present this year since they were the focus of the multiple speeches. I would like to share a portion of Rep. Inman’s speech, who is the Democratic leader from Del City, about the concerns of those present. “….I want to warn each of you. You cannot merely demand change. For if that’s all you do, you will continue to get what you’ve always got.” I want you to take them (legislators) aside, look them squarely in the eyes and as politely and as clearly as you can deliver this message: If you can’t find a way to make educating our children YOUR top priority , then I’ll find a way to make replacing you MINE!” It is my hope that those of you that are connected to our public education will act on this sage advice.
Now that Spring Break is gone and the legislature wasting a week of tax payers’ money by pretending that we were at work, it is time for the House and Senate Committees to “put their big boy pants on and go to work.” One of the first issues they will be faced with is legislation singling out our state’s teachers who happen to belong to an organization where they have representation to negotiate work conditions with the local boards of education. The legislation that is moving through is HB 1749 which passed the full House and has advanced through its first Senate Committee. This bill would prohibit the automatic payroll deduction of dues for groups engaged in collective bargaining after Nov. 1. This has been done without a lot of fanfare since the 1970s but now the state leaders see this as a conspiracy of “teachers against the state.” Where this becomes misleading is that its proponents claim that they are attempting to stop labor organizations or unions as they are incorrectly called from negotiating against the state. There never has been any documented “negotiations” between the State Board of Education and the Oklahoma Education Association. There are several local school boards and local Association groups that negotiate at the local level. Perhaps the authors of this legislation need to re-visit their geography text books to understand the difference between the state and local school districts. It almost seems to me that they are using the old idea that if one tells a lie often enough it will be accepted as the truth. Let me say it again for those state leaders who appear to lack the ability to understand, “Local teacher organizations do not negotiate against the state.” In addition, please be aware that they do not negotiate “against” but negotiate “with.” Wow!! Those are tough concepts to grasp. If students were as “hard headed as their state elected leaders, teachers would be worn out at the end of the day.
In the House Common Education’s meeting to consider testing proposals coming out of the Senate we spent a lengthy period with a few members attempting to place the legislature in-charge of formulating state academic standards and then being responsible for establishing the assessments to measure these standards. There is an apparent fear that the State Board of Education and the State Department of Education lack the ability to master these two separate tasks. The clue to Rep. Nelson and his followers on this committee is that they do not understand that those creating the standards are not the same as those who create the assessment tools. It became a point of frustration for me when Rep. Nelson continued to refer to these two issues, standards and assessment, as to their alignment. As I pointed out one does not refer to this as “alignment” but rather it is their percentage of “correlation” for which there is a specific formula/equation to determine the compatibility between the two. Perhaps it’s OK for those wanting to establish laws concerning assessment and standards if they use incorrect terminology that lack mathematical formulas to arrive at an accurate answer. If these legislative leaders had ever conducted classes and assessed their students in such inaccurate manners, I would presume that the building administrator would have them on a plan for improvement after the first series of parent visits took place.

If you would like to have my weekly Notes sent to by email each week, please contact me at the address below. If you wish to contact me, please utilize any of the following: PO Box 98, Porum, OK 74455, by email at ed.cannaday@okhouse.gov, home phone: 918 484 5701, cell: 918 448 5702 or Legislative Assistant, Gene Fowler, at 1 800 522 8502 or 405 557 7375 and fax 405 962 7624 at the Capitol. Web Site http://www.edcannaday.com Ed Cannaday

8th Journal Entry of the First Legislative Session of the 55th Legislature

March 26th, 2015

It was somewhat shocking to realize that a Republican authored bill calling for the expansion of health care coverage was passed out of the House unanimously. I was excited to join in this effort to have Oklahoma demonstrate concerns for those of our citizens who do not fit the norm that our state’s leaders traditionally wish to ignore. HB 1617 by Rep. Derby, R- Owasso, provides that no health benefit plan shall deny coverage for medically necessary treatment prescribed by a physician based solely on an insured’s life expectancy or the fact that the insured is diagnosed with a terminal condition. Let’s hope that the Senate keeps this bill moving on to the Governor.
After a lengthy period of questions and debate the House passed HB1696 out of the House on a 61 yes to 32 no vote. The title was removed on this proposed legislation so that it is subject to change. My floor debate and vote against this was that it opens up the opportunity for a local school site to be converted into a charter school which would allow them to operate without the same level of regulations that are mandated on our public schools. Rep. Denny R-Cushing, the author claimed that this would allow a low performing elementary school within a district with four such sites in that district to be reconstructed into a charter school. If the local school board of that district votes to reject the proposal by a charter school sponsor then the latter can appeal to the State Office of Education and Accountability which is chaired by the Secretary of Education. How’s that for local control? In addition, I have a problem because most of our state’s rural legislative districts do not have school districts with multiple elementary, middle, or high school sites. So why are we putting all of our public schools on a slippery slope to undermine our school districts and encourage state funds to be removed from the local level to a pseudo public school sponsor. We need all of our educators to keep track of this as it goes to the Senate Committees.
I co-authored Rep. Billy’s, R-Lindsay, proposed legislation, HB 1630, which would help resolve problems in our local county jails that are certified to house Department of Corrections inmates but are often overlooked by DOC officials at the very same time that they are being assigned to private facilities. The following language is very critical to several of our county facilities, “Prior to contracting with a private prison operator to provide housing for state inmates, the Department shall send notification to all county jails in this state that bed space is required to house the over flow population of state inmates. Upon receiving notification, the sheriff of a county jail is authorized to enter into agreements with the Department to provide housing for said inmates.” DOC will be responsible for the cost of housing the inmate in the county jail from the date the judgment and sentence was ordered by the court until the date the inmate is scheduled to be transferred to the Department from the county jail.
As the legislature moves into the phase of considering bills that have passed out of the Senate, we are also beginning to hear sound-bites about the negative aspects of the budget for next year. First, House Speaker Jeff Hickman stated that, “Wwe were lowering the tax burden while making sure there is sufficient revenue growth to fund core government services.” Really? How does that hold water in light of the fact that we have a $611 million shortage in revenue this year? The tax cut will enhance the average Oklahoma household a whopping $29 per year and over 40 percent of them will receive no tax relief. This will be balanced with our state prison facilities being understaffed while teachers and state employees will be asked to go another year without an increase in salaries. In addition, we hear that the Governor and budget leaders are looking at revenue that has been going into the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) as a possible source of money to be put in the hands of legislators to spend. This approach of taking away money dedicated to the TRS is reflective of the “sins of the past” where teachers’ retirement savings were diverted away to help fund other functions of government.

If you would like to have my weekly Notes sent to by email each week, please contact me at the address below. If you wish to contact me, please utilize any of the following: PO Box 98, Porum, OK 74455, by email at ed.cannaday@okhouse.gov, home phone: 918 484 5701, cell: 918 448 5702 or Legislative Assistant, Gene Fowler, at 1 800 522 8502 or 405 557 7375 and fax 405 962 7624 at the Capitol. Web Site http://www.edcannaday.com Ed Cannaday
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