for the week -
This has been a rather busy week as the legislation moved into its most active phase as we near the end of session.
Here are some of the issues we discussed and confronted.
LD 1781 (HP 1227). "An Act To Encourage New Major Investments in Shipbuilding Facilities and the Preservation of Jobs"
Yes, this does come with a hefty price tag. I did have to consider that price tag and the other impacts of this bill. The bill seeks to provide tax adjustments to General Dynamics - the company and the owner of Bath Iron Works.
Given that Bath Iron Works employs so many local people, and given that Bath Iron Works is the largest employer in that state, I find it so important to retain employment. When an employer as large at Bath Iron Works has to compete with other national interests, it is important to keep our own needs here in the state of Maine in mind.
I voted to approve this bill - it just makes sense “on the street.”
As the Bangor Daily News reported yesterday, “The debate has centered on whether the state receives enough return for the investments, which in this case comes in the form of lost tax revenue on one hand and more than 5,000 high-paying jobs with benefits on the other.
“There is no denying that Bath Iron Works is a statewide economic driver,” said Rep. Jennifer DeChant, D-Bath, who sponsored the bill. “Please don’t tell me that it’s too big to fail. … There are other shipyards that are growing their capacity to compete.” “
LD1666 - An Act To Ensure the Successful Implementation of Proficiency- based Diplomas by Extending the Timeline for Phasing in Their Implementation
This bill has received a great deal of attention for a great number of reasons. The original bill, sponsored by Representative Tori Kornfield sought to delay the full implementation of proficiency based diplomas for one year. Her reasoning was that students who can not meet the strict declarations of proficiency in all eight content areas would be denied a diploma. That didn’t seem fair.
In the committee discussion, Representative Heidi Sampson proposed the complete removal of all proficiency based diploma criterion. Needless to say, this is a radical proposal and for me violated the good sense of due process because schools and individuals would not have sufficient time to give testimony. At the same time, for me, this amendment rendered all the work of all the teachers and administrations in the state who have given this initiative a good faith effort into a invalid condition. I could never have supported this amendment.
The development of the proficiency based diploma has an important history. The diploma requirements were originally begun by the current administration in 2012. Since the election of the current governor, we have seen at least six different commissioners of education. We have not seen effective leadership to make the proficiency diploma real for the schools in the state. Much confusion has resulted.
As the Lewiston Sun-Journal writes, “Repealing proficiency-based diplomas would be a radical change in education policy. The proficiency-based diploma legislation, passed in 2012, was touted by Gov. Paul LePage as one of his key education reform efforts, which included introducing charter schools to the state and issuing A-F report cards for schools.” (Lewiston Sun Journal)
It may very well be time to remove the mandate for the proficiency based diploma - we have lacked leadership, there are many misinterpretations, and there are no clear directions or guidance.
If we believe that local school districts are the awarding agency for diplomas, should not the decision about the requirements for that diploma belong to the local educational agency. The town/city school board awards a diploma, not the state of Maine.
Weekly Calendar of Legislative Events/Meetings
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