Student Opportunity Gaps

Closing out the 2012 Session

By April 30, 2012 No Comments

The legislature’s self imposed April 30th deadline to adjourn sine die (Latin for we’re out of here for good this time!) is upon us, and they still have not passed a bonding bill, which is the traditional signature bill of an even numbered year session. The Vikings’ stadium is still in the mix as is a bill to freeze corporate property tax burdens in the future. The legislature was in session until late Saturday night when leadership decided to shut it down until noon on Monday. Saturday’s session was the 112th legislative day of the current biennial session. The state’s constitution says they can meet for up to 120 legislative days. They have to meet at least once every three days in session, so they could stretch this out until the other constitutional end date of May 21 (first Monday after the third Saturday in May), but most likely they will try to wrap up this week. Also of note, the legislature cannot pass bills “on a day prescribed for adjournment.” Day 120 and May 21 this year are prescribed for adjournment; therefore, they have seven legislative floor session days left to vote on bills.

Negotiations with the Governor continue, but there doesn’t appear to be any progress. GOP leaders had hoped to get Governor Dayton to agree to sign LIFO (HF 1870) in exchange for a larger bonding bill and a Vikings stadium bill. Without an agreement in place, the Senate took final action on LIFO and passed it late Saturday night. The House passed it Thursday. The bill

will be presented to the Governor on Monday, and he will have at least three days to sign or veto it. If Saturday’s floor session turns out to be one of the last three legislative days then the Governor will have 14 days to sign, veto or “pocket veto” whereby he simply doesn’t sign it into law and it’s vetoed by default. Dayton has said repeatedly that LIFO is non-negotiable and that he won’t sign it.

HF 2244 Signed: Legislative Permanent School Fund Commission
Governor Dayton signed a bill the legislature and education groups have been working on for several years. HF 2244 creates a legislative commission made up of six members of the House and six of the Senate. The majority parties get to appoint three in each body and likewise for the minority parties. This is meant to ensure that decisions made by the Commission are truly bi-partisan.

The legislation also creates a Director of School Trust Lands appointed by the Governor. This person shall office at the Department of Administration and shall advise the Governor, Commission, DNR Commissioner and Executive Council (Constitutional Officers who make up the State Board of Investment) on many issues including: DNR management plans, leases, royalties, land sales and exchanges, cost certification (DNR bill backs), and other revenue generating options. The Director shall develop a ten-year strategic plan and a 25-year framework for management of school trust lands with goals to retain or increase real estate values and the cash flow from those assets.

The DNR Commissioner must report to the Legislative Commission on activities and expenses related to management of school trust lands. The DNR must prepare by December 2013 a comprehensive inventory of school trust lands that are under a designation that prohibits long-term economic return. The DNR must prepare a plan to compensate the permanent school fund through the purchase or exchange of these lands or develop a plan to manage these lands to generate long-term economic growth.

The new legislation will take time to unfold, and it certainly doesn’t add new revenue to education programs this year. However, this legislation may be a seminal policy reform that educators, students and the public look back on 20 years from now and thank a previous generation for their conscientiousness toward the public good.

HF 2949 Signed: Omnibus Education Policy
Governor Dayton signed the omnibus education policy bill (HF 2949) into law. This is the bill that contains an expansion of Post Secondary Education Options to 10th graders. Local flexibility for designing career and technical education courses to meet physics and chemistry standards is also included.

Almost as important as what’s included in this bill is what isn’t included. Restrictions on local operating and bond referenda elections were in play this session, but MREA and other organizations were there to defend local control.

A comprehensive list of new policy and those that were defeated will be issued when the legislature adjourns sine die. A list of retiring legislators is forthcoming as well with a look ahead to the November 2012 election.

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