Public Policy Newsletter: March 12th, 2019

Public Policy Newsletter: March 12th, 2019

We are past the halfway point of the 90-day Legislative Session in Annapolis, and some big deadlines are ahead! Next Monday, March 18th, will mark the 69th day of Session, which is the Opposite Bill Crossover Date. This means that bills must be passed out of either the House or Senate, and sent to the opposite chamber, by this date; any bills that miss this critical deadline will be sent to the Rules Committee where they have an added hurdle to moving forward.

Family League is working around-the-clock to advance policies that will support Baltimore’s children and youth. Check out our 2019 Legislative Priorities Packet to learn more about the work we’re doing and the bills we’re helping to move this year.

Each issue of our newsletter will focus on one of Maryland’s 8 Child Well-Being Results Areas. In this issue, we focus on Children are Successful in School. This includes our work on issues like the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education’s (commonly known as the “Kirwan Commission”) and in coalitions like the Coalition to Reform School Discipline.

Most recently, we’ve supported an effort to strengthen the use of restorative approaches in schools. Led by the Coalition to Reform School Discipline, HB 725 / SB 766 Public Schools – Student Discipline – Restorative Approaches requires a school principal to implement restorative approaches, rehabilitation, special education, or other supportive service interventions before suspending or expelling a student. Each county Board of Education would also be required to develop a multiyear plan for the adoption, implementation, and continued monitoring of restorative approaches to student discipline. HB 725 draws directly from the recommendations of the Maryland Commission on the School-to-Prison Pipeline and Restorative Practices and would establish a framework for local education agencies across the state to implement a thoughtful and robust approach to restorative practices in schools. Family League was honored to support this effort with written testimony for both hearings.

Additionally, this past week we joined the efforts to strengthen the Community School Strategy across Maryland. SB 661 / HB 733 would establish a standard, best practices-informed definition of the Community School strategy for Maryland. These bills would set Maryland at the forefront of the national education landscape, showing a deep commitment to the efficacy and impact of the Community School strategy. The timing is incredibly pertinent as the Kirwan Commission recommendations include a significant investment in Community Schools in areas of concentrated poverty across the state.

Community School advocates stand with Delegate Eric Ebersole after the hearing for HB 733. City Councilman Zeke Cohen came and testified about how the strategy is working in Baltimore City.

Update on the Kirwan Commission

Last week, after many weeks of anticipation this Session, the Kirwan Commission released their 2019 bill, the The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (Senate Bill 1030 / House Bill 1413). The bills have been fast-tracked with a press conference held last Tuesday (see coverage here) and the first hearing in the Senate the following day. Watch the full hearing here.

It is important to note that this is being treated as a starter year, or “down payment,” for the Commission’s full recommendations. While the bill increases significantly the state’s education funding obligations, future years will see additional bills that are expected to go much deeper into the recommendations of the Commission’s interim report. We are monitoring the hearings and progression of the bills very closely, including how they impact early childhood education (including funding for Judy Centers, the Infants and Toddlers Program, and expanded pre-K) and grants for implementation of Community Schools for schools in areas of concentrated poverty.

The next Kirwan hearing is Wednesday, 3/13 at 1pm, and will be held in the Joint Hearing Room and livestreamed here under the “Joint Hearing Room” tab on the bottom right of the page.

Questions?

If you have questions about any of our priority areas, or want to get involved in our advocacy efforts in Annapolis this year, please email Matt Quinlan, Public Policy Manager, at mquinlan@familyleague.org.

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