Amendments to the 21st Century School Facilities Act are under review by the House Appropriations Committee, with a vote expected soon. Substantial amendments have been discussed by the Committee over the past few days.
On March 20th, a Joint House and Senate Work Group met to review amendments submitted on HB 1783. Today, March 21st, the Committee met to review a re-print of the bill that included several amendments.
The biggest news over the past couple of days is an amendment that would pull the Interagency Committee of School Construction (IAC) out from underneath the Board of Public Works, introduced by the Chair of the House Appropriations Committee.
The amendment revises the membership of the IAC, and sets forth the IAC as an independent body with authority to develop policies, procedures, guidelines, and regulations on state school construction allocations.
The second biggest action on the bill relates to language regarding the indexing of schools according to facility needs. Using an index for state funding decisions may threaten local determination of needs, and could mean those districts that regularly fund and properly maintain their schools receive less state support.
The Committee is currently considering reworking the language regarding indexing to include several references to local priorities. In addition, MACo, and associations of boards of education (MABE) and superintendents (PSSAM) remain represented in the work group that the bill sets forth to determine whether and how any assessment is used for funding decisions.
MACo has also made progress on several amendments sought by county governments, including changes to alternative financing laws to reduce hurdles to public private partnerships in school construction.
Stay tuned for more day-by-day updates on this sweeping legislation affecting a top county priority.