Statehouse Update: Entering the Home Stretch
And, just like that, the last round of committee meetings for the 2023 legislative session came and went last week. The House also completed its second reading deadline last Thursday. Here’s where we stand on a couple key topics of importance to business success and economic development.
Child Care / Early Childhood Education
Education bill HB 1591, which now carries On My Way Pre-K program language, was heard on deadline day in the Senate Appropriations Committee last week and was slightly amended but passed out of committee. The language that would end the pilot designation for On My Way (making it a full-fledged program), the language ending the local match requirement, and the language regarding updates to Paths to Quality remain in the bill. We anticipate that, due to some of the changes in committee this week, this bill may go to conference committee.
The state budget, HB 1001, was heard in the Senate Appropriations committee this week where the Senate adopted an amendment that laid out the Senate majority’s proposed budget plan. Some Senate changes to early learning and childcare included:
- Changed the income eligibility threshold from 127% of Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to 150% of FPL. The House version of the budget and the Governor’s proposal was to move from 127% of FPL to 138% of FPL. This extra movement should allow several thousands more families to potentially access the program.
- The House increase in the cap for On My Way Pre-K awards was removed from the Senate’s version of the budget. The House version raised those caps from $6,800 to $7,500.
- The Senate’s version did not include the extra $5M in appropriations for On My Way in year 2 of the budget. The budget does include, however, a tax credit to incentivize the creation or expansion of employer supported child care programs (either on-site or in collaboration with local providers), with the focus being on supporting small to mid-sized businesses in these efforts. This tax credit is funded at $5M over the biennium.
We will continue to advocate for enhanced child care support for both families and employers over the next week.
We have been following workforce-driven HB 1002 which aims to restructure the high school diploma. It was heard in the Senate Appropriations committee this week where it was almost completely stripped. The amendment removes all provisions of the bill except the career advising grant program and fund, which students could use for workforce training.
We previously reported that HB 1451 increases the amount of earnings someone drawing unemployment insurance may receive if they are working part-time while looking for full time work. The bill passed on third reading with a 42-0 vote. It has been signed by the Senate President Pro Tempore and Speaker of the House, and it moves to the Governor’s desk for a final signature.
HB 1528 aims to address teacher shortages and allows for a scholarship of up $10,000 for remaining education needed for teachers’ license. The bill passed on third reading with a 48-0 vote and has been returned to the House where a motion to concur or dissent will be filed.
Third and final readings are this week. Any bill that did not make it through its respective deadline is considered dead. With that said, all bill language, regardless of the bill’s status, is considered “alive” if it passed one chamber. This means that we will likely see some language reappear in conference committees. Aspire’s lobbying team will stay engaged at the end of session closely as deals are made.