What to watch for as Legislature reconvenes for 2018 session
The California Senate and Assembly returned to work in Sacramento on Wednesday, Jan. 3, convening the second year of the current 2017–18 session.
Among the stacks of bills which did not pass the Legislature in 2017 (known as “two-year bills”) are a variety of measures affecting K-12 education. CSBA currently has a position on more than 60 of these bills and will continue our advocacy efforts on each as we enter the 2018 session.

Also in 2018, President pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) will term out, making way for Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) to fill the Senate’s top leadership position. Atkins will be the first woman to serve in that role. The Senate is slated to officially vote for its next pro Tem this month.

2018 also marks the final year in office for Gov. Jerry Brown, and the new administration in 2019 may dictate the flow of several remaining 2017–18 bills. In particular, there is speculation in the Capitol that the current administration is unlikely to make significant investments in new programs or make substantial changes to the Charter Schools Act of 1992.

“It is likely that there will be several bills related to charter schools — particularly in regard to authorizations — in the Legislature this year, but it remains to be seen how far they will advance,” said CSBA Legislative Advocate Carlos Machado. “There is quite a bit of interest around charters at the Capitol right now, and there is a general agreement that there are issues to be addressed, but little consensus on what solutions to those issues will look like.”

Among the active bills pertaining to charters is Assembly Bill 1478 (Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles), which would require charter compliance with the Brown Act, Public Records Act, Political Reform Act and Government Code 1090; previous legislation has been passed but vetoed by Gov. Brown and prior administrations. Senate Bill 765 (Wiener, D-San Francisco), which would allow charters the right of first refusal to purchase surplus property from school districts, could also return to the Assembly Education Committee.

SB 328 (Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge) is likely to return in 2018 after it stalled on the Assembly Floor in September on a 26-30 vote, with 23 members abstaining. The bill would prohibit all middle and high schools in California from starting classes before 8:30 a.m.

While CSBA does not oppose earlier start times, CSBA remains opposed to a statewide mandate on school start times, as decisions over school schedules are a matter of local control which should be made by local boards.

Another issue likely to re-emerge is that of willful defiance. SB 607 (Skinner, D-Berkeley), which came down to the final days of the 2017 session, would permanently prohibit the use of willful defiance as a reason to expel students in grades K-5 and extend the prohibition of willful defiance as a reason for suspending or expelling students in grades 6-12 until 2023.

AB 233 (Gloria, D-San Diego), which would limit the authority of local governing boards to establish and enforce cohesive graduation dress codes, was vetoed by Gov. Brown in October, but this issue also could re-emerge.

The issue of teacher probation is an annual topic of conversation in the Legislature. While it is possible that AB 1220 (Weber, D-San Diego), which would add a third probationary year for beginning teachers, could be brought back up after being held in the Senate Education Committee, it also is highly possible that other bills will be introduced in 2018.

During the January and February bill introduction period, new legislation could include special education funding, career and technical education, early education and pupil mental health. On or before Jan. 10, the initial 2018–19 budget proposal will be released, offering a glimpse of whether these and other issues might be successful in securing necessary funding.

In its November Fiscal Outlook, the Legislative Analyst Office estimated that the total 2017–18 Proposition 98 guarantee will come in $651 million higher than the enacted June budget, and that the Proposition 98 guarantee will grow by $2.6 billion. Factoring in year-to-year growth and other adjustments, an estimated $5.3 billion would be available for K-14 expenditure in 2018–19. If this amount or a comparable amount of funding is available, it will likely increase pressure on the administration and the Legislature to fully fund the Local Control Funding Formula, which the LAO opines could be done with this forthcoming budget.

The Senate and Assembly have until Jan. 31 to hear and pass existing bills introduced in their house last year and move the bills to the second house for consideration. Legislators have until Jan. 19 to submit new bill requests to Legislative Counsel, with the introduction deadline for new bills on Feb. 16.