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2018 Legislative Session
Week Eleven - April 30, 2018

Legislative Update
Omnibus Bills  
Both the House (H.F. 4328) and Senate (S.F. 3656) heard education finance omnibus bills on the floor Thursday.

We encourage you to open the side-by-sides where you will find short, easy-to-read comparisons on what is contained in both bills. The Senate policy omnibus bill will be heard on the Senate Floor Tuesday. We will update the side-by-side once it passes.  

H.F. 4328 passed off the House floor on a final vote of 94 ayes and 29 nays. Chair Jenifer Loon presented the finance part of the bill, followed by Chair Sondra Erickson's overview of the policies incorporated in it. Two hallmark provisions were included in the final bill: $28.5 million dedicated to school safety and a special education cross-subsidy work group.

On Thursday afternoon, the Senate heard 41 Articles of its mega omnibus bill (S.F. 3656). Chair Carla Nelson provided an overview of the education finance provisions (Articles 33-41) after several hours of other articles. An amendment to extract the academic balance policy from the bill was defeated 34-31; therefore, the language to require a school board to adopt a policy on academic balance remains.

Your Voice is Needed on Issues
Special Education Cross-Subsidy Resolutions
MSBA continues to receive resolutions from all over the state, asking the Minnesota Legislature and U.S. Congress to reduce the burden school districts experience with the cross-subsidy. Nearly 200 school boards have submitted resolutions and are adding green to the map. State Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius has referenced those resolutions in testimony.

Special Education Funding
Currently, two proposals are being considered. The Governor's plan would dedicate $20 million to reducing the cross-subsidy statewide. The House provision that offers $20 million to a group of districts whose cross-subsidy aid is greater than the regional average, was amended to start in fiscal year 2022.
At this junction in session, it is important for you to reach out to your senator and Governor Dayton to express the need to help with special education funding. Governor Dayton's plan is a more fair way to distribute state resources. Approximately 275 school districts and charter schools would receive some sort of aid immediately.

Under the House provision, 129 school districts and charters would receive aid, but not starting until 2022.

Academic Balance
A provision requiring school boards to adopt an academic policy is still a part of the Senate education finance omnibus bill. The policy raises concern of violating free speech and inhibiting high-level teaching and learning in classrooms if passed. This provision would be effective for the 2018-19 school year, leaving little time for school boards for development and implementation.
Ask your senator to not support the academic balance provision.

Several proposals in the tax bill relate to school districts and were introduced to House members Monday afternoon.  
  • One proposal requires a school district to state on both its referendum ballot and on its notice to taxpayers the amounts of any board-approved local optional revenue and board-approved referendum authority.
  • One proposal restricts when a school district may hold a referendum or reverse referendum to (1) modify a levy, (2) issue debt, or (3) purchase real property to the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November, instead of one of five possible dates. Provides that this limit on election dates doesn't apply to referendums held to deal with an emergency or disaster.

  Contact your legislator and ask him/her to say no to any new ballot requirements. 


Health and Human Services  
The Senate includes school-linked mental health services. Funds may be used to purchase equipment, for connection charges, on-site coordination, set-up fees, and site fees in order to deliver school-linked mental health services via telemedicine. To see the House and Governor's proposals, please see the safe schools side-by-side comparison.

Ask your legislator to include the Senate proposal, which allows for on-site coordination of telemedicine. 
Part of the transportation finance omnibus bill (H.F. 4437) would place a constitutional amendment question on the 2018 ballot for voters to consider a dedicated sales tax to increase funding for roads and bridges. In effect, the proposal would take $279 million in tax revenue from the general fund -- money that would otherwise be used for schools and health care -- and make it available for roads and bridge construction only. In essence, this would be a shift of funds away from education at a time when every dollar is sorely needed.

Tell your legislator MSBA has had a long-standing policy position which, "Urges the Legislature to oppose any constitutional amendment that dedicates a specific purpose that would otherwise be available to K-12 funding."

House members are still waiting to see the pensions bill on the floor for a vote. The bill already received unanimous support from the Senate.
Urge your House Representatives to pass the pension bill. 

Other Legislative News
Sexual Harassment
The House is expected to pass a bill expanding the definition of sexual harassment with bipartisan support. More than half of the members agree with the author, Rep. Joyce Peppin, to expand the language to include, "does not require the harassing conduct or communication to be severe or pervasive."

Early Childhood Education  
The Office of the Legislative Auditor Early Childhood Education Evaluation Report was released last week.
James Nobles, legislative auditor, told legislators,  "Minnesota's key early childhood programs are complex and fragmented, and their statewide effectiveness is unknown." Another key finding was state law prioritizes all students ready for kindergarten, one of the World's Best Workforce goals, but doesn't measure whether children statewide are ready for school.

Government Operations
MSBA partnered with League of Minnesota Cities to increase the direct bidding and publication thresholds under the uniform municipal contracting law. The bill passed unanimously and Governor Dayton signed the expansion of $175,000 into law.

The Senate Supplemental Jobs Finance Bill passed off the Senate Floor last Thursday. The bill includes $15 million for the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program. A sum of $750,000 will be carved out for satellite providers.
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