A Communication for Education Advocates in SEE Districts - May 22, 2020
What is happening at the Capitol?
The 2020 regular session ended, leaving a bonding bill, seen as a job stimulus package, and other coronavirus actions in limbo. However, a special session will be called in June to address the governor's expiring peacetime emergency powers, which he will likely want to extend for another 30 days. Once called, only the Legislature can end a special session. Leadership has made it clear that they want to be involved with coronavirus issues, so the special session will probably continue through the rest of the year.   Read more .

As far as education, the Legislature managed to pass HF4415 as amended, the education Covid-19 relief bill and is awaiting the governor's signature. The bill is clean, sparse, and does not contain unfunded mandates. The main provisions include the following.
 
  • Assures full state funding for the 2019-20 school year adjusting funding streams that use various measurements such as student contact hours or bus route miles to calculate revenue.  
  • Allows school districts to transfer unused revenue from any operating fund or account for FY20 and FY21 to pay for salaries and costs associated with distance learning.
  • Includes the February 2020 forecast adjustments that specify the funding for the 2020-21 school year (unless changed by future legislative action). 
  • Requires that teacher candidates receive a provisional teacher license if they completed college graduation requirements but were unable to complete needed licensure exams due to coronavirus.
  • Extends the time by six months for teachers to meet the requirements to renew expiring licenses.
  • Instructs MDE to direct the discretionary federal coronavirus aid to school districts to pay for the cost associated with distance learning.
  • Provides cash flow assistance to school districts that cannot make debt service payments for school building bonds due to a delay in receiving property tax proceeds.
  • Requires information on construction and skilled trades is included in career counseling services in middle and high school. The provision was agreed upon in the last session but failed to make it into the final bill.
  •  SEE's Side by Side Comparison / Bill Language / The House Research bill summary will be posted here on the SEE website when it becomes available. (The summary dated April 30 currently 
 
The Legislature passed, and the governor signed HF331 , a bill that raises the minimum age to purchase tobacco and electronic delivery devices from 18 to 21 years old, and increases penalties for illegally selling or providing these products to underage users. Last year, the federal government passed a Tobacco 21 law, making it illegal for retailers to sell nicotine products to anyone under 21. Historically, the FDA has been notoriously ineffective at enforcing these federal laws. Thus, states, like Minnesota, have stepped up with strong laws aimed at preventing underage tobacco use. The penalties for selling, providing or trying to buy while underage, which are enforced by the state, are effective. Minnesota had seen an all-time low in the number of teenage smokers. Currently, it is already illegal to use tobacco and to carry or use an electronic delivery device in Minnesota public school buildings. However, in the past few years, teen use of e-cigarettes (vaping) has surged, and it is a big problem in schools. Most students who use e-cigarettes get them from their 18 to 20-year-old peers.  Read more . Increasing the age gap between people old enough to purchase nicotine products and middle and high school students would help keep nicotine products out of schools. The law will take effect on 8/1/20.  Bill Summary / Bill Language

Interesting and informational article:  Minnesota schools allowed to reopen for summer: Here's what it means , Minnesota Public Radio - 5/15/20

As the 2020 legislative session is over, I will not send out the Friday legislative updates from SEE. However, throughout the special session, I will keep you updated if the Legislature or governor wades into education-related issues.  
If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Deb

Deb Griffiths
Schools for Equity in Education (SEE)
Director of Communications and Community Outreach
612-309-0089