Education Bills Clear Floor Debate
It seems every legislative session has an unforeseen element or issue that alters the “normal” process. Last year, of course, was the onset of the pandemic and the Gubernatorial emergency powers. This year, the dramatic events following the Presidential transition, federal pandemic relief funds, the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, the shooting of Daunte Wright and last week’s passing of Minnesota Senior Statesman Walter Mondale make it a year for the history books.
There are just three weeks left for lawmakers to settle on budget and policy matters for Minnesotans.
The full House of Representatives debated HF 1065, the omnibus E-12 budget and policy bill, last Monday and marched it forward.
- Representative Patricia Mueller (GOP Austin) argued passionately for a three-year pilot that would allow districts to expand their short-call substitute teacher candidate pool to those who qualify as a Tier 1 paraprofessional. Her amendment was not adopted, but the Senate has a position in support of this proposal.
- Representative Glen Gruenhagen (GOP Glencoe) was successful in getting an amendment adopted that would require higher education institutions serving post secondary education option (PSEO) students to report back to the student’s high school if they drop out of their PSEO course(s).
- Representative Dean Urdahl (GOP Grove City) was successful in getting a civics course-for-credit requirement in place for students in their 11th and 12th grade years.
- Representative Eric Lucero (GOP Dayton) got an amendment added that would require schools, libraries and universities to double check that database providers abide by internet filtering protocols and prevent students from seeing sexually explicit materials. Critics of the amendment argued this would be duplicative to the Children’s’ Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and will cause administrative problems and add costs to schools. In the end, just two members of the House GOP (Greg Davids GOP-Preston and Keith Franke GOP-St. Paul Park) voted “yes” with the House DFL majority to pass the bill (73-60).
The Senate’s omnibus education bill (SF 960) had a more difficult time getting across the Senate floor. The bill included one-time funding, a voucher proposal and a hot-button social issue. Senate E-12 Chair Roger Chamberlain (GOP-Lino Lakes) defended the controversial proposal prohibiting transgendered girls from playing on girls’ teams. In the end, two DFL members (Chuck Wiger, DFL-Maplewood and David Tomassoni DFL-Chisholm) joined the GOP majority in voting “yes” to pass the bill 37-29.
Next, the two bills will go to the Education Conference Committee. The Senate hasn’t identified their picks yet, but the House named these conferees to the Education Conference Committee:
- Education Finance Chair, Jim Davnie (DFL-Minneapolis)
- Education Policy Chair, Ruth Richardson (DFL-Mendota Heights)
- Education Policy Vice Chair, Hodan Hassan (DFL-Minneapolis)
- Early Childhood Vice Chair, Laurie Pryor (DFL-Eden Prairie)
- GOP Lead for Education Finance, Ron Kresha (GOP-Little Falls)
It is unclear when the first meeting will be called to order.