Ripped from the Headlines!


Breaking news! Fear Factor! News you can use!

These are all tag lines from television ads. They get our attention, inviting us to watch the different TV shows, and I hope that they can also spark your interest in what is happening with legislation and governmental affairs up in Sacramento. Both the Legislature and the Governor have been in the news-it has been a busy time for all.

This is the beginning of a new two-year legislative session (they actually started meeting in December 2004, but we call it the 2005-06 session). Legislators have been introducing bills to be considered for passage-the deadline for submission (February 22) has just ended. Some are new topics, some are repeats or revisions of bills from the previous session that did not become law (either because they did not get approved by the Legislature or they were vetoed by the Governor). It is interesting to note that many of these bills are currently in"spot bill" form and may be substantially changed in content with more definitive language prior to the first hearing of the bill in legislative committees. Some of the bills that the Senate's Legislative and Governmental Issues will be following and analyzing this year include:

AB 23 (missions and priorities of the community colleges)
AB 196 (accountability in higher education)
AB 473 (community college student fees)
AB 593 (California Hope Endowment and Public Trust)
AB 1425 (Removal of vocational faculty from 75:25 calculations)
SB 5 (Student Bill of Rights)
SB 55 (no confidence votes)
SB 349 (nonresident admissions criteria)
SB 445 (commission on statewide postsecondary education policy and planning)

The Governor has also been active in the New Year. Two of his actions in early January, were of special interest and concern to the community colleges-his State of the State address and also the presentation of his proposed budget for the 2005-06 fiscal year. Issues that he wants to take to the people include:

Taking career technical education faculty out of the 75:25 requirement
Changing the public retirement systems (including STRS) for new employees to a "defined contribution" approach
Paying teachers based on merit instead of tenure
Subjecting K-14 funding in Proposition 98 to automatic cuts (if state expenditures are more than state revenue)

We will be discussing these legislative and governmental issues in two breakout sessions at the upcoming plenary session. One will be focusing on current legislation and budget issues that are of interest to community college faculty, with a demonstration of communication tools to inform faculty of these issues. The other breakout will involve a discussion of Senate Bill 5, called the "Student Bill of Rights" by the author of the bill, highlighting the issues of academic freedom and faculty and students and the processes that can be used by students to resolve conflicts involving academic freedom.

We look forward to seeing you at Session.