IEA Hotline – February 4, 2022

The fourth week of the 2022 Idaho legislative session saw the advancement of a number of education-related bills, including the passage of one IEA members’ top legislative priority – educator access to the state employee health insurance plan. Here’s a quick rundown: 

 Health Care Insurance for Educators to Become Law 

Legislation giving Idaho’s educators access to quality, affordable health insurance was approved by Idaho lawmakers in a final overwhelming 32-3 Senate vote on Thursday. Governor Little will sign the legislation, which was part of his historic slate of education proposals this year, into law next week during a teacher appreciation tour to schools across the state. 

The bill, House Bill 443, provides additional funding to Idaho school districts allowing them to purchase health insurance for all district employees through the State of Idaho’s employee health insurance plan. The legislation is an extraordinary step forward for educators across Idaho, but especially those in rural communities where health insurance costs often outstrip your modest educator salaries. This new law will leave you with more money in your pocket at the end of the month.  

Lawmakers essential to this legislation’s approval include Rep. Rod Furniss (R-Rigby), who was the bill’s primary architect, and co-sponsor Rep. Wendy Horman (R-Idaho Falls). House Speaker Scott Bedke (R-Oakley) is also a long-time supporter of educator insurance and helped shepherd this legislation through the House. On the Senate side, Sen. Jim Woodward (R-Sagle) was the bill’s primary advocate.   

Educators Testify in Favor of Resolution Supporting Trauma-Informed Awareness   

 A House Concurrent Resolution encouraging those who work with vulnerable children and adults to become trauma-informed and implement evidence-based interventions was approved by the House of Representatives Thursday. The non-binding declaration,HCR29, now moves to the Senate for consideration.   

Two IEA member-educators were among several who testified in favor of the resolution in the House Health and Welfare Committee Tuesday, telling lawmakers about the desperate need for stronger social and emotional education among students, educators, and parents.   

Self-Directed Learners Bill Moves to House 

A bill allowing students who demonstrate the ability to be self-directed as a learner greater flexibility in their education was unanimously advanced by the Senate on Wednesday. Drafted by Senate Education Chairman Steven Thayn (R-Emmett), Senate Bill 1238’s next stop is the House Education Committee.  

Through this bill, students who secure self-directed learner designation through certification by their educators can enjoy “flexible attendance” opportunities, attending school virtually, “extended learning opportunities, and any other agreed-upon learning inside or outside the classroom,” according to the legislation.  

After working with the bill’s sponsor to strengthen the standards educators use to certify these students “self-directed,” the IEA supports the legislation.  

Bill Related to Master Educator Premiums 

House Education Committee Chairman Lance Clow (R-Twin Falls) introduced a bill this week that helps educators who qualified for the Master Educator Premiums, but subsequently became administrators, to still receive their earned premium.  

Legislation for Accurately Placing Out-of-State Educators on Career Ladder 

Legislation that allows school districts to accurately place educators moving to Idaho from out of state on Idaho’s educator Career Ladder was introduced in House Education on Friday. Sponsored by Rep. Julie Yamamoto (R-Caldwell), the bill provides the appropriate career ladder cohort allocation to school districts that allow them to pay experienced, incoming educators a salary commensurate with their years of experience in other states.  

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