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Map of School Closures Due to COVID-19
32 states, as of April 19, have closed schools for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.


Governor Walz has issued several Executive Orders to deal with COVID-19.
Webinar - Legislative Update - Recorded April 10
Webinar - School Board Meetings and COVID-19
Week 11 - April 20, 2020
Legislative Update
The House and Senate returned from spring break and  legislative activities are in full swing. The Senate announced Tuesday they would resume a meeting schedule of every three days, which would be the "normal" Monday and Thursday floor sessions.

House Property Taxes
The House Tax Committee will hear HF 4371 which would  allow counties to distribute any property tax payments received after the first - half settlement day in May , for taxes payable in 2020 only . Counties would be allowed to choose a second settlement d ate for first - half payments and would be required to distribute the funds to local jurisdict ions and to the state in the same manner in which they distribute first - half payments. Counties choosing to do this would also be required to file the same state auditor reports that are required for distribution of first - half payments
 
Economic Outlook
Video available by clicking photo

Commissioner Myron Franz and State Economist Dr. Laura Kalambokidis from Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) addressed questions in last Monday's Ways and Means Committee. He shared the need for data to fully understand Minnesota's financial outlook. Some of that data will be part of a budget projection that will be released in the first part of May.

Senate Education
The Senate heard SC 7474 on Wednesday. The language addressed school closure issues due to COVID-19. One key provision addresses the much needed forecast adjustments in 11 areas. These adjustments are also addressed in the House bill (HF 4415 DE10); however, one large difference between the two is the House language seeking to ensure hourly workers are protected against layoffs and ensured payments.

Referendum Renewal
Sen. John Jaskinski introduced SF 4465, a bill that would allow school boards to renewal of referendum for one year.
The bill is only for the a referendum that expires in fiscal year 2021 and the per-pupil amount of the referendum is the same.
School boards would be required to adopt a written resolution authorizing the renewal after informing school district residents and providing a way to receive written comments. Further, school boards must adopt a resolution  by August 15.

Congress Action Alert
Please ask Congress to provide additional funding, as well as flexibility, in meeting some of the requirements under IDEA.
 
If your district is struggling to meet IDEA mandates, we urge you to take a moment to email congressional leadership and the Minnesota congressional delegation asking them to ensure the next COVID-19 relief package contains additional revenue and sensible, flexibility for IDEA. Secretary DeVos has just a few days left to request waivers.  
 
For your convenience, we have a template letter for you to use. We ask you to take a few moments today or tomorrow to  email the letter to your U.S. Senator or U.S. Representative and please copy us so we can help follow-up with members.
 
In Review - Minnesota
 
4th COVID-19 Bill
Governor Tim Walz signed HF 4556 last Tuesday.  The legislation contains a smaller appropriation, $1.25 million, that will go to Second Harvest to help with the increasing demands of food shelves.   
 
Peacetime Emergency Clarification 
Governor Walz extended the peacetime emergency extension through May 13. The peacetime emergency order provides the Governor with certain tools to respond to the threat of COVID-19, such as providing economic relief to those impacted by the crisis and activating the National Guard to assist in relief efforts. The peacetime emergency order is different than the Stay Home Order, which lasts until May 4, directs Minnesotans to minimize activities outside of their homes.
 
Affordable Insulin
The Legislature also passed the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act, which will provide critical relief to Minnesotans who need insulin to survive. Governor Walz signed the legislation Wednesday. 
 
Federal  
Education Stabilization Fund - Including Governor's Education Emergency Relief (GEER) Fund
Last Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Education made available $43 million for Minnesota, part of the nearly $3 billion allocated to the Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER Fund), authorized by the CARES Act.  
 
The allocation is set by statutory formula, based on Minnesota's student-aged population and poverty levels. This extraordinarily flexible emergency block grant empowers Governor Walz to decide how best to meet the current needs of students and schools (including charter schools and non-public schools.) Post-secondary institutions, and other education-related organizations will also receive portions of the funds.  
 
Secretary DeVos encouraged the Governor to focus these resources on ensuring that all students continue to learn through some form of remote learning and to ensure they don't fall behind. Funds could be used to provide students internet connectivity and internet-connected devices to boost access to distance learning.
 
Education Groups Push For $200 Billion In New Coronavirus Emergency Aid
Politics K-12 blog reports prominent education groups sent a letter to Democratic and Republican leaders Monday asking for "upwards of $200 billion in new aid to help them deal with the coronavirus." In addition to "at least $175 billion in state stabilization funding for K-12 budgets," the letter says "Title I programs for disadvantaged students should get a $12 billion boost, and special education should get a fresh $13 billion in funding. And the 12 organizations reiterated previous demands that Congress should provide $2 billion to promote remote learning for students through the E-Rate program, as well as ensure 'explicit' support for schools in any package to shore up the nation's infrastructure." According to EdWeek, "discussions are underway about whether there will be a fourth major bill from Congress addressing the coronavirus pandemic and if so, what would be in it."  
 
Upcoming Meetings and Events  
Tuesday April 21 9:45 AM 
Education Finance Division - House
Live Video - HTV 1
Chair: Rep. Jim Davnie
Agenda:
HF 4415 Compensation for hourly employees required for school days cancelled due to COVID-19 (coronavirus) during the 2019-2020 school year.
Please see the attached A14 amendment. (Davnie)
The entirety of HF4415 , as amended, was given an informational hearing on 4/7. Any new testimony will be focused on the attached amendment.

Wednesday, April 22  8:00 AM
Taxes - House
Live Video HTV 2
Chair: Rep. Paul Marquart
Agenda:
This is an informational hearing only, no bills will be heard.
I. Overview from House Research and House Fiscal on tax items included in the federal CARES Act with state tax implications
II. Department of Revenue presentation on action taken in response to COVID-19
**Documents associated with this Remote Hearing will be posted to the committee page.**
This remote hearing may be viewed live via the following methods:
1) Live stream via House website
2) YouTube

Wednesday, April 22 8:30 AM
Finance - Senate

Chair: Sen. Julie A. Rosen
Live on YouTube
Live on Public Senate Stream
Agenda:    
S.F. 4494  COVID-19 telemedicine equipment grant program establishment; distance learning broadband access grant program establishment; appropriations. (Westrom)

Wednesday, April 22 2:30 PM
Education Policy - House
Live Video -HTV 1
Chair: Rep. Cheryl Youakim
Agenda:
HF 2383  School trust lands director provisions modified. (Sandstede)

Friday, April 24  3:00 PM
E-12 Finance and Policy - Senate
Chair: Sen. Carla J. Nelson
Livestreamed at YouTube or Senate Media
Agenda:
To be announced.

Check the Combined Legislative Meeting Calendar for updates and additions.

Please watch Twitter for updates.    
 
Bill Introductions
H.F. 4542 -making forecast adjustments to funding for general education, education excellence, teachers, special education, facilities, fund transfers, and accounting, nutrition and libraries, early childhood, and community education and lifelong learning; adjusting base appropriations (Davnie)  
H.F. 4555 - providing supplemental funding for prekindergarten through grade 12 education; making forecast adjustments (Davnie)
S.F. 4465 - authorizing school districts to renew expiring referendums for one year by action of school board. (Jasinski) 
S.F. 4468 - authorizing special education aid to include an on-site education program adjustment (Chamberlain) 
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