2015 Federal Issues

SAM Affiliates have reviewed SAM's Positions and Resolutions as they relate to Federal Issues and Congress and developed the following resources for SAM members to use when discussing federal issues in 2015...
One page document for use on Federal issues -- SAM Federal Issues Statement of Support 2015
Full document of SAM Federal Positions and Resolutions -- SAM Federal Issue Positions 2015 
ESSA Implementation in Montana
ESEA Reauthorization 2015
Information from AASA on 12-22-15 as ESSA implementation is beginning to be looked at ...
House, Senate Conferees Endorse Deal to Replace NCLB -- Washington Post November 19, 2015 
ESEA AASA Conference Overview 11-19-15 -- A look at what is contained in the Congressional framework that reconciles the House and Senate ESEA bills.
SAM has submitted letters of support for the Reauthorization of ESEA to our Congressional Delegation on November 16, 2015.  Click our Congressman's name to review the letters -- Senator TesterSenator Daines , Congressman Zinke

November 17, 2015

House Moves Toward K-12 Education 
Conference Committee
Speaker Ryan appoints House Republican conferees
WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) issued the following statement today after the House of Representatives approved a motion to go to conference on reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) appointed House Republican conferees:

Today, the House took an important step forward in our effort to improve K-12 education and replace No Child Left Behind. I am confident the conference committee can reach agreement on a final bill that Congress will pass and the president will sign into law. I look forward to working with my fellow conferees as they offer their views and ideas to strengthen education.

Following House-passage of the motion to go to conference, Speaker Ryan appointed the following Republican members to serve on the House-Senate conference committee:

  • Rep. John Kline (R-MN), chairman, Committee on Education and the Workforce
  • Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), chairman, Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education
  • Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC)
  • Rep. David P. Roe (R-TN)
  • Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA)
  • Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY)
  • Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN)
  • Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK)
  • Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL)
  • Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI)
News from AASA's Noelle Ellerson on 11-12-15
Big news re ESEA: Senate HELP and House Education and the Workforce leadership have reached a deal on ESEA and are now drafting it into legislative language. The House next week on Tuesday or Wednesday is expected to appoint conferees. There is likely to be an official conference meeting after that next week to ratify the deal. The timeline calls for the conference report to be filed on Monday, 11/30 and voted on the House floor on 12/2. Then the Senate floor.

Read related story:  Education Week ESEA Article 11-13-15

SAM members have actively participated in promoting the reauthorization of the Elementary and Seconday Education Act (ESEA) currently known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).  The act is over 8 years past due for reauthorization and currently bills have passed both the House and the Senate to reauthorize. In the fall of 2015, a conference committee will consider the House and Senate versions and develop a recommendation for reauthorization that will hopefully pass both houses and on to the president for signature.  Click HERE (July 2015) to review the letter sent to the Montana congressional delegation stating the SAM position on reauthorization.  Hopefully we will be rid of NCLB and have a reauthorization before the presidential election. 
Check out what the the National Associations are saying about ESEA Reauthorization -- click ESEA Reauthorization Status of National Associations 1-26-15 
Educator Recruitment and Retention 2015
SAM has worked with Senator Tester as he crafted the Rural Educator Support and Training Act (REST Act).  The intention is to incentivize recruitment and retention of quality educators for rural schools like we have in Montana.  Click HERE to read the article announcing the REST Act.  Click HERE to review the section summary of this legislation, and HERE to review the Act.
E-Rate Issues and Broadband Access for Schools 2015
Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Tom Wheeler, visited Montana on October 13 in a round table discussion at Fairfield School.  At the urging of Senators Tester and Daines, Chairman Wheeler came to Montana and held listening sessions in order to discuss the changes to E-Rate funding promoted by the FCC and to meet with telecommunications providers.  The leadership of Fairfield schools provided an outstanding overview of the impact of changes to Category 1 and Category 2 E-Rate funding for the Chairman.  SAM contributed statewide information of the impact to schools on the phase out of phone and cell phone funding in order to increase funding for internal connections at schools.  We were also able to discuss additional funding available for Broadband connectivity for schools and libraries.  Click HERE to read an article reflecting this dialogue with Chairman Wheeler. 
Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) Report
SAM has requested that the Montana Congressional Delegation assist in changing the onerous requirements of the Office of Civil Rights bi-annual Data Collection (CRDC) report.  As a result of the request of Montana superintendents, see the SENATOR TESTER (9/14/15) letter and the SENATOR DAINES (10/13/15) letter to the OCR.  AASA's federal relations directors are working with other States' congressional delegations to follow suit with what Montana's delegation has done in order to require changes prior to the 2017 CRDC!  Thanks SAM members for your effort to make this change at the federal level.  
2016 Proposed Federal Budget
Update from AASA on 12-22-15

Last week, President Obama signed a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill for Fiscal Year 2016, officially avoiding a shutdown this year. The bill includes slight increases to education – a $1.2 billion increase overall. It includes a $500 million increase to Title I and a $415 million increase to IDEA as well as increases in Head Start, charter school grants, NAEP, rural education and others. School Improvement Grant funding was cut and Investing in Innovation (i3) was flat-funded. The Committee on Education Funding put out a table of the spending levels, available here.  

While not funding-related, the bill also included a two year delay for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act Excise (“Cadillac”) Tax and an extension of the E-Rate Anti-Deficiency Act exemption through 2017.

Update from AASA Executive Director Dan Domenech on 11-13-15
From the appropriations angle, Congress avoided a shutdown. The continuing resolution policy makers passed to keep government running expires December 11. The CR deal also raised the debt ceiling through March 2017 and raised the overall funding levels for FY16 and FY17 to above-sequester levels, staving off deep, deep cuts. The threat of shutdown was averted, and the chambers have resumed their work of moving a complete appropriations bill in advance of the looming CR deadline.

Congress is not in the clear though. The appropriations bills will be ripe with policy riders, priorities outside of funding work that members attach to bills. These riders can be bipartisan or highly divisive and they cover the gamut. As a point of context, in the 12 appropriations bills introduced in the Senate this year alone, there were more than 550 (!) policy riders. The threat of shutdown during the remaining appropriations process is present, but it is over policy riders, not appropriations itself.

IDEA Reauthorization and Funding
SAM remains very active in its efforts to urge Congress to avoid, repeal and replace sequester. Through the effort of our Affiliate Federal Relations Coordinators and SAM Delegate Assembly Steering Committee, SAM has signed on (8/5/15) to a letter  with other organizations like education that require nondefense discretionary (NDD) funding, urging replacement/repeal of sequester and the damaging/very limiting budget caps put in place by the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA).
On February 2, 2015 the President released the 2016 Proposed Budget -- click HERE  to review the AASA Response to the President's Proposed Budget.