Special Session – Week of October 17
The General Assembly will be back in session the week of October 17 for a Special Session to pass a congressional redistricting map and possibly consider other issues.
The governor and legislative leaders have not finalized how big or small the special session agenda will be, but speculation continues to swirl about a session that could involve transportation, taxes, pension shift, and other critical budget and policy issues of interest to MSEA. Stay tuned!
Pension Sustainability Commission Issues Final Report
The Public Employees’ and Retirees’ Benefit Sustainability Commission issued its final report on July 15. While much of the final report reviewed the actions of the General Assembly in the 2011 regular session, it has reaffirmed aspects of the interim report issued at the end of last year.
Some key final recommendations include: shift half of all retirement costs to local boards of education; phase out of the corridor funding method; study a hybrid, cash balance benefit option for new hires; and request an attorney general’s opinion on the possibility of reducing COLAs on years of service already earned.
With the exception of the recommendation to phase out of the corridor funding method, MSEA is opposed to this final report for many of their suggestions and for failing to make some other recommendations that would truly improve the funded status and long term sustainability of the pension fund.
We are presently developing a “minority report” in response to this commission report that will highlight our opposition and further recommendations to protect employee benefits, improve sustainability, and guard against the unintended consequences that would result if some of the commission recommendations are implemented.
Theresa Lochte wins re-election to the Maryland Retirement and Pension Board
Theresa Lochte was a run-away winner of her re-election campaign to serve as a trustee to the Maryland Retirement and Pension Board. Your efforts made a difference as Theresa earned 71% of the vote.
News and Notes
Defending the Dream
MSEA is working in coalition with other community and progressive partners to develop a campaign plan in preparation for what appears to be a 2012 ballot issue on the Maryland Dream Act—legislation that incentivizes students to stay in high school through graduation and improves access to higher education by charging qualifying students in-state tuition rates instead of out-of-state rates.
Opponents of the Dream Act have submitted enough signatures to postpone implementation of the law for this year and to put the issue to the voters in November 2012. While there are still legal challenges ahead, and wrangling on ballot language, efforts to organize those interested in this education fairness and social justice issue continue.
MSEA is helping by directing interested volunteers to support a signature verification project this summer. Learn more and signup for a volunteer shift here.
Public School Labor Relations Board Meeting
The Public School Labor Relations Board met on Friday, July 15. The Board presented the forms to be used for impasse. The meeting provided time for all interested parties in attendance to provide comment on the forms before board members voted unanimously to approve them.
The forms will be posted on the Board website in the coming days. The Board is still working on regulations and guidelines that will direct their deliberations. They will provide an opportunity for feedback and comment from all parties prior to final adoption.
President Obama at the University of Maryland on Friday
President Obama will participate in a town hall at Ritchie Coliseum at the University of Maryland, College Park on Friday, July 22 at 11:00am.
General public tickets will be distributed on Thursday, July 21 beginning at 9:00am in the ticket office of Adele Stamp Student Union on campus. Click here for directions.
Rally and March for Justice in Education
Saturday, July 30 is the Save Our Schools March in Washington, DC. You can support this effort by marching, signing online petitions, or organizing something back in your school and community.
Check out the Save Our Schools website for more information and how you can participate.
Congressional and State Legislative Redistricting
Governor O’Malley appointed five members to the Redistricting Advisory Committee that will hold public hearings, receive public comment, and draft a recommended plan for the state’s legislative and congressional redistricting.
The committee members include Secretary of Appointments Jeanne Hitchcock, Senate President Mike Miller, House Speaker Michael Busch, former Delegate James King, and President and CEO of Montgomery Mechanical Services, Inc., Richard Stewart.
The committee has already identified 12 hearing locations to receive public comment. The hearing schedule can be found here. Check out the redistricting website for more information on the redistricting process and timeline.
Baltimore City elections for mayor, city council president, comptroller and city council take place this year. The list of candidates was finalized earlier this month.
Nearly every office will be contested in either the September 13th primary or November 8th general elections. MSEA does not have a local association in the city and therefore does not recommend candidates for city office.
Efforts to grow and expand our legislative and political outreach continue, and are even more necessary with the forecast of a busy special session. MSEA launched www.marylandeducators.org/organize to help identify GR capacity needs and organize volunteers in the areas where they are most interested.
Our goals are to grow or create local GR committees, state legislative action teams, congressional action teams, PAC leaders, and other members interested in getting more legislative and political training.