The House continued what might be viewed as a game of committee ping-pong today with HB130, the bill dealing with collective bargaining between school boards and teacher unions.
The House Finance Committee last week tried to amend the bill to reflect, basically, the latest Senate version. But the panel wound up bouncing the bill back to the Education Committee, which had approved another version earlier.
Today, the Education Committee, on an 11-6 vote, bounced the bill back to the Finance Committee again — after refusing to adopt the amendment that had bounced it back last week.
Bottom line: the Senate and House versions of the bill are significantly different. And the bouncing may not be over yet.
As things stand now, the House has reverted to its March 22 stance. That version calls for abolishing collective bargaining on big ticket items, such as salaries, but allowing it to continue on some subjects.
The Senate, meanwhile, is on its second version. The first was a straightforward move to simply prohibit collective bargaining. The latest version still prohibits it, but has been dressed up a bit by declaring that all school boards must have a “policy manual” – and that any and all teachers can offer suggestions on what should be in the policy manual.
But it does still flatly abolish collective bargaining and apparently that was too far for House Republican leaders, including Education Committee Chairman Richard Montgomery of Sevierville
“We liked what we did (on March 22) and we wanted to move what we like forward without compromising with the Senate,” Montgomery said.
The maneuvering brought vocal complaints from Democrats, who, for the most part, do not like any of the versions.
“This is really nothing short of an assault on our teachers,” said House Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh. “It has nothing to do with education reform It has to do with political retaliation. That’s exactly what this is.”
Naifeh predicted the Republican majority would eventually approve the harsher Senate version and said that, in the long run, would actually be better. People and teachers will then be so upset that they will push next year and in the future for a return to full collective bargaining rights, Naifeh said