January 3 marked the opening day of the 105th Legislature, Second Session, i
. This is the second year in a biennium cycle, which means senators will meet for a short, 60-day session slated to adjourn April 18.
Senators began the session debating bills carried over from last year that had public hearings and were awaiting deliberation. Speaker Jim Scheer indicated that 2017 carryover legislation without priority status will not be debated. Committees now are holding hearings on all new bills introduced this session; full-day floor debate begins February 28.
There were a few procedural items on the opening day's agenda, including election of a new Committee on Committees chairperson.
Senator Robert Hilkemann
was elected to that position left vacant when Senator Joni Craighead resigned. The body also welcomed newly appointed
Senator Theresa Thibodeau
who will fill out the term of former Senator Craighead.
Senators face the challenging task of shoring up a $173 million budget shortfall due to lower-than-expected tax receipts. This follows a year in which the Legislature already closed a $1 billion gap. All indications are that several attempts will be made to control spending and cut both income and property taxes.
This is an election year in which 16 senators are up for re-election; six senators are in their final year due to term limits and one senator has chosen not to seek re-election. This means the 2019 legislative session will commence with at least seven new senators, a 15% turnover in the body.
We've identified legislative bills across 10 categories with potential to affect early childhood, plus a more narrow
Legislation to Watch list
. The categories are: Budget/Taxes, Child Care, Child Safety, Child Welfare, Early Childhood Workforce, Economic Assistance/Public Benefits, Education, Physical & Mental Health, School Funding and Systems/Governance.
We update the status of these bills and produce a printable report daily during the legislative session, and a final report at the conclusion of the session.
To date, we've testified on these bills:
: Changes provisions related to kindergarten, early childhood education and the Step Up to Quality Child Care Act.
Read our testimony
: Redefines economic development program to include early childhood infrastructure development for cities of the first and second class villages.
Read our blog
: Provides for an early childhood element as prescribed for cities with comprehensive plans.
Read our blog.
: Constitutional amendment to reduce the minimum age in the Constitutional requirement to provide free instruction.
Read our written testimony