House Education Omnibus Passes, Senate Set to Debate Literacy Bill

HF4300, the House DFL’s omnibus education bill, passed 69-61 after a partisan debate on the floor last Wednesday. Republican members offered several amendments that were either defeated, withdrawn, or ruled out of order. Senate Education Chair Chamberlain’s Literacy Omnibus is set to hit the Senate floor this evening. The straightforward bill can be expected to pass after Democratic senators present their arguments regarding the limited scope of the bill and that the Republican majority is missing an opportunity to invest in education considering the large state surplus.

Once the Senate has passed their bill, an Education conference committee could be established. A showdown is looming between the two bodies, and it’s unclear whether conference committee negotiations will be successful in finding common ground for an education bill this year.

Deal Reached for Frontline Worker Bonuses and UI Replenishment

  • School employees may qualify
  • School employers to provide notice

After months of negotiating, House and Senate leaders reached agreement on the two issues casting a shadow over 2022 session productivity: frontline worker bonuses and unemployment insurance fund replenishment. The agreement fully repays the UI trust fund to $2.7 billion and provides $500 million to workers considered to be on the “frontlines” during the pandemic, specifically those whose jobs put them at a greater risk of contracting COVID-19. It’s estimated 667,000 qualifying workers will receive checks for $750.

School workers are eligible for the frontline worker bonus, as well as childcare and food service workers (among other sectors). To qualify for the bonus, the worker must meet all the following requirements:

  • Employed in the eligible sector for at least 120 hours in Minnesota between March 15, 2020 and June 30, 2021;
  • Was required to work in person with individuals outside of their own household;
  • Did not receive unemployment payments; and
  • Falls under certain income thresholds: $185,000 for a married taxpayer filing a joint return and $85,000 for all other filers.

Soon after the bill is signed by Governor Walz the commissioner of labor and industry must establish an application process for the bonus checks. Once the application period begins, eligible workers will have 45 days to submit their applications. Additionally, employers in frontline sectors (i.e. schools) will have to provide notice of the bonus opportunity to all employees no later than 15 days after the application period opens.

The House attempted to include language that would expand UI benefits to hourly school employees, but the provision was not accepted by the Senate during negotiations. House members Greenman and Frazier made pledges on the House floor during the bill debate to continue fighting for this issue throughout the 2022 session and beyond if necessary.

This week in Education Committees

Senate Education – Student Data Practices

Senate Education is scheduled to meet Wednesday 3pm and review SF2307, a bill related to student data privacy. MREA and other school organizations continue to have concerns about parental opt-out provisions of digital curriculum. We continue to work with the bill’s chief author, Sen. Andrew Mathews (GOP Princeton), on amendments to address this issue.

House Education Policy

No hearings scheduled.

House Education Finance

No hearings scheduled.