Idaho House passes Senate Bill 1108 48-22

By Brian Murphy

After more than three hours of bill reading and debate, the Idaho House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 1108 by a vote of 48-22. SB 1108 is the first of school superintendent Tom Luna's "Students Come First" education-reform bills and deals with contracts and labor negotiations between local school boards and teachers' unions.

All 48 yes votes came from Republicans. Nine Republicans joined all 13 Democrats in opposing the legislation.

The bill passed the Senate by a 20-15 vote earlier this session and the legislation now heads to Gov. Butch Otter's desk for his signature. Otter is a co-sponsor of the legislation.

The full House will consider SB 1110, which implements a pay-for-performance plan, Wednesday.

Read below for a full recap of the debate.

Debate blog

Idaho House Democrats will make Republicans read Senate Bills 1108 and 1110 in their entirety during Tuesday's floor debate, said House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston.

The Senate also read the entire bills, which are part of schools superintendent Tom Luna's "Students Come First" education-reform plan.

Rusche said the bills have no support in the 13-member House Democrat caucus and they will debate "vigorously" against the bills, which are expected to pass easily.

If you'd like to read along, here is SB 1108 and 1110.

SB 1108 deals with teacher contracts and negotiations between local school boards and teachers' unions. SB 1110 implements a pay-for-performance plan.

You can watch the debate here.

The reading of SB 1108 began at 9:15 a.m. It is 25 pages long. Chief Clerk of the House Bonnie Alexander is reading the bill. She is reading pretty quick, but after 13 minutes is definitely slowing down.

Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, is now reading the bill. Rep. Ken Roberts, R-Donnelly, has taken over the reading. Rep. Cliff Bayer, R-Boise, has taken over the reading. Rep. Gayle Batt, R-Wilder, took over the reading and now Alexander is back to reading.

We're more than 45 minutes into the reading.

Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, is now opening debate on the bill.

"This bill returns authority and accountability to school boards," Nonini said. "For too long school boards have been shackled to agreements made 10, 20 or even 30 years ago."

Said Nonini: "If we trust them enough to elect them, we should trust them enough to do their job."

He says the bill calla for "streamlining collective bargaining" and "phases out continuing contracts."

"This bill is a bill whose time has come," Nonini said.

Rep. Elfreda Higgins, D-Boise, asks about liability insurance. The bill states that districts have to advise teachers of their insurance options. Higgins asks how that improves student achievement.

Nonini says that "some parts and provisions of the bill that we need to get into that don't necessarily put students first."

Rep. Bill Killen, D-Boise, questions whether the bill runs afoul of the Idaho Constitution.

Democrats question Nonini on several fronts, including why the bill removes the financial emergency language that legislators and stakeholders worked to put into law two years ago.

"School districts are more strapped and I believe in the last 30-plus years the negotiations have swung quite a ways to one side and this legislation tries to bring that back to center so to speak," Nonini said.

Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, is now discussing unions. Her father was a union member, who worked for the newspaper in Spokane as a typesetter. Ringo says it is important that people get to negotiate for working conditions as well as pay.

SB 1108 would not allow negotiations for anything other than pay and benefits.

Ringo is a former schoolteacher.

"Why should you throw away everything you've agreed upon in the past rather than discuss the things you agree need solving at the time. That's the way it works," Ringo said, adds it's beneficial to everyone to have a problem-solving system that works.

Ringo says she heard Luna say that people who don't like his plan don't like it because they don't understand it. "I understand it quite well and there are parts of it, I definitely don't like," Ringo said.

Rep. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls, is now debating. Starts with anecdote about his favorite teacher. He says some teachers do not belong in the classroom. Says process for getting rid of bad teachers is "laborious."

Bateman taught for 37 years in public schools. Says inability to remove poor teachers has led to home-school movement. Bateman says the process has been difficult for him.

"I’m losing some lifelong friends. People I’ve taught with for 30 years won’t talk to me. Fears are unwarranted," Bateman said.

Rep. Brian Cronin, D-Boise, is now debating. He says he resents being told he doesn't understand the legislation and says Luna's analogy to medicine is wrong.

"One person's medicine is another person's Kool-Aid. And I refuse to drink it," Cronin said.

Cronin says no one can tell him what problem this bill is trying to address. Says legislation "is flawed 17 ways from Sunday."

"Let's stop pretending SB 1108 has anything to do with education reform or the classroom or, and this is the part that offends me the most, children. My children," Cronin said. This bill is to "ensure that teacher voices are effectively silenced."

Speaker of the House Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, just used the gavel to silence the gallery. Said he will clear it.

Cronin says the legislation "makes teachers and the (Idaho Education Association) our adversaries rather than our collaborators." He calls it a "slap in the face."

Rep. Leon Smith, R-Twin Falls, is the first Republican to speak against the bill.

Rep. Roy Lacey, D-Pocatello, quotes Ronald Reagan supporting unions and Hitler bashing unions.

"Teachers are extremely vulnerable under this bill," Lacey said. "Teachers need to be respected. ... It could be, at its worst, a reign of terror."

Lacey says that if "we continue on this course, it will be on our heads that history will place the blame."

"Do we have the courage to say no to this legislation?" Lacey said.

Rep. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, is now debating. Says "children are being held hostage to a labor management relations tiff."

"I have read the plan. Luna begins by saying the reason for the plan isn't that there is something wrong with our schools, it's because we can't afford the system of education that we have and the people of Idaho aren't going to step up to pay for the system of education we have," Burgoyne said.

Burgoyne says he doesn't think that's true, given that taxpayers approved more than $113 million in local levies for school districts. Says that Boise School District is opposed to the legislation.

"We like the contracts that we negotiate," Burgoyne said.

Burgoyne has touched on a number of topics, including the recent court decision to allow Republicans to close their primaries and the "disinvestment" in higher education by the state of Idaho.

Rep. Donna Pence, D-Gooding, is now debating. Pence is debating against the removal of the 99-percent protection, a sticking point for many critics of the bill. Current law protects school districts that suffer student population loss by funding them at 99 percent of the previous year's enrollment.

Luna has acknowledged that the removal of the 99-percent protection for districts is a tough situation, but says the state can no longer afford to double fund students.

Rep. Phylis King, D-Boise, is now debating. She says removing collective bargaining will "explode the school's culture."

King says the bill "will, I believe, bury" small districts in the state.

"Will good teachers leave Idaho teaching? Absolutely," King said, adding that she knows of several teachers who have signed out-of-state contracts.

Rep. Elaine Smith, D-Pocatello, is now debating against the bill. Says she believes SB 1108 "strips due process." Calls the bill "mean spirited."

Rep. Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise, is now debating the bill. Says she finds it "disrespectful."

She asks that lawmakers "seriously consider the legacy we will leave because of the action we take."

Nonini says the bill will save more than $9 million per year. That figure comes from %5.4 million from the removal of 99-percent floor and $4 million from the removal of the early retirement education program.

Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, calls the "Students Come First" plan "one of these flavor of the month reforms."

"What’s bothered me about this process is we have not involved the people on the ground," Jaquet said.

Rep. Bill Killen, D-Boise, is now debating. He says the bill is "totally unnecessary" and that it is "predicated on the premise that school boards are at the mercy of the teachers' unions and unable to manage their districts."

Killen says constituents are overwhelming opposed to this bill.

Killen likens bill to an "unripened fruit."

Rep. Elfreda Higgins, D-Boise, is now debating against the bill. Says she works for the people and "we ought to listen to them."

Rep. Sue Chew, D-Boise, is now debating. Now she is citing a study that asks whether unions affect student achievement and says it found that there was a robust response and it was a positive one.

Chew said it found that states that had good healthy membership of teachers in their unions and associations had very good student outcomes.

Rep. John Rusche, D-Lewiston, said teachers in his district are applying in Washington already.

Rep. Mack Shirley, R-Rexburg, is debating in favor of the bill. He is the second representative to speak in support.

"Does this bill really vilify teachers? I think not," Shirley says.

He says media campaigns by the critics of the legislation have done more to harm morale than the legislation will. Shirley is a former teacher and administrator.

Rep. Cliff Bayer, R-Boise, is debating in favor of the legislation. Bayer says he has "seen a lot of colleagues ... that have opposed anything that changes the status quo."

Rep. JoAn Wood, R-Rigby, is now debating the bill. She said a yes vote on the bill is "a vote of hope."

Rep. John Vander Woude, R-Nampa, says "the lack of tenure does not threaten good teachers."

Rep. Reed DeMourdant, R-Eagle, wanted to debate, but since he has a "pair slip" for his vote, he was not allowed to debate. Pair slip means someone who is voting yes casts a vote for a lawmaker who is voting no but can't be there to cast their vote (or vice versa).

Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, is now debating for the second time. She says there is nothing in Idaho law that gives teachers "tenure." It has been a serious point of contention in this debate — the use of the word "tenure" vs. "continuing contract."

Nonini is making his closing statements. Says he doesn't like the term bad or poor teacher, prefers ineffective. Says master contracts have gotten "phenomenal," in terms of what details have made it into master contracts.

Nonini says he remembers his good teachers, but it has become too costly to get rid of ineffective ones.

Nonini says the bill brings negotiations back to center. He asks if those that are against the bill "have any faith and trust in the school boards?" He says if they make bad decisions, they will have to stand for re-election soon.

Nonini says now is "the time we have to give these local districts control."

The bill passed the House 48-22 with nine Republicans and 13 Democrats voting against the legislation. The bill will now head to Gov. Butch Otter's office for his signature. Otter is co-sponsor of the legislation.

The House adjourned for the day without taking up SB 1110.

Here are the nine Republicans who voted no on SB 1108 were: Darrell Bolz, Caldwell; Gary Collins, Nampa; George Eskridge, Dover; Janice McGeachin, Idaho Falls; Jeff Nesset, Lewiston; Robert Schaefer, Nampa; Leon Smith, Twin Falls; Tom Trail, Moscow; Rich Wills, Glenns Ferry.

McGeachin said she voted no because she "wasn't convinced of the clear need to make the changes." She said the financial emergency legislation put in place two years ago to allow districts to deal with budget cuts have worked. "I wasn't interested in ending due process for teachers," she said.

McGeachin said the "overwhelming opposition in my community" also contributed to her "no" vote.

WHEEEE! Democratic Party ANIMALS.


You must be lucky to be in the state I was born in!

Thank you

Leon Smith. You voted right! I will remember that you stepped up to the plate for teachers. My vote remains with you. A friend in Twin

Pick the right plate...

Too bad he didn't step up to the plate for students.

Didn't Democrats blast the GOP

for this tactic? (I believe it is a time waster whether called for by GOP or DEM!)

It seems like it would better to spend the time wisely pointing out why the bills are wrong. Just one person's opinion.

That was the Constitution! Nobody really knows THESE bills?


You must be lucky to be in the state I was born in!

Yes, and HCR also

I was referring to HCR in my previous comment.

Read ALL the bills...

...including Obamacare. If they had read THAT one prior to a vote, they might be up to page 2,200 by now.

There were and are bigger bills.


You must be lucky to be in the state I was born in!

SB 1108 &1110

The bills must be read since most of our reps can't read it themselves and haven't. They'll have trouble listening and staying on task; check their computers, they'll be playing video games. They haven't heard the outcry of the people. If you people who think the majority favor destruction of education in Idaho, then why weren'l they supporting the bill and speaking out? If the legislature can ignore the people on these bills, they will ignore the people on all bills. Let freedom ring in the new educational system of Idaho. To the victor go the spoils.

Not listening!

It's the drama queens and snot nosed kids, that only know what the teachers are brain-washing with, that aren't listening to the taxpayers that only want responsibility and quality performance! LAWMAKERS! PLEASE PASS TOM LUNA'S BILLS AS ORIGINALLY DRAFTED!




You must be lucky to be in the state I was born in!

If that's the case

why when they had public comments did so very very few comment in favor of the bills when the OVERWHELMING majority opposed?

And regardless of who spoke, if the numbers are that lopsided, how, in good faith, can the legislature continue to pass these bills without first ignoring the "voice" of the people?

People with jobs

Don't have time to counter protest. We let our voices be heard during the elections. Thus a conservative Idaho!

You don't have time

to write letters to your representatives?

Plenty of opponents to the bills have jobs -- at least, for now.

Believe me we did!

Letters, e-mails, even phone calls, multiple times,legislators, governor, etc.


All those people opposed to Obama's health plan that protested... they're all unemployed?

Or do you always live by double standards?

Oh come on, you know if you

Oh come on, you know if you complain about what the D's do you're just a good conservative American. It's only if you complain about what the R's do that makes you a whining, unemployed, ne'er-do-well. The R's are fascists and they don't even know it. They probably won't until it's too late.

It sounds as if jump ropes and tether balls are required here!


You must be lucky to be in the state I was born in!

No they didn't

They used lies and if that is what you consider letting your voice be heard , you must be proud.
No wonder you aren't worried about children's futures. Your's will end up just like you a boil on
the rear end of humanity.

Before they pass these bills...

...they should announce that taxpayers will no longer being paying for sports programs in the State of Idaho. In fact, this should be part of the "Students First" mandate.

I wonder how much support these bills will have then...

Ignorant, aren't you?

You have no clue what happens in a classroom do you? Tell you what, come do my job for a week, if you can. My guess the students would have you for lunch before the first hour was up. What do you say? You got the stones for that or are you just all BS?


The only thing I have seen you post about the education bills is that the teachers are drama queens and whiners. Questions: have you read the bills? Do you realize they have very little to do with student performance? Have you been in a classroom? How many? How recently? Please read up so you can see the RESEARCH on how the "reform" being brought to Idaho is ineffective at best and is nothing more than a tactic to bust the teacher's association and send money to other states...yes...I have read and seen the proof and have lived it...and no, I am not a member of the IEA. Until you are educated in these matters and have an intelligent argument and not just name-calling, please silence yourself, Xavier.

Prisons vs Schools

Today the legislature approved a 4.1% increase budget from $155.6 million to $176.5 million for prisons in Idaho. I guess now we know where the "School Reform" savings are going.

Not quite

Our prisons get about 1/10th the funding that schools do.

Well said...

Rep. Cronin's argument was eloquently presented and very well constructed. As he stated, our state's ISAT scores have continued to go increase. Yet, according to the business industry the students are not coming in prepared. There is a huge disconnect between what schools are asked to do and the skills businesses would like. Again, great job Rep. Cronin!

Idaho businesses

I would like to see the data from Idaho businesses that show the number of employees Idaho businesses hire annually and whether the people they hire are graduates of school districts in Idaho and also if those new employees are graduates from Idaho colleges/universities. I would also like to know what those positions are, what they pay, etc. In addition, since Idaho businesses are quoted in the past as saying students are coming in unprepared, I would like to know, and I know school districts would like to know this too, what skills are students lacking? Anyone know the answers to these questions? If so, share the information.

Grab all the control

It's all about micromanaging and control. If people are in prison, they're controlled, at least that's what we're told. Just look at the privately run prison out of Boise, it's a controlled situation: The Gladiators' school in action.

Let's just send the kids to

Let's just send the kids to China for an education... it is probably much less expensive. Then we won't need a board, a union, any teachers, we can sell all the properties, and we can put an end to all this 'folderol'. And, legislators can focus on the more important issues, like getting re-elected.

WYOMING. My view will never waver, send them to Riverton.


You must be lucky to be in the state I was born in!

HB1108 Passed!

As it should have! Now pass the other two!

You're a tool.

You're a tool.

And you're on a useless website pointing out a tool.


You must be lucky to be in the state I was born in!




Heh! Heh!

SHAME . . . .

Shame on them . . . .

The Boys & Girls Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

After the next election Brian Cronin and the other Dems will have a few more Democratic members to collaborate with.

This legislature, with its ham-handed, deceptive, and abusive approach to exercising power may be best remembered as the Boys and Girls Who Kicked the Hornets Nest.

A scorned and ignored electorate will remember.

By November 2012, it will be

all about stopping President Obama. The Republican to Democrat ratio will be nearly the same when they convene in 2013.

Work begins now

Remember your words and work hard to make them come true. What does that mean? That means recruit candidates who have uncompromising intregity, are coalition builders, and support education for what it has already accomplished and what it will accomplish tomorrow. We need leaders who take a collaborative approach, reach out to all stakeholders, and who are above party politics.


Note: I had to put an * in the word cla*s to replace the "s" that would make the word dirty, lol.

You mean the education system might have to cut back and budget a few things!!! Every year it is the same thing, we need more, more, more and more. They use our kids as hostages stating how bad it is going to be on the kids and getting every bleeding heart to feel sorry for them, when all they care about is spending money the state does not have.

Almost everyone in the country has had to cut back. I'm glad to see the education system might have to start watching their pennies. And don't tell me there is not any waste that they can work on.

Maybe if we went back to making students stay in class all day and learn the basics instead of letting them out at noon our kids would learn more. Maybe we should go back to what the lower grade schools are supposed to teach; math, reading, history, etc. Instead of basket weaving, and things you can learn elsewhere our students would learn more.

When I went to school you went to cla*s from 8:00 to 3:00 (maybe 4:00) every day during the school year. It did not matter what grade you were in or how many credits you had. And the only goof off cla*ses were home education and shop. Maybe that is what we should get back to.

Consider this...

If you remember ony one thing I say, remember the following. Students do go to school from 8 am. to 3 p.m., if not earlier and later. For example, in Boise Schools elementary students attend from 8:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.; junior high students attend 7:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; and high school students attend 7:50 a.m. to 3 p.m. Students do learn the basics, math, English, reading, history, and much, much, more! They have opportunities to take a wide variety of Advanced Placement courses while in high school, including Calculus, Chemistry, Biolgy, Physics, Pre-medicine, Pre-Engineering, American Government courses, to name just a few. They do not learn basket weaving as a required course subject. Your statments are all wrong.

Nice one, "theone"

Who needs facts when they contradict with a belief...tired of all the falsehoods, half-truths, lies when this legislation has nothing to do with students.


I'm sorry but I know a lot of students that get out of school early because they have enough credits, in fact my wife went to a larger school than I did and she only went half a day her senior year.

Although the courses you listed may seem like a good idea, maybe we offering too many options in high school. For one this is not fair to students from smaller schools when they go to college as they may not have the option for some of these cla*ses. I had that problem myself when I went to college. I took a German class only to find out most of the other students were able to take German in high school which my school did not offer. I was behind most of the students in class on my first day.

Let’s put some of these advanced courses back into college where they belong, this alone would save our school system a lot of money.

Thank you, "theone".

Korp's comment makes me wonder where, when and if he/she went to school??


It’s not so much a matter of where I went to school as it is when I went to school. When I went to school we were still able to use the word God and start the day with a morning prayer (and yes it was just a public school).

And you still can . . .

. . . but you can't force anybody else to participate in your morning prayers or to believe in YOUR God, just like THEY can't force you. Isn't America a wonderful place?!?

More applications?

BK, I would start printing more applications for your school.

school funding

Now I am going to go vote. I will vote NO. I am hoping that there will be NO money for sports. It is my hope that they eliminate all sports and ALL extra curricular activities. After all it is back to the basics right?

I also hope all the idiots that voted for Luna and Otter begin to feel the impact of their ignorance.

This state is laughable!


"Now I am going to go vote." Hmm maybe you should have been voting before. And if you hate our state you do have the option of moving. Maybe California, they seem to have their finances under control, Lol.

Way to go Idaho!

With the direction we are heading, Mississippi will surpass us and then we will truly be cellar dwellars!

Wish the teachers spent as much time

giving a quality education to our kids as they do worrying about themselves. Most of the teachers I've had experience with in the last few years should only be making minimum wage for the inept jobs they're doing. Kids graduating with no knowledge of English, math, history or geography but boy they know how to text and play video games!