Lobbying and Federal Legislative Reports–February 2012

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Lobbying on Capitol Hill: NEA Directors Terrie Tudor, Jim Grimes, Eric Brown, Alex Wallace, Tom Tully, Joyce Bailey, Vickie Mahrt, and Student Director Matt Hiser; IEA Vice. Pres. Kathi Griffin, and IEA Sec-Treas. Al Llorens.  IEA Pres. Cinda Klickna participated in NEA Fund for Children and Public Education meetings.

Issues shared with House of Representatives members included:

1.       ESEA Reauthorization—

a.       Will the member work to ensure that any ESEA reauthorization bill preserves the critical federal role in addressing inequities that harm students and communities with the greatest needs?

b.      Will the member support efforts to restore federal requirements that states maintain their level of spending on K-12 education (Maintenance of Effort)?

2.      Educator Tax Deduction:  Will the Member support including in any payroll tax deal an extension of the expired tax deduction for educators’ out-of-pocket classroom supply expenses?

Representative Judy Biggert (R-13) is a member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee where she has played a key role in sharing NEA’s positions on ESEA reauthorization.

Issues shared with Senators included:

1.       Educator Tax Deduction:  Will the Member support including in any payroll tax deal an extension of the expired tax deduction for educators’ out-of-pocket classroom supply expenses?

2.      Social Security Offsets:  Will the Senator cosponsor the Social Security Fairness Act (S. 2010) to repeal the Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination?  If not, why?

NEA Directors and IEA Officers met with:  Senator Dick Durbin, his staff and staff for Senator Mark Kirk.  They also met with Representatives Mike Quigley (D-5), Robert Dold (R-10), Judy Biggert (R-13), Adam Kinzinger (R-11), Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-2), Randy Hultgren (R-14), Peter Roskum (R-6), John Shimkus (R-19), Aaron Schock (R-18), Bobby Schilling (R-17), and Tim Johnson (R-15).  In some cases your directors met with Congressional staff members.

Current cosponsors of the Social Security Fairness Act (H.R. 1332) are:  Biggert, Costello, Dold, Jackson, Johnson, Lipinski, Manzullo, Schakowsky, Schock, and Shimkus.  At this point, Senator Durbin is not a co-sponsor of the Senate bill (S. 2010).  Sen. Durbin voiced concerns about the sustainability of Social Security in any effort to modify these penalties.  Directors again explained to Sen. Durbin the spousal benefit penalty and other concerns about GPO-WEP.

The NEA Directors are also coordinating “At-Home Lobbying” with Members of Congress to reinforce the messages we deliver in Washington.  NEA Directors are working with teams of regional and local, active and retired, IEA leaders in each congressional district.

Congressional Member Assignments:

  • Terrie Tudor—Roskam, Hultgren
  • Jim Grimes—Costello, Schilling, Shimkus
  • Eric Brown—Quigley, Schakowsky, Dold
  • Alex Wallace—Rush, Jackson, Gutierrez
  • Joyce Bailey—Lipinski, Davis, Biggert
  • Tom Tully—Walsh, Manzullo
  • Vickie Mahrt—Kinzinger, Johnson, Schock

Federal Legislation Issues:

In the Senate, led by Democrats, the ESEA reauthorization bill is one large piece of legislation and is currently not moving.  NEA has expressed concerns to Senator Harkin, chair of the Senate Committee about some aspects of that bill.

In the House, led by Republicans, ESEA is moving in pieces: The Program Elimination bill ends 42 programs and cuts $413 million in education funding—NEA opposed; Charter Schools passed the full house—NEA neutral; Funding Flexibility, allows districts to transfer Title 1 and ELL funds, etc.—NEA opposed.  Two additional bills were released by Rep. Kline (R-MN):  Student Success Act and Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act.  NEA favors some parts of these bills including changes to AYP, appropriate testing of IEP students, and stronger ELL standards.  NEA has shared concerns about:  failure to address the achievement gap, elimination of state’s maintenance of effort—continuing to spend as much on education as in past years, mandating teacher evaluations based on student achievement, failure to protect privacy, allowing vouchers for private schools, and eliminating language that protects collective bargaining.

Members are encouraged to visit: EducationVotes.nea.org for the latest updates.  Then follow up with your local Member of Congress!

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