Career and College ReadinessFacility FalloutTeacher Shortages

Amendments of Interest Made in House, Senate Debates

By April 30, 2016 No Comments

Before the House and Senate approved their supplemental budget bills last week, a series of key amendments were made that impact P-12 education. MREA provided a brief overview of amendments of immediate interest below.

View MREA’s complete side-by-side comparison of the legislative proposals.

House Amendments

Education Finance Chair Jennifer Loon (GOP Eden Prairie) added an amendment to increase the loan forgiveness program by $1 million to a total of $2.2 million.

Rep. Steve Drazkowski (GOP Mazeppa) got an amendment added that will require school boards to take public testimony on and adopt a plan for use of Local Optional Revenue before they levy these dollars.

Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL St. Paul) was able to add policy language creating a school counselor grant program, but no funding was included. The Senate bill includes funding and Governor Dayton is calling for $13.1 million for this program.

Senate Policy Floor Amendments of Interest

Sen. Julie Rosen (GOP Fairmont) was successful in getting an amendment passed that would require the Board of Teaching to issue a five-year license for out-of-state teachers who pass BOT exams, hold an out-of-state teaching license to teach in the same content field and grade levels as a Minnesota license; and has had at least one full school year of teaching experience as a teacher of record in the licensure field during the last five years. The vote was mostly along partisan lines, but several rural Senate DFL members voted with her and this got the amended added to the bill.

Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (GOP Big Lake) was able to get the modified citizenship test added as a graduation requirement. This is stronger language than passed the House. Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius and Governor Mark Dayton have let the legislature know they don’t support adding this test to an already over tested system.

Senate E-12 Finance Floor Amendment of Interest

Sen. Gary Dahms (GOP Redwood) was successful in expanding the allowable uses of long-term facilities maintenance revenue to include security upgrades and improvements.

A big conference committee or informal working groups?

The Senate passed a separate education policy bill while the House included their education policy provisions in their supplemental spending bill.This sets the table for a supplemental budget conference committee to begin working this week.

It’s unclear how they intend to handle the education policy provisions each body has passed. Senate Finance Chair Dick Cohen (DFL St. Paul) who will chair the Senate side of the supplemental budget conference committee traditionally has not wanted to deal with policy issues in the supplemental budget negotiations.

It’s possible for leadership to establish a separate conference committee to deal with education policy issues. In the past they’ve created informal working groups to sort through policy issues. The working group process is even less transparent than conference committee which is bad enough on the transparency front as is.