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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7th Journal Entry of the First Legislative Session of the 55th Legislature

March 18th, 2015

This Journal will be dedicated in attempting to explain some of the rather unusual processes that legislation takes as it makes its way to eventually becoming a law or statute. Fortunately the process is not always as bizarre as the example I am going to share with you. Let me preface this by saying that this story provides the absolute worst aspect of politics and perhaps the best. By this I mean absolute examples of both the deceitful actions of some political figures while others in a similar role of authority attempt to serve the constituents of the state in a spirit of cooperation rather than deceit.
Let me take you back to my Sixth Journal where I referred to a bill that I filed, HB1027, and which passed out of Common Education Committee on 13 to 1 vote and co-authored by Rep. Casey, R-Morrison. The one no vote becomes more telling as the story develops. As I indicated this would call for placing a hold for two years on the “Student Academic Performance” portion of the new state mandated teacher evaluations sometimes referred to as the Quantifiable portion of this process. This makes up 50% of a teacher’s evaluation and has been the source of considerable concern for school administration and teachers alike. These problems have been documented by a company employed by our Dept. of Education under the leadership of newly elected State Superintendent of Education, Joy Hofmeister. Based on this recent research, Superintendent Hofmeister led the Teacher/Leader Effectiveness Commission to recommend a reassessment of this Quantifiable portion the teacher assessment. As a member of this Commission, it was within this context that I filed HB1027 and it passed out of committee with Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, casting the single no vote.
While I did not place a lot of significance on his no vote, I did notice that, as Assistant Floor Leader, he let two weeks go by before calling it up for a vote on the full House Floor. Since there was a deadline to have House bills heard by the end of last week and that left only four days, Rep. Casey and I approached him on his failure to call the bill up for consideration. His response was that he was concerned that the language in the bill could jeopardize Oklahoma’s waiver from federal education law, No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Upon being informed of this I e-mailed a copy of the bill to U.S. Dept. of Education and contacted members of their staff to set up a conference call between them and Rep. Casey and myself. This call took place within 48 hours of this portion of the House Session ending. As a result of this call and confirmation that there was not a problem with the language, I went to Rep. Nelson with this news anticipating that he would immediately place HB 1027 on the Floor Calendar since any delay would keep this much need legislation from moving forward. To my shock and amazement he said that his real problem was with my Senate author, Senator Garrison, D-Muskogee. Had I known that, I would have asked Senator Garrison to allow me to pick another Senator since this legislation was needed for the TLE Commission to move forward with reforms. Rep. Casey and I were equally upset by this immature game played by Rep. Nelson.
Here is where it takes a positive turn. Rep. Casey brought the situation up with the Presiding Floor Leader, Rep. Ortega, R-Altus, and this resulted in a meeting with myself, Casey, Ortega, and Minority Leader, Rep. Inman. Rep. Inman was adamant that HB 1027 be heard even though the 24 hour clock had passed. Following this meeting all of us except Leader Inman were called to meet with Speaker Hickman. In this meeting Rep. Casey suggested he remove the language of one of his bills, HB 1290, and amend it with HB 1027 language. His bill had problems and probably would not be heard even though it was on the Calendar. We all four agreed to this procedure and that was actually done in the late hours of March 11th. It passed on a vote of 79 yes 15 no and is headed to the Senate as HB 1290 with me being its primary author. I share this real-life political drama to demonstrate two dominant forces at work in our state politics. One is pure immature pettiness on the part of the Assistant Floor Leader and secondly an example of real leadership by those setting politics aside and attempting to allow legislation through so that our Supt. of Education and the TLE Commission followed by the State Board of Education could fix a major problem that would have had a negative impact on our schools, teachers, and students.

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

6th Journal Entry of the First Legislative Session of the 55th Legislature

March 12th, 2015

As we enter the last week of the House considering legislation that has been passed out of the House Committees, the pace picks up and the hours on the Floor grow longer and more intense. Any bill that passes beyond this point goes immediately to the Senate for their committees to consider. This is why we must be very vigilant because from this point forward we lose all control over them. A case in point was HB 1589 by Rep. Ann Coody, R-Lawton which would increase the state mandated high school math courses required for graduation from three to four. The basis for my debate against this bill was that this was having the state take another step in removing local control of our education curriculum. Does the state know best what students needs are to move on to their next level? I say no!! Our local teachers, administrators and boards of education acting in consultation with parents should make that decision based on the student’s post-high school plans. This is another example of lawmakers saying that they are against big government but when it comes to their proposed legislation they seem to ignore the fact that they are again demonstrating their tendency to lack consistency between what they claim to believe and how they actually vote. I am grateful for the Republican members who ignored their leaders and voted with the Democrat members to defeat this ill-advised piece of legislation by a vote of 50 to 32.
There are several issues coming before us that will have an impact on our public schools in the future. One issue that I have previously discussed in my Journals is the concern over testing requirements. Specifically what should our schools use to measure “student academic achievement” and thereby the schools’ and teachers’ effectiveness in achieving this goal. At the high school level we have used End of Instruction Exams over designated courses. However, we are now considering a more diverse range of measurements. One of these is the ACT which is used by higher education institutions to decide if students entering colleges have to take “0” level or non-credit courses to correct an academic weakness that the student demonstrates on this assessment tool. We often hear the radical wing of the legislature proclaim that we cannot use this measurement because it (the ACT) is similar to the Common Core Assessment that several states have recently agreed to use as a form of measurement relating to students’ achievement standards. My response to this concern is that this approach is as redundant as telling a parent that they have similar features or qualities as their children. What is meant is, “The children have qualities similar to that of their parents.” In other words ACT has been an operational measurement tool long before Common Core was ever developed and/or politicized as being the “brain-child” of our current US President. If we can get away from playing politics with education, maybe we can make some progress. However, to do this we need to place the “student academic achievement” or quantifiable portion of our teachers’ evaluation format on hold for at least two years while we re-assess the tools we use and how effective they are at measuring students’ readiness for their next level of education or career. I have legislation that has passed out of Common Education Committee on a vote of 13 to 1 which calls for such a delay and has been co-authored by Rep. Casey, R-Morrisson and a former educator. However, the House leadership wants me to insure that this will not jeopardize our current waiver from the No Child Left Behind (NCLB). As a result of this rather curious requirement, I have contacted the US Dept. of Education for a ruling on this question.
This week the House sent to the Senate, House Joint Resolution 1019 which if passed by the Senate and signed by the Governor will go to a vote of the people. This will allow the Governor and Lt. Governor to be elected as a team. I am in favor of this in that it will make the state executive branch accountable as a compatible team rather than being vulnerable to divisive swings in our state 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 As

5th Journal Entry of the First Legislative Session of the 55th Legislature

March 6th, 2015

As we begin to finish House sponsored committee legislation I would like to share a disappointing vote in Common Ed where Rep. Henke, R-Tulsa, presented HB 1522 which amends the A-F grading system by including student achievement results of schools that directly or indirectly receive revenue from the state for financial support of public schools. This addresses those schools participating in the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship program. While I was not surprised at all the Democrats voting for this bill, it was rather shocking to watch those Republicans, who claim to be supportive of public schools, vote against it. Surely their constituents will hold them accountable since their vote (8-yes and 8-no) insured that those schools receiving your tax dollars are not being held accountable for their use of this state revenue. I still do not understand their thinking that they receive state funds but do not have to be like our public schools and be accountable for the effectiveness of their use of this tax revenue.
A bill that was heard by the full House that concerns me is HB 1965 by Rep. O’Donnell, R-Tulsa. It passed by a very wide margin (96-2) in part because it did nothing and makes one voting for it feel like they are doing something to solve a major problem. Specifically, I am speaking of “texting and driving” which has never acquired the status of a “primary” cause for a traffic stop by law enforcement officials. We argued and even tried to amend this bill to allow this violation to constitute a primary rather than secondary offense. This legislation was amended to be named after a Highway Patrolman who was recently killed by a driver who was actively involved in Facebook messaging at the time of his killing the trooper that was working a situation on an interstate highway. According to this bill a trooper could not have stopped this driver based on observing his texting or inattentive driving without his having violated some other law that would constitute a “primary” violation. Thirty-six other states have resolved this issue and have passed laws making texting and driving a primary cause for a traffic stop. Why Oklahoma cannot reach that level of respecting their law enforcement personnel is beyond my ability to understand.
I would like to revisit my last Journal where I had shared with you that the Teacher/Leader Effectiveness (TLE) Commission that I serve on had advised the State Board of Education (SBE) to place all of the 50% of the teacher evaluation known as the “Quantifiable” or Student Academic Performance portion on hold for two years. Instead of following the Commission’s advice, the SBE voted to merely postpone for this school year one portion of the Quantifiable: the Student Learner Objectives (SLO), or the 35% for those teachers not teaching in state mandated testing areas. In our February Commission meeting, we voted unanimously to have the SBE do the following: (1) delay implementation of the entire quantitative component for two years; (2) maintain the five tier rating system of the qualitative; (3) keep the Value Added Method (VAM) where applicable; (4) eliminate Other Academic Measures (OAM); and (5) report quantitative measures, as available to teachers and leaders for information purposes ONLY until 2016-17 (6) begin using quantitative measure for evaluation purposes, as available, beginning 2017-18. The question to my readers is the following: “Why did the SBE flagrantly ignore the advice of the Commission which is given the responsibility and authority to advise the SBE on TLE issues?” One must keep in mind that the State Superintendent of Education, Mrs. Hofmeister, is also the Chair of the TLE Commission and equally chairs the SBE. In addition I am troubled by the effect this convoluted message will have on decisions being made at the local school district levels. There are some concerns that some members of the SBE are not aware that Janet Barresi is so longer the State School Superintendent.

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 As

4th Journal Entry of the First Legislative Session of the 55th Legislature

February 26th, 2015

The third week of session was dominated by work on Education issues in both the Common education Committee and the House itself. There were three pieces of legislation that resulted in considerable controversy. HB 2003, by Rep. Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, referred to as the “Educational Savings Account.” was a very dangerous bill which would allow a parent to receive up to 90% of their child’s State Department of Education “Weighted Average Daily Membership” funds to be used in private, charter, or home school education. This money could even be accumulated by the parents to eventually be used for college expenses. This would have constituted a direct attack on the funding of all of our public schools without any evidence of accountability. This bill was defeated by a tied vote but the word is that it will be brought up in another form probably coming from the Senate. A Committee bill, HB 1380 by Rep. Fisher, R-Yukon, became known as “an attack on local control of education.” Specifically, this bill calls for the State Dept. of Education to prevent any local board of education to offer Advanced Placement in U.S. History. As a former teacher of this subject at Stigler High School, I was shocked that the author who had never taught this course filed a bill that was designed to destroy the opportunity of Oklahoma students to experience a course in which they can receive 3 hours of college credit from a college or university in the U.S. upon scoring adequately on a nationally normed exam. In fact, last year 1,170 Oklahoma students qualified for this credit. The argument used by the author and those voting for this was that it may allow some students to express negative thoughts about this nation’s history. Several former students that had taken this class from me texted me wanting to know “what those voting for this bill were either smoking or drinking.” This was such an embarrassment to this state that it went viral and was on several national news reports. Another scary bill, HB 1749 by Rep. Newell R-Seminole, was passed by the full House and will go to the Senate and again was voted along party lines, and would prevent the State Department of Education from allowing teachers to have their membership dues for Oklahoma Education Association taken out of their monthly checks. Those voting for this claimed the teachers should not be allowed to authorize this since the OEA negotiates “against” the state. That is not true. If there are any negotiations, it is between their local organization and the district in which they teach. It is also against state law for them to go on strike. Maybe this bill was motivated by those who mistakenly believe that most teachers are registered Democrats. Whatever their ideas were, it is not true to say that OEA negotiates “against” the state. If you want to get rid of this organization build your arguments on the truth-not lies.
Let’s move on to something positive in education for a change. In the Teacher/Leader Effectiveness Commission meeting we had the responsibility to resolve the issue of how teachers are to be evaluated based on Student Academic Performance which constitutes 50% of a teacher’s evaluation. We had to remove some of the former Board’s language that was not legislated or approved by the Commission. Next we voted to remove the 15% portion which was Other Academic Measures that was made up of a laundry list of items such as attendance and graduation rates. These were considered not “high stakes” assessment. We also voted to place the implementation of this area on hold for two years and then fully implement it in 2017/18. These were recommendations to the State Board, not to the legislature.

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