No global agreement between Minnesota legislative leaders and Gov. Tim Walz on how to wrap up the 2020 session left the House and Senate were left scrambling. They sought to salvage a series of policy and minor fiscal bills as Sunday drifted toward the midnight deadline to adjourn.
- E-12 Finance Bill passes and now awaits the governor’s signature.
- E-12 Policy Bill passes the House, but does not get approved in the Senate before the midnight deadline.
- Special Session is expected in mid-June.
The House and Senate each tried to pass their own version of a bonding bill, the marquee piece of legislation for the session, but both versions failed to gain sufficient support in their respective bodies.
Lingering issues revolving around authority over federal relief funds, federal tax conformity and the state employee contract amidst a projected deficit made it difficult for leaders to come to terms.
Knowing they will likely return in mid-June for a special session due to Gov. Walz continuing the peacetime emergency order to deal with the pandemic likely aided in the lackluster finish to the 2020 regular session.
E-12 Finance Bill Passes
The Legislature did pass an E-12 finance bill, HF 4415. The bill does not contain the much hyped “hourly worker” provision DFLers wanted to pass. Instead, the bill codifies several of Gov. Walz’s education related executive orders around school finance and policy waivers around teacher licensure renewals.
It assures that the forecasted expenditures for special education and other categories of funding will continue despite service interruptions due to distance learning. The bill also includes broad fund transfer authority for the current fiscal year ending on June 30 and for the next fiscal year. View the bill.
E-12 Policy Bill Misses Midnight
There was an agreement on a scaled back Education Policy bill (HF 163 as amended by the DE4), but the House passed it just as the clock struck midnight and there wasn’t time for the Senate to take up the message and send it to the Governor.
The bill included:
- Technical change to school bus contracts
- 45 day referendum notice, instead of 30 day notice
- Dyslexia screening
- Teacher mental illness training requirement upon licensure renewal
- Vaping awareness and prevention
- Unclaimed drug policy
- Special Ed changes to Functional Behavior Assessments
- PreK dismissal changes
- Interagency early intervention in cooperation with county and tribal agencies as well as HHS agencies
Special Session Expected
Assuming the Legislature is called into a special session in mid-June to address the continuation of the governor’s peacetime emergency order, the House DFL will want to push for the Education Policy bill to be included in the agenda. However, this may be difficult as there will be a major focus at that time on getting a bonding bill passed in addition to the state employee contract and how to best absorb federal relief funds as they start to flow into the state’s coffers.