The legislature was busy last week, including work on a handful of omnibus bills that include more policy than finance adjustments. Governor Dayton and legislative leaders are close on negotiating a series of bills dealing with business tax relief, HHS spending (a result of $73 million in HMO refunds) and education policy. The bonding bill is still in the mix despite not having cleared either body yet. The GOP has offered a larger bonding bill, north of $500 million, but less than the Governor’s $775 million, in exchange for Dayton’s signature on LIFO. He’s said repeatedly that he won’t sign LIFO. And, of course, there’s a possible vote on a Vikings’ stadium bill. Most agree that session will end by Monday, April 30th.
Education issues remaining
There are still a handful of education issues moving as separate bills including:
- LIFO (HF 1870) – conference committee has finished work; tied up in big picture negotiations with the bonding bill
- Restrictions on school employee lobbying activities (HF 329) – passed the House, awaiting Senate action; Governor is skeptical of the need for this bill
- Permanent School Trust Fund Governance (HF 2244) – conference committee still working; appears to be agreement among legislators to establish a legislative commission that will work with a Governor appointed director to oversee PSTF lands use; it’s unclear if the Governor will sign this bill as the DNR is opposed to this change.
- Digital learning requirements (SF 1528) – sitting in conference committee, but the digital credit mandate won’t be included in the final proposal.
Last Friday, a conference committee on HF 2949 wrapped up their work on several education policy issues that have been floating around this session. The conference committee was made up of a bi-partisan group of legislators, and Commissioner Cassellius participated in the negotiations and indicated that the final product is something Governor Dayton can sign into law.
HF 2949 includes the following provisions:
- PSEO expansion – the bill does expand PSEO to 10th graders, but it doesn’t allow them to attend for-profit trade schools. They can only enroll in existing UM/MNSCU colleges. And – those colleges can only advertise to high school students with information about educational programs, not financial considerations. This is a more subtle expansion of PSEO than what the Senate came to conference committee with.
- Career & Tech Levy – the level will be flat for the next two years, but after that, districts will be able to levy 35% of their C&T expenditures.
- Language allowing districts to establish a combination of chemistry and physics standards that can be achieved in Career & Tech courses made it into the final bill. Rep. Deb Kiel and Sen. LeRoy Stumpf worked hard for these changes.
- Literacy incentive aid will now be based on a district’s third grade and fourth grade count.
- In light of the new Basic Skills Test requirement for new teachers, the conference report includes a one year extension for teachers needing to pass the basic skills test. If you taught on your one-year license this year, the Board of Teaching can approve you for 2012-13 notwithstanding the new BST requirement.
- A requirement that 35% of a principal’s evaluation be based on student performance data.
You can read the HF 2949 conference report here:
Senator Franken supports educational programs
Senator Franken recently signed onto a letter in support of appropriations for Perkins funding programs, a letter of support for Parental Information and Resource Center programs and a letter of support for more funding for IDEA and special education. Senator Franken is on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP).