With this being a shorter legislative session, elevators, hallways, hearing rooms, and cafeterias at the Capitol are filled with stakeholder groups, elected officials, school children and many others. The positive budget forecast represented the biggest news of the week with these key items also making headlines:
- Teacher Pension
- Gun Control
- Special Education Study Group
- Telecom Aid (TEA)
Get the updates and corresponding bill details below:
TRA – Pensions
The Pensions Commission on Tuesday rolled out the omnibus bill for 2018, SF 2620/HF 3053. It is, for the most part, the same bill from 2017 with a few changes. MREA will be testifying in support of SF 2620 on March 6. The Commission will vote to send the bill to the House and Senate on March 13. Learn more about TRA in SF 2620
The House Public Safety Committee held a hearing on Thursday relating to modifying gun laws. The hearing drew a huge crowd from both sides of the issue. People were waiting outside the Capitol as early as 8am to get a seat to watch. There were so many citizens that overflow hearing rooms were needed to watch the proceedings.
By all accounts the conversations were civil and both sides tried to work on things they could agree upon. In the end the bills (HF1605 and HF1669) were tabled for further discussion citing the need to have more conversation before any action could be taken. Learn more about what’s next for school safety.
Special Ed Study Group
Both the House and Senate Education Policy Committees held hearings Thursday on bills calling for study of special education and costs in Minnesota.
The House Innovation Policy Committee heard HF2846 calling for a stakeholder work group. There are currently 16 organizations, including MREA, listed as members. Chair Sondra Erickson implied there may be more when she observed, “We don’t want to exclude any group.”
SF2698 was then heard by the Senate E-12 Policy Committee. This bill calls for a legislative work group composed of six Senators and six Representatives, which to consult with stakeholders “including but not limited to 15 organizations, including MREA, listed. “We don’t want to be exclusionary,” Chief author, Sen. Eric Pratt, stated in testimony.
It is safe to conclude the legislature will call for a Special Education Study Group this summer and fall. The composition and structure will be worked out in Conference Committee
The House Innovation Policy Committee also on Thursday heard emotional testimony from parents including committee member Rep. Barb Haley, former MSBA President Kevin Donovan and others, on dyslexia in support of HF3013, the A18 amendment, which is not yet available online.
It adds one hour to the required the teacher re-licenure checkbox in reading to “understand… and recognize dyslexia characteristics in students.” This is down from five hours in the original bill and is much more limited in the scope of intended outcomes.
Deadlines for legislation in the House and the Senate were announced this past week. These are the dates that bills need to be heard by to be potentially included in any omnibus bills.
- Thursday, March 22: Bill needs to be out of all policy committees in either the House or the Senate.
- Thursday, March 29: Bill needs to be out of all policy committees in both bodies.
- Friday, April 20: All bills need to be out of any budget division and to either Tax Committee or Finance/Ways and Means Committee.
With the announcement of deadlines, the pace will get even more frantic in the coming weeks. Organizations will be working with legislators to get bills passed by the deadline and committee agendas will start to fill up quickly.