➤ Legislative Update Valerie Dosland, MASA Lobbyist March 26, 2021
House DFL Budget Targets This week House DFL leaders released the framework and targets for their ideas on the two-year state budget. The House DFL budget priorities include significant increases in funding for E-12 education and childcare and support for those who have been most impacted by COVID-19.
The House Education Finance committee target is $20.810 billion, which is a $721.7 million increase from current law. The target for the House Early Childhood Finance and Policy Committee, which has jurisdiction over VPK/SR+ funding, is $715.785 million, which is a $50 million increase from current law... Read More
➤ Legislative Update Valerie Dosland, MASA Lobbyist March 22, 2021
Senate Republicans Announce Budget Targets This week, Senate Republicans announced their budget targets which include an overall target of $51.9 billion for the two-year state budget. Their proposal includes an additional $152 million for E12 education, a total of $47.116 for the FY22-23 biennium. Senate Republicans highlighted some of the proposals they will advance including education savings accounts, funding for student mental health, initiatives to reduce racial disparities and increase the number of teachers of color... Read More
➤ Legislative Update Valerie Dosland, MASA Lobbyist March 15, 2021
First Deadline Arrives The first legislative committee deadline, midnight on Friday, March 12, has come. Bills must have cleared all their committees in one body, or chances of passage are greatly reduced. Bills not meeting this deadline could resurface as amendments to bigger bills or be part of final negotiations but are technically considered "dead." The second deadline, Friday, March 19, is for those bills that met the first deadline, to clear all their committees in the other body. After this deadline that we will begin to see the budget bills come together, which must meet an April 9 deadline in both bodies... Read More
➤ Legislative Update Valerie Dosland, MASA Lobbyist March 8, 2021
The pace has picked up at the Capitol considerably as committees worked to get bills heard before the first deadline on March 12th. The committee schedule is more limited due to operating via zoom in a COVID world, but committees are managing to pack their 90 minutes schedules with too many bills and too little opportunity for the public to weigh in. While some time for testimony is provided, it was limited to two minutes and very little time is given for committee discussion... Read More
➤ Legislative Update Valerie Dosland, MASA Lobbyist March 1, 2021 February Budget and Economic Forecast Twice a year the office of Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) releases a state budget and economic forecast that projects the overall fiscal stability of the state over the next biennium. After continued projections for a budget shortfall for the FY 2022-23 biennium, the February forecast now shows a $1.6 billion surplus, versus the $1.27 billion deficit that was previously anticipated. The increased forecast is attributed to an improved U.S. economic outlook, federal pandemic relief legislation and lower state spending... Read More
➤ Legislative Update Valerie Dosland, MASA Lobbyist February 22, 2021
This week the legislature plugged along on hearing bills, reviewing the Governor’s budget recommendations and agency policy bills. Next Friday, Minnesota Management and Budget will release the February forecast. After that, the pace will increase even more as the House and Senate begin their budget process. First up, House and Senate leadership will develop their respective committee targets and then committees will begin the work of developing their respective finance bills, which are due out of committee April 9... Read More
➤ Legislative Update Valerie Dosland, MASA Lobbyist February 15, 2021
Hybrid Meetings Begin The Senate held their first hybrid committee hearings this week. This is the first time this session in which multiple Senators were in the same room for a hearing. While the Senate is moving to this hybrid model, legislators. Lobbyists and the public will continue to have a virtual option to participate in the committee hearing process. The House continues to reiterate its intention to remain completely virtual. Read More...
➤ Legislative Update Valerie Dosland, MASA Lobbyist February 8, 2021
As legislators, staff, and lobbyists get used to working in a virtual world at the Capitol, the pace has notably picked up. Bill introductions are increasing, and some notable bills are popping up which differentiate the priorities between the House and Senate. Bills such as recreational marijuana, police reform, funding to reconstruct Minneapolis after the civil unrest, pandemic response, and limits to the Governor’s peacetime emergency powers. Read More...
➤ Chugging along… Valerie Dosland, MASA Lobbyist Session update - week of January 11, 2021
As everyone gets used to the new way of doing things due to COVID, session is slow to ramp up. Several factors are impacting the pace of session -- the ability for legislators to get bills drafted and introduced is taking much longer than usual; members are getting used to governing remotely; and everyone is awaiting the Governor’s budget, which will be released on Tuesday, January 26. While committee deadlines have yet to be determined, legislative leaders announced a break for the Easter/Passover holidays beginning the end of the day Friday, March 26 through Monday, April 5. Ewald Consulting 2021 Legislature Document Ewald Consulting has created a document containing the general makeup and "who’s who" of leadership and committee chairs of the 2021 Legislature. Download the PDF now. Committee updates House Education Policy Committee: This week, the committee heard HF4, legislation that includes measures to address challenges faced by school districts, teachers, and students due to COVID. The bill includes provisions to address enrollments decline and time lost due to distance learning and provide support to students. House Education Finance Committee: This week, the committee continued with overviews on various education issues, and received an update from MDE on the safe learning plan and the second round of federal COVID funding. Senate Education Finance and Policy Committee: This week, the committee held a lengthy hearing on ideas school districts would like to see to allow for more flexible learning environments. Deb Henton was joined by Superintendent Astein Osei, Superintendent Michael Muñoz, Superintendent Jason Berg, and Mahtomedi school board member, Lucy Payne advocating several different ideas. Testimony focused on ideas to move away from seat time and to allow more flexibility in implementing flexible learning year calendars, innovation zones, and online learning. House Industrial Education and Economic Development Finance and Policy: This committee heard HF14, which proposes to transfer $60 million in FY22 and FY23 from the general fund to the border-to-border broadband fund account. This funding is used primarily for grants to fund the acquisition and installation of middle-mile and last-mile infrastructure for high-speed broadband internet service in unserved and underserved areas. The bill was heard but no action will be taken until later in session when the committee makes decisions on its budget bill. Talking points for the week 1. You likely will get questions from legislators about what the federal COVID funding means for your district. It is important to supply good information about how your district is utilizing these funds but please remember to explain to your legislators the limitations these temporary federal funds have and why they are not a replacement for the ongoing needs in your district. 2. As noted above, MASA was given the opportunity to provide testimony on ideas to give school districts flexibility in determining learning environments. Please continue to share your thoughts with us and more importantly, share your ideas when talking with your local legislators. Bill introductions S.F. 147 (Clausen): A bill for an act relating to teachers; reducing school district reporting. S.F. 154 (Cwodzinski): A bill for an act relating to education finance; amending the allowed uses of long-term facilities maintenance revenue. S.F. 242 (Chamberlain): A bill for an act relating to education finance; modifying the calculation of school district equalized referendum levies. S.F. 244 (Chamberlain): A bill for an act relating to education finance; appropriating money for Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling grants. S.F. 260 (Chamberlain): A bill for an act relating to taxation; income; providing a credit for donations to fund K-12 scholarships. H. F. 217 (Hassan): bill for an act relating to education; strengthening the Increase Teachers of Color Act.
➤ 2021 Legislative Slowly Ramping Up Valerie Dosland, MASA Lobbyist Session update - week of January 11, 2021 Legislative session slowly ramping up Committee hearings began in full this week, with 87 remote hearings conducted in total. Most of these hearings were introductory in nature, with introductions of members, legislative staff and agency staff, and overviews by staff and agencies. Floor sessions this week in both the House and Senate took care of some additional basic business, such as mileage reimbursement for members and adoption of temporary and permanent rules for the body. The Legislature observes Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 18 and will begin conducting business again on Tuesday. Good budget news Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) released a monthly budget update which showed that state’s net general fund receipts for November and December FY2021 are now estimated to total $4.098 billion, $167 million (4.3 percent) more than forecast in the November 2020 budget forecast. Gov. Walz’s budget recommendations, which are due to the Legislature by January 26, must be based on the November forecast but these figures will be factored into the next economic update released at the end of February. The Governor will make any necessary changes to his budget following the release of the February forecast and that is the forecast the House and Senate will use to build their respective budget proposals. Committee updates This week, the House Education Finance Committee heard from students on the impact of COVID and distance learning and received an education finance overview from non-partisan staff. The Senate Education Finance and Policy committee also receive an education finance overview from non-partisan and heard updates from MDE on the Safe Learning Plan. The House Education Policy Committee also heard updates from MDE on the Safe Learning Plan. Talking points for the week 1. If you have not yet connected with your legislative delegation, please do so very soon. Elected officials appreciate efforts to build relationships and maintain contact as they work through issues at the legislature. 2. Like school districts, legislators are beginning to receive information on the allocation of federal coronavirus relief funds. You likely will get questions about what it means for your district. I encourage you to think about how you can show those funds will help you address costs due to COVID but also indicate why these temporary federal funds are not a replacement for the ongoing costs you have in your district. Bill introductions S.F. No. 48 (Rest): A bill for an act relating to education; authorizing school districts to renew expiring referendums by action of school board; amending Minnesota Statutes 2020, section 126C.17. H. F. 37, (Huot): A bill for an act relating to workers' compensation; creating a presumption of eligibility for school employees who contract COVID-19. H. F. 92, (Richardson) A bill for an act relating to education; modifying postsecondary enrollment provisions; amending Minnesota Statutes 2020, section 124D.09, subdivisions 9, 11, 12. H. F. 93, (Kresha) A bill for an act relating to education; extending school district fund transfer flexibility; expanding uses of long-term facilities maintenance revenue; amending Laws 2020, chapter 116, article 3, section 8. Questions? Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions about the legislative session. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org or cell a 612-490-3052.
➤ 2021 Legislative Session Begins Valerie Dosland, MASA Lobbyist Session update - week of January 4, 2021 The 2021 legislative session, which began on Tuesday, January 5, started with the normal procedural activities as well as the laying of groundwork to work remotely due to COVID-19.
The House and Senate will be holding floor sessions with very few members in person and the rest of the members present by remote means. Both bodies have implemented technology to support secure remote voting during floor sessions. For committee hearings, the House will operate fully remote and the Senate will operate remotely for the time-being with the hopes of a hybrid structure later in session.
This will provide several challenges for legislators and the members of the public. For one, the ability to interact will be hindered and require virtual meetings and visits. Secondly, the ability to process the large number of bills we typically see each session gets more challenging.
Committee structure for the 2021-2021 legislative biennium For the 2021-2022 legislative cycle, the committee structure remains the same, but some changes were made with committee chairs.
Senate Education Finance and Policy will be chaired by Sen. Roger Chamberlain. Click here to see the full list of committee members.
The House Education Finance Committee will be chaired by Rep. Jim Davnie. Click here to see the full list of committee members.
The House Education Policy Committee will be chaired by Rep. Ruth Richardson. Click here to see the full list of committee members.
The House Early Childhood Finance and Policy Committee will be chaired by Rep. Dave Pinto. Click here to see the full list of committee members.
The Senate Education Finance and Policy held a hearing the first week on getting students back to school, but no other hearings were held. This week, committees will be meeting with agendas planned for introductions and overviews.
Bill Introductions of Interest H. F. 4, (Hassan): A bill for an act relating to education finance; implementing actions to combat the educational effects of COVID-19; appropriating money. H. F. 14, (Ecklund): A bill for an act relating to telecommunications; transferring money for deposit in the broadband grant program. S.F. No. 2 (Nelson): A bill for an act relating to state government; modifying peacetime emergency authority; eliminating the authority for the governor to use peacetime emergency authority to impose restrictions on schools. S.F. No. 22 (Bakk): A bill for an act relating to telecommunications; transferring money for deposit in the broadband grant program. Legislative Toolbox Ewald Consulting puts out a series for resources called Legislative Toolbox to help you understand the nuts and bolts of the legislative process and grassroots advocacy. As we begin the legislative session, I hope you find this Legislature 101 toolbox helpful in understanding the ins and outs of how the Legislature works.
Questions? Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions about the legislative session. My email is email@example.com or cell a 612-490-3052.
➤ Special Session Update December 15, 2020 Valerie Dosland, MASA Lobbyist
Governor Walz called legislators returned to the Capitol (most attending session remotely) on Monday, December 14, for Minnesota’s seventh special session of 2020 to consider COVID relief for businesses, workers, and others facing financial difficulties due to COVID restrictions. Walz also called the special session in order to renew his peacetime emergency powers. The funding package agreed to by the Governor and legislative leaders includes $216 million for payments and grants to businesses as well as a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits. The legislation also a includes a provision to extend the deadline for school districts to finish determining a student’s eligibility for free and reduced-price meals for purposes of calculating compensatory revenue for the 2021-2022 school year, from December 15, 2020, to January 4, 2021. The House and Senate passed the bill late Monday evening and the Governor is expected to sign it in short order.
Upon approval by the Executive Council, as soon as is practicable but no later than November 30, 2020, a school district or charter school must count 30 minutes per day for teacher preparation to provide instruction to students in distance learning or a distance learning or hybrid learning model, as instructional time toward meeting the minimum hours required by Minnesota Statutes 2019, section 120A.41. This teacher preparation time is for students receiving instruction in distance learning or a distance learning or hybrid model. This time is in addition to a school district’s or charter school’s teacher preparation time established under Minnesota Statutes 2019, section 122A.50.
➤ Special Session Update: July 20, 2020 from Valerie Dosland A week after being called to special session, the House and Senate adjourned early Tuesday morning. While a policing reform bill is on its way to the Governor, the legislature was not able to pass a bonding and tax bill because the House could not obtain the necessary votes needed to pass the bill. While the focus was primarily on these other bills, there was lengthy debate in the Senate on two education proposals. The first was a Senate resolution urging the Governor to exclude public schools from any further executive orders issued under his emergency powers. The resolution passed the Senate, but a similar proposal was not taken up in the House. The second proposal was SF3, which proposed to direct $25 million out of the coronavirus relief federal fund for school reopening grants. The proposal passed the Senate, but the House did not take up this issue so nothing ultimately was passed. The House and Senate adjourned so if any proposals were to move forward, they would not do so unless Governor Walz calls another special session and the proposals a reintroduced.
➤ Special Session Update: October 15, 2020 from Valerie Dosland This week Governor Walz called the Minnesota legislature into its fifth special session of the interim. While debate continued around the use of the Governor’s peacetime emergency powers to address COVID-19, there was also movement on a bonding and tax bill. HF1, which passed both the House and Senate today, includes $1.9 billion for capital projects and some tax provisions. Although previous proposals included tax provisions of interest to schools (debt service equalization aid and a fix for school district fundraising sales), the bill passed today does not.
During the special session, Rep. Jim Davnie, Chair of the House Education Finance Committee, introduced legislation to address school district declining enrollment due to COVID-19. This bill would allow districts to use enrollment figures from either 2020 or 2019, whichever is greater. It did not advance but there is hope it might during a November special session so please connect with your state legislators and encourage them to advance this legislation.