End of Lame Duck Session Focuses on Autism, Tenure, Pure Michigan

By: Alex Goldsmith Email
By: Alex Goldsmith Email

The State Senate wants new ways to evaluate teachers up for tenure. A proposed law that cleared the Michigan Senate 21-14 Wednesday is up for a vote in the House before the time runs out on this legislative session.

The bill would tie 45 percent of teacher evaluations to the academic achievement of their students. Teachers unions are strongly opposed to the legislation.

"The current bill puts too much emphasis on attendance, student test data, things that are completely out of control of the teachers," said Doug Pratt, Director of Public Affairs for the Michigan Education Association. "Doing something as complex as tenure and evaluation during a lame duck session is not a good way to do public policy."

Squeezed into a busy lame duck day were farewell speecehes for legislators. During Rep. Kathy Angerer's (D) speech, she made an impassioned plea for a bill that would mandate autism insurance statewide.

After being told the bill was being stalled in the State Senate, Angerer and Lieutenant Governor-elect Brian Calley headed across chambers to the Senate to plead their case and overcome procedural issues.

"We need to make sure these senators understand how important this vote is to the families in the state of Michigan," said Angerer. "There's so many people affected by this disorder and that's why it's important to finish this legislation now and put it on the Governor's desk."

But even though the bill passed the House 83-25, it has its opponents in the Senate.

"This is a serious condition for which we all have sympathy," said Sen. Tom George (R). "But to pick it out among the basket of conditions that aren't covered or for which insurance is inadequate is just unfair."

Meanwhile, the Senate passed a bill that allows $10 million in funds allocated to the 21st Century Jobs Fund to be moved to fund the Pure Michigan campaign. That bill is waiting on approval in the House.

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