WEA in Action

2012 Legislative Wrap-up

The 61st Wyoming Legislature is now history. During the 19 days of work throughout this budget session, legislators from across the state put together a budget for the next two years, a redistricting plan for legislative districts, and a plan for school accountability. Although the session was short, there were many issues that were important to the members of the Wyoming Education Association. In addition to accountability, the legislature considered bills that looked at collective bargaining, the Wyoming Retirement System, and teacher certification.

 

“Overall, the mood at the session was good,” said WEA Government Relations Director Ken Decaria. “Our interactions with legislators were open and positive. Even when we had different positions, the interactions were professional.”

 

Decaria was the point person on the WEA Legislative Action Team, along with President Kathryn Valido, Executive Director Ron Sniffin, Professional Issues Director Kathy Scheurman, and Acting Communications Director Erin Cochran. Through their efforts, this team lobbied on important issues of interest to members and monitored the progress of all pertinent legislation.

 

The Legislative Action Team faced many challenges during this session, but overall it was one of success.  One important success was stopping a proposed change to the Wyoming Retirement System from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan. The current defined benefit plan promises a specified monthly benefit upon retirement. In a defined contribution plan, the employee and/or employer contribute to the employee’s individual account and these contributions are invested on the employee’s behalf. Upon retirement, the employee receives the balance in his/her account, plus or minus any investment gains or losses. This piece of legislation, House Bill 91, Wyoming Retirement Act, failed on introduction to the House.

 

“It’s important that Wyoming stay with the defined benefit plan because it’s better for employees in the long-term,” explained Decaria. “The Wyoming Retirement Board has also taken a position in support of defined benefit plans.”

 

Thinking not only in terms of current employees, but also of future members of the system and the Wyoming workforce, Decaria went on to say, “Defined benefit plans aid in the recruitment and retention of quality employees.”

 

The Legislative Action Team worked on retirement issues with a coalition of partners who also have members in the retirement system, beginning during the interim before the 2012 session. Working together, the Team and the rest of the coalition talked to legislators about the importance of keeping the defined benefit plan, as well as addressing the issues around cost of living adjustments (COLAs). Through their work, the coalition was successful in bringing about significant change to Senate File 59. According to the Legislative Service Office, SF-59 received the most citizen input, with over 700 calls and innumerable emails directly to legislators.

 

There were several critical successes obtained by the time SF-59 became an enrolled act. Originally, the bill called for a funded ratio of 120% before COLAs and changes to benefit multipliers could be considered. Successful lobbying decreased that ratio to 105% through an amendment in the House Appropriations Committee, and it was further reduced by the Joint Conference Committee to 100% plus the percentage deemed necessary by the board to account for market fluctuations. Original drafting of SF-59 also had taken the expertise of the WRS board and staff out of the equation, which WEA opposed. But the final enrolled act makes sure the decision to recommend a COLA remains with the Wyoming Retirement System Board of Directors. Finally, the enrolled act calls upon the Joint Appropriations Interim Committee to study other cost-efficient options that could allow for COLAs in the future.

 

“I’m really proud of the work done by the entire coalition,” Decaria said. “The final version of Senate File 59 was a big improvement from where the bill started months ago.”

 

Another closely monitored bill was Senate File 57, Education Accountability.  WEA’s efforts in this realm started with the passage of legislation in the 2011 session, and included monitoring the work of the Select Committee on Statewide Education Accountability, the SF-70 Advisory Committee comprised of education stakeholders, and the Joint Education Committee. WEA worked with a coalition of other education organizations to help ensure the accountability plan adopted by the legislature was a system that was effective, fair, and equitable. WEA will continue its focus on this issue as the Select Committee moves forward to prepare draft legislation for the 2013 session regarding Phase II of education accountability. WEA will continue to work with our coalition partners and legislators to help shape future legislation. For more specifics on how this bill will affect school districts, students, and educators, please read the article on SF-57 on pages 18-19.

 

A bill that the Team worked to defeat was House Bill 58, Public sector bargaining.  This bill would have nullified any current employment agreements between employees and employers, as well as prohibit any future bargaining or conferring.  In Wyoming, such agreements are made locally and by consent of both parties.

 

“I appreciate that the legislature realized the importance of allowing for locally negotiated agreements about working conditions,” Decaria said. “It’s important that we continue to allow local control to determine what will work best for their constituencies.”

 

The Team monitored House Bill 108, Professional teaching standards board-teacher certification. WEA had opposed this legislation as it was first drafted, feeling that protections for individuals certified by the board were lacking. The Team was able to work with the bill sponsor to make changes that addressed our concerns.

 

“I would like to thank Representative McKim for his willingness to listen to our concerns and work on changes,” Decaria added.

 

One issue that had been highly anticipated was the school funding model. The Joint Education Committee (JEC) introduced a bill to change how districts’ regional cost adjustments are calculated. As the bill was originally written by the JEC, 31 districts would have seen a funding decrease by using the hedonic wage index only. Changes to the bill were made prior to the session, and the proposed legislation that was introduced decreased the number of affected districts from 31 to 16.  However, Senate File 90, School finance, passed without any change to how the regional cost adjustments are figured, leaving the current three choices intact.

 

“It’s disappointing that there wasn’t any money put in for an external cost adjustment, but we hope that will be something the legislature will address in the next session,” Decaria said.

 

Even though the session has come to an end, the work is far from over. A great deal of important work will occur during the interim, and the WEA Legislative Action Team will be following it. The Select Committee on Education Accountability, along with the SF-70 Advisory Committee, will be working on Phase II of education accountability. Additionally, the Joint Appropriations Interim Committee will be studying the Wyoming Retirement System, with a focus on whether, how, and when to fund COLAs.

 

It’s critical to remember that this is an election year. As the session comes to an end and new laws begin to take effect, it can’t be denied the significance that government plays in the lives of everyday citizens. It is important that WEA members work to find friends of education to act on our behalf. From now through November, WEA will be busy helping endorsed candidates. [For more information on how YOU can be involved, please see the BE A PART OF IT box to the right]

 

Offering many thanks to those who helped lobby on behalf of WEA and the issues it followed, Decaria concluded, “Our association would not have been able to achieve what we did without your help. Together we made a positive difference.”

 

If you have questions regarding any legislation or would like further information, please contact WEA Government Relations Director Ken Decaria at kdecaria@nea.org


SF57 – Education Accountability: How will it affect you and your students?

Wyoming will “become a national education leader among states [and] ensure all students leave Wyoming schools career or college ready.” [Excerpts of goals for the Education Accountability Act, from Senate Enrolled Act 65, passed by the 2012 WY Legislature]

For the past year, the Select Committee on Statewide Education Accountability, with input from the Advisory Committee and contracted consultants, has spent innumerable hours studying how best to implement last year’s legislation on education accountability.  As a result, quite a few changes to the original legislation were recommended and acted on at this year’s legislative session through Senate File 57, now Senate Enrolled Act 65.

What do those changes mean for you, the educator in the classroom?

One key feature is that Phase 1 (2012-13) of the accountability system will use student data to focus on school-level performance, not on that of individual teachers and leaders. However, that will change in Phase 2, detailed later in this article.

School-level accountability

Beginning in 2012-13, school-level performance under Phase 1 will be based on three (3) indicators:  growth (student longitudinal academic growth in reading and math on PAWS beginning in grade 4, plus 11thgrade ACT), achievement (PAWS as detailed below, plus 11th grade ACT), and readiness (ACT Suite as outlined below, plus graduation or high school completion rates, plus 9th grade credit accumulation).

Beginning in SY 2012-13, each school will receive one of four overall school performance ratings:  Exceeding, Meeting, Partially Meeting, or Not Meeting expectations. An informal review process is established in the bill for any school that disagrees with its rating.  District accreditation will be tied to the performance determination. The legislation also delineates a progressive, multi-tiered system of support, interventions and consequences for the schools, all dependent on the performance rating assigned.

The State Board of Education (SBE) has been delegated huge amounts of responsibility under the new accountability bill, one of which will be to determine target levels for the overall school performance ratings and for separate content-level performance in English, reading, math and science at three levels: Exceeding, Meeting or Below targets.

To accomplish their monumental tasks, the SBE is required to seek input from the Wyoming Education Accountability Professional Judgment Panel, a group to be established that will include broad-based representation from both public education and the community-at-large.

Individual educator accountability

The new legislation specifies that not later than 2013-14 (Phase 2 of the accountability system), personnel performance evaluations must link student performance and progress to teachers of record and to school and district leaders, including superintendents, principals and other district or school leaders.  At that point, each individual educator will be rated as Highly Effective, Effective, or Ineffective (definitions/criteria to be developed in the coming year). Inadequate performance will be grounds for suspension, dismissal, or termination of teachers, including those who have continuing contract status. It is important to note that for those performing unsatisfactorily, the district and the state must include reasonable opportunity for mentoring and other professional development in order to assist the teacher in trying to improve his/her performance. Stay tuned to the WEA NEWS in the coming year for information about the specifics regarding Phase 2.

NCLB waiver request

Finally, the accountability bill directs the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to immediately apply to U.S. Department of Education for a waiver to allow the use of the ACT or similar college entrance exam in grade 11 to fulfill NCLB assessment requirements. The superintendent is required to report monthly to the Select Committee on Accountability as to the status of the request. The bill as it passed the Legislature did not specify a contingency plan in the event such a waiver is denied.

Should you have any questions about the Accountability Act or the 2012 legislative changes, please contact WEA Professional Issues Director, Kathy Scheurman, kscheurman@nea.org.


Summary of 2012 WEA-Monitored Bills

HB0033-Highway fund-assignment of fine and penalty revenues.(WEA monitored.) (Bill failed.) Would have diverted approx. $16M annual revenues received from fines, penalties, and forfeitures, as well as interest earned on such monies, to the state highway fund instead of the school foundation program.

HB0034-Subdivisions-consideration of schools – Engrossed.(WEA monitored.) (Bill failed.) Would have allowed for a review and recommendation from the school board of any school district in which a potential subdivision will be located regarding the potential impacts of the subdivision on the schools within the district.

HB0039-High school graduation requirements. (WEA monitored.) (Bill failed.) Would have required, as of 2013-14, a 4thyr. each of math & science for HS graduation, & would have modified math & science requirements for the Success Curric. for the opportunity & provisional opportunity scholarships.

HB0047- School finance. (WEA monitored.) (Bill failed.) Would have codified the 16:1 student: teacher ratio in grades K-3. Removed the WCLI as an option in figuring the Reg’l Cost Adjustment for dist.s. Except for charter schools, required that a change in grade configuration of a dist., school or school facility be approved by BOTH the State Supt. & the School Facilities Dir. (each has veto power), based on criteria specified in the bill. Prohibited changes in grade configuration that include more than 1 school in 1 school facility for funding purposes. Made several adjustments to the block grant funding model. [NOTE: The 16:1 ratio was later incorporated into SF-57.]

HB0058-Public sector bargaining. (WEA opposed.) (Bill failed.)Would have prohibited collective bargaining by public sector employees concerning grievances, labor disputes, rates of pay, hours of employment, conditions of work, or any other matter relating to employment. Prohibited strikes by public sector employees. Repealed provisions for collective bargaining by firefighters.

HB0072, now HEA0015-Juvenile detention facility placements.(WEA supported.) Tuition paid to a school district for education programs provided to nonresident juvenile detention facility placements is exempted from the local resource offset under the school foundation program. Effective 7/1/12.

HB0073-Interfund borrowing for school foundation account.(WEA supported.) (Bill failed.) Would have eliminated interest applied to interfund borrowing for the school foundation program account.

HB0074-Kindergarten readiness programs. (WEA supported.)(Bill failed.) Would have required the Dept. of Workforce Services to conduct a series of statewide discussions of relevant stakeholders to develop state policy on comprehensive early childhood development, kindergarten readiness & early literacy development.

HB0077, now HEA0038-Charter schools-average daily membership. (WEA monitored.) For a charter school in its 4th or subsequent year of charter school operation that expands its enrollment to include 1 or more consecutive grade levels above its current school configuration of grades, the ADM for the charter school will be adjusted by the enrollment count taken on Oct. 1 of the 1st year of operation under the expanded grade level(s). Effective 7/1/12.

HB0080-Remediation for Hathaway recipients. (WEA monitored.) (Bill failed.) Would have required school dist.s to reimburse UW and the community colleges for any remediation required for Hathaway scholarship recipients.

HB0091-Wyoming Retirement Act. (WEA opposed.) (Bill failed.) Would have created a defined contribution retirement plan for all new hires on or after Sept. 1, 2013. Existing employees would have been grandfathered in to the current defined benefit system, but would have had the irrevocable option to switch to the defined contribution plan.

HB0094-Unemployment insurance-exclusions. (WEA supported.) (Bill failed.) Would have repealed the exclusion for eligibility for unemployment benefits of certain employees of educational institutions.

HB0095-Student to teacher ratio waiver. (WEA monitored.) (Bill failed.) Would have provided for a mandatory waiver of the K-3 student: teacher ratio for the highest-performing schools as defined by the Wyoming Education Accountability Act. [NOTE: This provision was later incorporated into SF-57.]

HB0103-School finance-amendments-2. (WEA monitored.) (Bill failed.) Would have codified the 16:1 student: teacher class size ratio requirement for K-3. Continued to allow the RCA to be determined by the greater of the HWI or the WCLI, but clarified which gov’t division determines the WCLI & updated the HWI. Except for charter schools, required that any proposed change in grade configuration of a dist., school or school facility be approved by BOTH the State Supt. & the School Facilities Dir. (each has veto power), based on criteria specified in the bill.  Would have prohibited changes in grade configuration that include more than 1 school in 1 school facility for funding purposes.  Made adjustments to several components of the funding model.  Provided funding to A&I to conduct an analysis & review of the WCLI.

HB0108, now HEA0042-Professional teacher standards board-teacher certification-Engrossed. (WEA monitored) Requires fingerprinting & criminal history record check for PTSB for initial teacher certification issuance &, if requested by a school district (and at the expense of the district), for obtaining background information on employees who may have access to minors in the course of employment. PTSB may revoke, suspend, deny or refuse to renew certification for incompetency, conviction of a felony committed after July 1, 1996, immorality and other reprehensible conduct or gross neglect of duty “or knowing misrepresentation of information on an application or resume.” Prohibits PTSB from issuing certification until: a) the criminal history background check has been received by PTSB, b) the applicant provides a release of information, and c) the applicant consents to the release of any criminal history information to PTSB &, if applicable, to the employing school district. If PTSB receives a background report that contains criminal history record information, PTSB must provide a copy of the report to the employing local school board if the information involves a certified individual employed by that local board. PTSB must provide a copy of the criminal background check report to a district, upon request, if the report indicates the applicant has a conviction equal to a felony in WY or any conviction for an act which would constitute a violation under W.S. Title 6, Chapter 2 (“Offenses Against the Person”, such as murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, assault & battery, robbery, etc.) or Chapter 4 (“Offenses Against Morals, Decency & Family”, such as public indecency, prostitution, obscenity, offenses against the family, etc.). Effective immediately upon becoming law.

HB0118-Deferred compensation program-state contribution.(WEA supported.) (Bill failed.) Would have created an equal state match to the WY deferred comp. program for participating employees’/officials’ (includes UW & CC employees) contributions, within specified parameters & subject to legislative appropriation.

HJ0002-Constitutional assignment of general fines and penalties. (WEA monitored.) (Bill failed.) Joint Resolution that had proposed to amend the WY Constitution to require that fines and penalties collected under the general laws of the state be diverted from the school foundation program to the state highways. All school districts would have been held harmless for any lost funds related to this diversion, as any required school funding will be made up from the School Foundation Acct.

HJ0005-Education funding amendments. (WEA opposed.) (Bill failed.) Joint Resolution that had proposed to amend the WY Constitution to allow the legislature to appropriate funds to private or religious schools.

HJ0011-State superintendent of public instruction. (Bill failed.)Would have amended the WY Constitution to change the supt. of public instruction’s position from an elected to an appointed cabinet position, beginning with the 2014 general election and effective 1/5/15.

SF0035, now SEA0012 CHAPTER 0022-Higher education reserve accounts. (WEA supported.) Provides for retention of interest and other earnings in the Hathaway Student Scholarship and Excellence in Higher Education Endowment reserve accounts. Effective immediately upon becoming law.

SF0044-Parental responsibilities. (WEA monitored.) (Bill failed.)Would have increased penalties to parents/guardians/custodians for students’ non-attendance at school to fines of not less than $100 nor more than $1000, imprisonment for not more than 10 days, or both.

SF0050-Youth sports concussion management. (WEA monitored.) (Bill failed.) Would have required training of coaches & trainers (paid or volunteer) of non-scholastic youth sports activities regarding head injuries & concussion; prohibited youth from participating in an athletic event on the same day the youth is diagnosed with or exhibits symptoms of head injury or concussion unless they meet certain conditions; provided for education of youth sports participants, parents & guardians regarding head injury & concussion resulting from athletic activities.

SF0052, now SEA0039-Dyslexia screening and response. (WEA supported.) Requires reading screening & early, multi-tiered intervention, including pre-screening for dyslexia & other reading difficulties as early as possible in K-3. WDE must identify assessment instruments used to identify dyslexia & other reading difficulties. The intervention program must be multi-tiered & include various interventions to facilitate remediation of any reading difficulty as early as possible. Districts must report annually to WDE the number of students, by grade, identified by the screening instruments. The state superintendent, in consultation with WY school districts, professionals in the area of dyslexia and other reading difficulties, and other appropriate stakeholders, must promulgate rules and regulations as necessary to implement this act. Requires reporting by WDE to JEIC. Effective 7/1/12.

SF0055, now SEA0038-Purchase of federal lands. (WEA monitored.) When determined to be consistent with the duties and obligations owed to beneficiaries of state trust land sales proceeds, authorizes the purchase of federal lands with permanent land fund monies. Effective 7/1/12.

SF0057, now SEA0065-Education accountability-Engrossed.(WEA monitored.) Lengthy bill that amends the Education Accountability Act of 2011.  Some key features:

Removes requirement for linking data from benchmark adaptive assessment to teachers, schools & districts.

Delineates goals of the Education Accountability Act.

Phase 1 of accountability system focuses on school-level performance based on:  growth (student longitudinal academic growth in reading & math on PAWS beginning in grade 4, plus 11th grade ACT),achievement (PAWS as detailed below, plus 11th grade ACT), &readiness (grades 9 & 10 standardized college readiness test covering English, reading, math & science, plus grades 11 & 12 college entrance or placement exams, plus graduation or high school completion rates, plus 9th grade credit accumulation).

Beginning in SY 2012-13, schools will receive performance ratings. An informal review process for any school that disagrees with its rating is established.

State Board of Education (SBE) will determine target levels for the overall school performance ratings & for content-level performance, with input from a panel with broad-based representation from both public education & the community at-large, to be known as the Wyoming Education Accountability Professional Judgment Panel.

4 overall school performance ratings: Exceeding, Meeting, Partially Meeting, or Not Meeting expectations.

Separate content-level performance levels in English, reading, math & science at 3 levels: Exceeding, Meeting or Below targets.

Establishes a progressive, multi-tiered system of support, interventions & consequences to assist schools.

Performance will also be tied to district accreditation.

Requires student confidentiality be maintained when disaggregating & reporting student performance data.

District Assessment Systems: Starting in 2014-15, SBE must annually approve each district’s assessment system that must be designed & used to determine the various levels of student performance and attainment of high school graduation.

PAWS:

Include multiple measures & item types to ensure alignment to state standards, including multiple choice items.

For the writing & language assessment only, include multiple measures & item types to ensure alignment, which may include grade-appropriate multiple choice, open response, constructed & extended response items as appropriate;

Effective 2012-13, to be administered:

Reading & Math in grades
3 through 8;

Science in grades 4 & 8;

Writing & Language:

For 2012-13, the writing assessment piloted in 2011-12 would be fully implemented.

Starting in 2013-14, a separately administered, valid, reliable & robust assessment in grades 3, 5, & 7;

Shall allow for monitoring & evaluation of trends in writing & language performance on an individual student & school basis, & shall require objective measurement of written responses to informational & literary text & shall include writing tasks of varying length;

Cannot exceed 3 hours of assessment time for any grade.

MAP: Effective 2013-14, requires district administration of common interim benchmark assessments (e.g., MAP) once in grade 1, plus at least twice each school year in grades 2-8. Also requires continued longitudinal study of summer school program effectiveness using MAP in summer school & extended day intervention & remediation programs.

ACT Suite: Effective 2012-13, requires use of computer-adaptive college-readiness/entrance/ placement assessments (e.g., ACT Suite) for all students in grades 9-12:

11th grade entrance assessment (ACT) must include English, reading, writing, math & science.

12th grade placement assessment (COMPASS) must be given in the spring.

Waivers may be granted for students with disabilities in accordance with NCLB & IDEA. Alternative assessments & accommodations may be offered by the state superintendent in accordance with Rules & Regulations.

Teacher & Leader Accountability: Not later than 2013-14, personnel evaluations must link student performance & progress to teachers of record & school & district leaders, including superintendents, principals & other district or school leaders, & rate each as Highly Effective, Effective, or Ineffective.

District & state must include reasonable opportunity for mentoring & other professional development for those performing unsatisfactorily.

Beginning in 2013-14, inadequate performance as determined through annual evaluation tied to student academic growth is grounds for suspension, dismissal, or termination.

Class-size waiver: WDE may grant schools designated as “exceeding expectations” per the accountability system an automatic waiver for the mandated 16:1 student: teacher ratio in K-3.

Federal Waiver Request: Directs the State Supt. to immediately apply to USDE for a waiver to allow the use of the ACT or similar college entrance exam in grade 11 to fulfill NCLB requirements.

Select Committee: Continues the Select & Advisory Committees through 12/31/13 in order to continue implementation of Phase 1 & development of Phase 2. The Select Committee shall also continue the study of an end-of-course assessment system, performance pay, student, parent & community accountability, & other topics.

Effective dates: Some portions effective immediately upon becoming law; other portions on 7/1/12.

SF0059, now SEA0066-Public employee retirement plans benefit increases-Engrossed. (WEA opposed.) Eliminates cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for specified public employee retirement plans unless/until a retirement plan has achieved an actuarial funded ratio of 100% plus the additional percentage the Retirement Board determines is reasonably necessary to withstand market fluctuations. Provides parameters for consideration of future benefit increases, but declares that no benefit changes, including COLAs & changes to multipliers, shall be recommended unless the system’s actuaries provide an opinion that the funded ratio of the plan will remain above the aforementioned funding level throughout the life of the benefit change. Requires the Retirement Board, in collaboration with employers, to provide information, including through a mandatory education program, to all existing & new employees, to include a review of retirement benefits, costs expected to be incurred in retirement,  income amounts anticipated to be necessary to maintain the member’s pre-retirement standard of living, & advising them that no future COLAs are anticipated. Survivor’s benefits will no longer be subject to any COLAs. Directs the JAIC to study the cost efficiencies of: a) implementation of an annual COLA, offered through the current defined benefit plan and paid for with employer & employee contributions, b) implementation of a supplemental defined contribution plan with employee & matching employer contributions as an alternative to addressing COLA in the plans, & c) other types of pension plans. Effective immediately upon becoming law.

SF0070-Child abuse-reporting penalties. (WEA monitored.) (Bill failed.) Would have created penalties for anyone who knowingly fails to report known or suspected child abuse or neglect or who makes a false report.

SF0078, now SEA0034-Interstate compact on students of military families-Engrossed. (WEA supported.) Creates an interstate compact for the education of students from active duty (as defined in the bill) military families, in order to remove barriers to the students’ educational success.  Facilitates school enrollment, transfer of records between schools, appropriate placement, continued enrollment, IEP & ELL services, on-time graduation, etc.  Any state that is a member of the compact must have a State Council, with specified minimum representation, that will provide coordination among government agencies, school districts, and military installations. The Council will designate a military family education liaison, and the Governor will appoint a Compact Commissioner. The member states shall jointly create an Interstate Commission, with duties and governing rules as specified in the bill. Creates a 2-year, $5,000 appropriation to WDE for the administration of the act. Effective 7/1/12.

SF0090, now SEA0051-School finance-amendments-Engrossed.(WEA monitored.) Places into statute the 16:1 student: teacher class size ratio requirement for K-3. Requires that any proposed change in grade configuration of a district, school or school facility, except charter schools, be approved by BOTH the State Superintendent and the School Facilities Director (each has veto power), based on criteria specified in the bill, for purposes of determining block grant funding & necessary school facilities. As of 7/1/12, prohibits changes in grade configuration that include more than 1 school in 1 school facility for purposes of determining funding. In the block grant funding model: provides definitions for several components; decreases the funding multiplier for computers & equipment; makes adjustments to several components of the funding model.  Some portions of bill effective immediately upon becoming law; other portions effective 7/1/12.

SF0097, now SEA0041-Wyoming Retirement Act. (WEA monitored.) Modifies benefits and requirements for benefits for general members hired after 8/31/12.  For a general member (as defined in the bill) initially employed after 8/31/12: a) defines the average annual salary of the member as the highest-paid 5 continuous years of service (current law is 3 continuous years); b) allows retirement benefits if the member has at least 4 years of service credit and is at least 65 years old (current law says 60 years old) [Note: Rule of 85 would remain unchanged.]; c) eligibility terms for early retirement benefits are changed; and d) retirement benefit calculations will be figured at a slightly lower rate than the current calculations used.  Continues to allow purchase of service years, but that time cannot be used to determine whether a member is a general member initially employed after 8/31/12.  Effective 7/1/12.

SF0098-Higher education-civic service programs. (WEA supported.) (Bill failed.) Would have required UW & all WY community colleges to establish WY civic service day(s) to encourage students to perform charitable or public service on their campuses or elsewhere in WY. In addition, would have required recipients of the Hathaway scholarships to complete at least 12 hours of unpaid civic service as a condition of scholarship renewal.

SF0105, now SEA0009 CHAPTER 016-School capital construction-Engrossed. (WEA monitored.) Appropriates up to more than $384M to fund school capital construction projects as specified in the bill (see http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2012/Enroll/SF0105.pdf for exact list of projects and funding amounts). Various portions of the act have different effective dates: 3/6/12, 7/1/12, & 7/13/12.

SF0106-Transfer of state lands. (WEA monitored.) (Bill failed.)Would have authorized the board of land commissioners to convey all its right, title and interest in certain land within the boundaries of Grand Teton National Park to the US Dept. of the Interior. Proceeds from the sale would have been deposited to the common school account within the permanent land fund.