The session ended this past weekend and this post contains an updated version of my column that appeared last week in the Journal. Here are some of the highlights regarding legislation aimed at helping our young people. All of these bills are completed legislation.
I am particularly pleased with HB4092 and HB4094. These bills address issues relating to foster care. HB4092 establishes a foster care Bill of Rights for both foster parents and children while HB4092 clarifies the role of the Ombudsman. The intent of both bills is to address the needs of the most vulnerable children in the system and are expected to pass before the session ends tomorrow.
We made further progress in the field of education this session. HB 4519 creates a summer youth intern program with the Department of Commerce and HB 4790 extends Career and Technical Education classes into middle schools so that our students may begin exploring and preparing for careers early on. Both have passed. This week HB3127, known as the “Tim Tebow Bill” passed allowing homeschooled students equal access to extracurricular activities, including sports.
Regarding the shortage of teachers, HB4691 originated in committee in the House. It allows newly graduated teachers to be recruited and fast tracked by local school boards to be placed into teaching positions in critical need subjects. In the Senate I was the lead sponsor of SB623 that allows qualified non-citizens to become certified teachers. That legislation has already been signed into law.
Regarding higher education I was the lead sponsor of SB760 providing administrative and financial exemptions for qualified institutions of higher learning allowing for greater autonomy and therefore greater opportunities to innovate.
I am lead sponsor of HB303, Enacting the Student’s Right to Know. It is bipartisan and passed both houses without a single vote against. It ensures that students get the knowledge they need to make good choices regarding potential career paths. After all, knowledge is what education is all about.