The Minnesota Legislature is set to hold a floor session on April 14 with an education COVID-19 response bill in the works for action.
The House and Senate are operating under unique rules that allow elected members of each chamber to participate and vote remotely. The agreement to suspend rules and take fast action on legislation requires agreement by all four caucuses: House DFL, House GOP, Senate GOP and Senate DFL, in addition to the Governor’s office.
Gov. Tim Walz delivered the State of the State address Sunday evening, live streamed from the Governor’s mansion. He thanked Minnesotans for their commitment to battling the COVID-19 pandemic, acknowledging the hardship it’s caused and reminded us that we’re hardy Minnesotans.
There are disagreements on timing and scope of the education COVID-19 response bill.
- The Governor’s Executive Order 20-19 and subsequent guidance by the Minnesota Department of Education are providing the law of the land, at least through the distance learning period.
- Most questions about programs and services from now until next school year will be answered through an ongoing agency interaction.
- Still, the House and Senate would like to put their fingerprints on legislation that would help guide the distance learning process.
Both bodies appear to agree that shoring up several state aids to schools is important. Focus areas include: special education transportation, nutrition, career and tech, inter-district desegregation aid and adult basic education aid.
Obviously, continuing as many revenue streams to schools is important for future planning in addition to ensuring the “forecast base” is at current levels. The forecast base is important because it dictates the starting point for school revenues as we head into the next fiscal biennium.
If not passed on April 14, the Legislature has until midnight on May 17 to pass any remaining legislation for the current session.
In order to help the legislation through this process, MREA signed onto a letter with several education advocacy organizations outlining our thinking on the situation. View the letter.
Stay apprised of resources and news on COVID-19 for schools at: MREAvoice.org/covid19