NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
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Sen. Mike Groene

Sen. Mike Groene

District 42

Home District Column 2/9/2017

February 10th, 2017

Tuesday, we presented LB595 to allow teachers’ disciplinary control of their classrooms. Discipline in the classroom to allow students to focus and learn and teachers to effectively communicate to the entire class is the purpose of LB595. The present Student Discipline Act outlines what student behavior may lead to discipline and empower school boards to adopt additional conduct policies. The Act authorizes short and long term suspension, expulsion, and mandatory reassignment as well as describes the student’s due process rights.

There is a gap, however, as to what actions teachers and administrators may take to contain a violent incident by an unruly student. LB595 fills in this gap, it allows teachers and administrators to use necessary force or physical restraint to subdue the student until such student no longer presents a danger to him or herself, other students, the teacher or administrator, or school property. The bill also allows teachers to remove a student who repeatedly interfered with the teacher’s ability to teach, or whose behavior is so disruptive that it seriously interferes with the class’ ability to learn. The administration can then place the student in another classroom, in-school suspension, or into alternative education programs. The student cannot be returned to the original classroom without the teacher’s permission.

This bill will give teachers and administrators the assurance that they have control of their classroom without fear of legal action or administrative discipline if they acted in a reasonable manner.

I have gained a higher respect for teachers after receiving a multitude of correspondence as to the violence they are experiencing in Nebraska classrooms. The Nebraska State Education Association (NSEA) testified in favor of the bill citing an email survey they conducted on the issue last Sunday. They had the largest response they have ever had to a member survey; overwhelmingly, teachers said there is a growing discipline problem in our schools. 80% said classroom violence is increasing, 80% said they want more control of their classroom.  I now understand that when I ask a former teacher why they retired early, they simply say in some form or another: deterioration on classroom discipline.

LB595 enforces learning in a classroom; not only does it allow learning to happen, it allows teachers to instruct students that there are behavior boundaries that all citizens should follow.  It’s a common-sense approach.  We’re working with all parties to make this work for everyone involved.

You may have noticed recently that there has been a concerted attack on debate points I have made in private conversations. I am undaunted, I take solace in a quote from Mother Teresa “Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable, be honest and transparent anyway”

Upcoming hearing dates:

February 15th Wednesday afternoon in the Natural Resources Committee

LB218 – N-CORPE shall sell land while retaining water rights and requiring review of project with public hearing.

LB488 – Department of Natural Resources creates voluntary irrigation water conservation grants to farm irrigated land as dry land on annual basis. LB488 will give a common-sense alternative for farmers to conserve groundwater instead of mining it and pumping it into a creek.

February 16th Thursday afternoon in the Revenue Committee

LB640 – Cap individual school districts property taxes at 60% of total revenue. Lowers maximum tax rate to 1.00

This bill is meant to work on property taxes and school finance in a more straightforward way.  It restores equity funding to districts who didn’t get it.  It will take out some of the variables that allowed for property taxes to grow in each district without approval of the local board.

Feb 21st Tuesday afternoon in the Urban Affairs Committee

LB 262 – Limits the use of open land for Tax Increment Financing (TIF)

LB489 – Removes ambiguous language from TIF statutes

LB597 – Provides oversight by the Department of Revenue for TIF programs

The three TIF legislation proposals will give state oversight, remove ambiguous language and clarify the definition of open land in its use in TIF projects.

Please do not hesitate to contact my office mgroene@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2729 with any comments, questions, or concerns.

Sen. Mike Groene

District 42
Room #1107
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2729
Email: mgroene@leg.ne.gov
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