Quick Links
Governor Walz has issued several Executive Orders to deal with COVID-19.
Webinar - Legislative Update
Webinar - School Board Meetings and COVID-19
Week 9 - April 6, 2020
COVID-19 Response Workgroups and House Education Committee Hearings
Looking Forward
It appears the Legislature will be working this week which normally would be scheduled for spring break.

Then again, these aren't normal times.

The Government Relations team has been working on the front lines and behind the scenes to address both COVID-19 proposed legislation and to keep other education related provisions moving when the Legislature resumes.

Late Sunday, floor sessions were called for Tuesday, April 7 (House at noon and Senate at 2 pm) to pass workers' compensation related to COVID-19 legislation. In addition, several committees will be meeting this week. Some on an informational basis and others have bills on the agenda. Both the House Education Finance Division and House Education Policy Committee will meet virtually this week and are expected to address COVID-19 concerns.

In his daily briefing last week, Governor Walz said there was a "very slim chance" districts would be returning to school buildings this year and thus eluding to the reality that students may finish the academic year with distance learning. Across the country, many states have already made that decision.

Districts across the country are also waiting to see if U.S. Department of Education Secretary DeVos will seek congressional approval to waive parts of the federal special education law while schools combat the coronavirus pandemic. The CARES Act signed on March 27 provides DeVos a 30-day window to seek waivers. MSBA has sent a letter to Minnesota's congressional delegation and Secretary DeVos requesting new flexibility be given to school districts under IDEA. We asked the Department of Education to consider waivers from timelines for evaluating students and for relief from stringent rules for adjusting students individualized education plans.

Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) will release a quarterly Revenue and Economic Update on April 10 that will detail the changes in the U.S. economic outlook and give updates on Minnesota's tax receipts.  This report will provide important information as to the short-term and long-term budget outlook in MN.  This is will give us a glimpse of what may be in store for revenues in the next biennium.

In Review
Governor Walz State of the State Address
Sunday evening Governor Walz gave a very brief State of the State address via video from the Governor's Residence. His remarks were about Minnesotan's resiliency and how we have reacted well to this pandemic.
Minnesotans will continue to hear from the Governor on a daily basis with his updates on COVID-19 and its impact on the state.

Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) Minnesota Teaching and Learning Implementation Guidance
On April 2, MDE updated Guidance to include:

* Fee-based Program Staffing - The Executive Order does not preclude districts or charter schools from making budget-based layoffs of staff and administrators for programs where dedicated funding streams don't exist, in accordance with applicable local labor agreements. Districts and charter schools should consult their attorneys for questions about compliance with employment contracts and with questions about unemployment compensation.  
* Literacy Aid - Due to the disruption in statewide assessments, the calculation of Literacy Incentive Aid will be modified for FY 2021. As testing results will not be available for 2020, FY 2021 Literacy Incentive Aid will be calculated on 2017, 2018 and 2019, the same years of testing results as used for FY 2020, but with updated October 1 enrollment counts.
* COVID-19 Testing - Child care providers and educators providing care for children of emergency workers who are symptomatic are on the state's priority list for COVID-19 testing. As equipment, collection supplies and lab capacity changes, health care providers may adjust which populations they test.

Senate COVID-19 Working Group
Last week the Legislature held its first meeting with the Senate COVID-10 Response Working Group. The 11 member working group will review and discuss the state's current response and future needs to COVID-19. It will review bills and funding to provide oversight.

Members heard an update from Mary Krinkie, vice president of government relations at the Minnesota Hospital Association. Hospitals have been hit hard by the pandemic as well and are losing $31 million each day because of the Executive Order (which they supported) to not allow elective procedures during the crisis.

On Tuesday, the Working Group heard an update from MN Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), Commissioner Steve Grove as well as from several Minnesota businesses about the impact COVID-19 has had on their business. There was also a global view of jobs and economy shared by President Neel Kashkari of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve.

These working group meetings are extremely informative, interesting and available for you to watch online.

We will continue to keep you updated through Twitter and Special Editions of The Weekly Advocate. You can also learn more about the proposed legislation by listening to our Legislative Update Webinar .

Upcoming Meetings and Events
Monday, April 6  11:30 AM
COVID-19 Response Working Group
Chair: Sen. Paul E. Gazelka
Livestreamed: on Facebook
*State Budget Outlook, Commissioner Myron Frans - Minnesota Management and Budget
*State and National Economic Update, Dr. Laura Kalambokidis, State Economist - Minnesota Management and Budget
*National State Budgeting Trends since COVID-19 Threat, Erica MacKellar, Program Principal, Fiscal Affairs Program - National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and Mandy Rafool, Group Director, Fiscal Affairs Program, NCSL

Tuesday, April 7  9:45 AM      
House Education Finance Division
Live Video

Informational Hearing on HF 4415 (Davnie) Compensation for hourly employees required for school days cancelled due to COVID-19 (coronavirus) during the 2019-2020 school year.
Summary of DE9 Amendment for HF 4415

Tuesday, April 7  11:00 AM
COVID-19 Response Working Group
Chair: Sen. Paul E. Gazelka
Livestreamed: on Facebook
The Long-term Care Imperative

Tuesday, April 7 12 PM
House Floor Session

Tuesday, April 7 2:00 PM
Senate Floor Session

Wednesday, April 8 2:30 PM
House Education Policy
House File 4415 (Davnie) - Please see the DE9 link above

Please watch Twitter for updates.  
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