➤ 2021 Legislative Session Begins Valerie Dosland, MASA Lobbyist 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.