This winter’s large number of school closures sparked legislative action in both bodies. The Minnesota House and Senate have passed different bills providing options for school districts regarding school closings this year. A conference committee has been named to resolve the disagreements and bring forth one proposal.
The conference committee, sometimes referred to as the fourth branch of government, is co-chaired by the bills’ chief authors. In this case, Rep. Shelly Christensen, first year legislator from Stillwater, and Sen. Carla Nelson, Senate E-12 Chair from Rochester. A conference report needs a majority vote of each bodies members—a minimum of two House members and two Senate members.
The members from each body include:
- House: Shelly Christensen, Cheryl Youakim, and Dean Urdahl
- Senate: Carla Nelson, John Jasinski, and Chuck Wiger
There are a number of differences between the bills as shown in the chart below.
|Topic||HF1982 (Christensen)||SF1743 (Nelson)|
|Applicability||School districts may by board action use this proposed session law||Same|
|Applicable Days||3—Jan 29-31, 2019||Days and hours that a school district declared a snow day in the 2018-19 school year and chooses to apply to this session law|
|Employees||If the employee was not compensated, the school district must allow the employee to work another day or receive compensation for the days missed||Similar language with provision that the language applies only if the employment contract does not provide for school closings|
|Contracted Employees||Employers that contract to provide services are encouraged to compensate employees directly or offer additional hours of work||No provision|
|Probationary Teachers||Waives 120 day requirement if not met due to instructional days cancelled due to inclement weather||Similar|
MREA’s position has been to:
- Ensure this is optional to school districts whether to use their policies and contracts to meet the minimum required days and hours or use the provisions of a presumed to be passed session law
- Encourage the conference committee to resolve their differences quickly and report out a conference report. School districts need to know soon what their options are.