Governor Walz called lawmakers back last Friday. A special session was predicted when the Legislature adjourned sine die on May 18. Governor Walz wanted to renew the peacetime emergency and there was hope a bonding bill, that didn't get done during the regular session, would be successfully negotiated and signed.
Typically, special sessions are a day or two. Lawmakers usually have agreement on all items before a session begins. This special session is anything but typical. It is anticipated lawmakers will meet all week, and the Senate has indicated they will be done on Friday.
COVID-19 and the tragic murder of George Floyd have put vastly different priorities on this special session. Resolutions around the peacetime emergency and police reform are now top priority. However, there is work to be done in education and bills have been introduced. (Since the Legislature adjourned in May, all bills have to be reintroduced.)
Just a few weeks ago, HF 163, the education policy bill, consisted of language that both parties agreed upon, it passed the House, yet it didn't make it into law because the Senate had adjourned sine die. That language is now in a new bill, HF 33, and will be heard in committee on Tuesday afternoon.
The bill contains provisions that would:
- clarify contracts for fuel or transportation;
- modifies district reporting requirements for dyslexia;
- requires vaping instruction for middle school students;
- requires procedures for disposal of drugs;
- allows a district to conduct a functional behavioral assessment (FBA);
- allows special ed students to participate in Alternative Delivery of Specialized Instruction Services (ADSIS);
- prohibits districts from dismissing pre-K students;
- allows for different mechanisms to verify student age; and,
- adds an alternative deadline for developmental screening.
CARES Act Funding
The two major funding sources under the CARES Act are the Governors Emergency Education Relief fund (GEER) and the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund (ESSER). Each fund requires districts to complete an application. Please see the links on the left side of this newsletter or visit the MDE CARES Act website.
Distance Learning Broadband Grants
During the regular session, there were a number of bills that dealt with expanding broadband for distance learning.
Sen. Westrom and Rep. Ecklund have reintroduced bills that
would fund a program for distance learning equipment; establishing a grant program for telemedicine equipment purchased to deal with COVID-19. The bill would appropriate:
1) $15 million for emergency distance learning wireless needs on a per pupil basis,
2) $10 million for the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program that would fund broadband expansion projects in parts of the state that are most sorely lacking access to high-speed internet, and
3) $2 million for telemedicine that would reimburse licensed health care providers and counties that purchase and install telemedicine equipment to diagnose and evaluate patients with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic.
MSBA encourages you to reach out to your legislators and ask them to support the $15 million for distance learning wireless needs and expenditures for our students.
School Trust Lands
The state has historically managed some of the land it owns to generate revenue to help pay for public schools. In 2012, the Legislature made significant changes to how the state oversees the management of these School Trust Lands, but we found the impact of those changes has been limited. This partly resulted from the tardy establishment of a new oversight office in the executive branch, lack of staffing for a revamped legislative oversight commission, and inaction by the Governor and Legislature in complying with a law that required compensation of the Permanent School Fund by 2018 for certain trust lands unable to generate long-term revenues.
Tuesday, June 16 2:30 PM
Chair: Rep. Cheryl Youakim
HF 36 (Kunesh-Podein): General education provisions modified.
HF 33 (Youakim): Pre-K through grade 12 education policy changes made including general education, education excellence, teacher licensing, health and safety, special education, and early childhood education
SF 6/ HF 35
- establishing a funding program for distance learning equipment; establishing a grant program for telemedicine equipment purchased to deal with COVID-19 (Westrom/Eklund)
- appropriating money for Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling grants (Nelson)
- modifying income and corporate franchise, special taxes, and property taxes;
modifying the K-12 education expense credit,
charitable contribution subtraction, and section 179 expensing provisions; providing ongoing funding for the small business investment tax credit; extending certain deadlines; modifying certain lawful gambling tax and other provisions; providing for certain federal conformity; modifying referendum equalization levy; requiring a moratorium on reclassifying certain property (Chamberlain)
- appropriating money for the safe routes to school grant program; authorizing the sale and issuance of state bonds (Senjem)
- providing a credit for donations to fund K-12 scholarships (Chamberlain)
SF 26/HF 33
- making certain policy changes for prekindergarten through grade 12 education including general education, education excellence, teacher licensing, health and safety, special education, and early childhood education (Nelson/Youakim)
- requiring the commissioner of education to apply for the Education Stabilization Fund-Rethink K12 Education Models Grant authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (Nelson)
- requiring the commissioner of human services to apply for the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant authorized under the CARES Act (Nelson)
SF 31/HF 19
- appropriating money for child care site assistance (Nelson/Kotyza-Witthuhn)
- providing enhanced debt service equalization aid for consolidating school districts facing unique circumstances (Rarick)
- amending grievance procedure for public employment contracts (Garofalo)
- authorizing certain public school students to participate in a parent-based distance learning program (Kresha)
- modifying innovation zone provisions (Erickson)
- modifying school meal provisions (Jurgens)
- making permanent funding for the Sanneh Foundation programs (Huot)
- authorizing a grant to Black Men Teach Twin Cities to increase the number of black male teachers (Acomb)
HF 36/SF 25
- A bill for an act relating to education (Kunesh-Podein/Torres-Ray)
- modifying the child care assistance provider reimbursement rates (Pinto)
A bill for an act relating to public labor regulations; delaying implementation of the Public Employee Relations Board (Carlson, L.)
Please continue watch Twitter for updates.