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Time is running out for reforms to teacher evaluations, which had appeared to be one of the most widely supported pieces of education legislation before the Michigan Legislature in the “lame duck” session.
01192011PavlovMug.jpgState Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair ShoresFile photo
House Bills 5223 and 5224 would mean changes for the teacher and administrator evaluation process, including more required professional development for teaches, evaluation in the classroom from principals and reducing the clout of standardized testing in teacher evaluations.
Both bills passed the Michigan House of Representatives with flying colors — 96 to 13 — and are supported by interested parties on both sides of the aisle. The bipartisan legislation — Rep. Adam Zemke, D-Ann Arbor, and Rep. Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, are the sponsors of the bills — was anticipated to move quickly in the lame duck session.
However, the bills have stalled in the Senate Education Committee. State Sen. Phil Pavlov, chair of the committee, said he’s working toward a floor vote by the time the legislative session ends Thursday night.
For the full article, see Kyle Feldscher, "Teacher evaluation reforms on last legs as Michigan 'lame duck' winds down", MLive, December 17, 2014.
This is a Christmas story you haven’t heard — the one where Satanists save Christmas.
It’s the story of how a proposed Christian Nativity scene at the Capitol appeared dead until a Satanist “Snaketivity” scene was proposed, and now the Capitol could host multiple scenes depicting the birth of Jesus.
It’s the story of how a Satanist group from Detroit drew a state senator from Grand Ledge, a world-renowned Christmas store from Frankenmuth, a church from East Lansing, and believers from around the state to rally behind their reason for the season.
“The Satanists have helped invigorate the Christmas spirit in a lot of people,” John Truscott, a member of the Michigan State Capitol Commission, which OKs displays at the statehouse, said with tongue in cheek.
It isn’t clear how the Satanists feel about this response. Jex Blackmore, an official with the Detroit chapter of the Satanic Temple, couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.
For the full article, see Justin A. Hinkley, "How Satanists saved the Christmas spirit in Lansing", Detroit Free Press, December 17, 2014.
Legislation to prohibit local governments from making tax breaks or subsidies conditional on the wage, benefit and hiring policies of businesses died in the House last Friday morning at one minute after midnight.
Under House Bill 5977, local governments would no longer have been allowed to make tax breaks and subsidies, for which a business would otherwise be eligible, contingent on their engaging particular employees, contractors or local businesses; paying a specified level of wages or benefits; or making a contractor pay "prevailing wages," which are based on local-union pay scales that tend to be above the market rate.
For the full article, see Jack Spenceer, "Bill to Curb Local Government Meddling Dies in House", Michigan Capitol Confidential (CAPCon), Mackinac Center for Public Policy, December 17, 2014.
Michigan's more than 360 inmates serving life sentences as young teens for killings or related acts have new hope for release.
The U.S. Supreme Court, which earlier ruled mandatory life sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional, announced it will consider whether its order should be retroactive.
An ambiguity in the court's 2012 decision has led to nationwide confusion. Some states, including Michigan, have decided the ruling is not retroactive to sentenced juveniles who have exhausted appeals.
Other states have ruled the decision requires re-examining long-ago sentenced inmates who were younger than 18.
For the full article, see John Barnes, "U.S. Supreme Court to settle whether 'juvenile lifers' sentenced years ago need to be resentenced", MLive, December 17, 2014.
In a week when road funding was expected to dominate the agenda, state lawmakers approved legislation that would loosen licensing restrictions on air guns and limit local governments' ability to set their own regulations, except when BB, pellet and paintball guns are being used by those less than 16 years old.
The bills are backed by the National Rifle Association, which says Michigan is one of four states to classify most pellet and air guns as firearms — an "unduly burdensome restraint," according to the group. The main measure won final approval from the Republican-controlled Senate and was sent to GOP Gov. Rick Snyder for his expected signature.
The change would extend a state law that prohibits municipalities from taxing or regulating the ownership, sale or possession of pistols and other firearms to also include "pneumatic" guns that fire pellets by spring, gas or air.
For the full article, see David Eggert, "State lawmakers approve looser air gun rules", Livingston Daily Press & Argus, December 17, 2014.
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