Thursday, May 15, 2008

Wheels in the Sky Keep on Turning. You guessed it. That's Journey (with vocals by Steve Perry). The wheels in the sky may be turning, but the wheels of government continue to turn very slowly beneath the Capitol dome. Budget negotiations remain at, if not a standstill, a pace that can be timed with a sundial. There was little, or no, movement during the discussions yesterday, which is disappointing, because there were no floor proceedings either in the House of Senate to distract negotiators. I will keep you posted as to the progress of these important negotiations.

What's Playing Now. HF 1875, the newly-minted mandatory statewide teacher health insurance pool. There will be a number of amendments offered to the bill, including one offered by Senator Terry Bonoff (D-Minnetonka) to allow an district option to not participate and one by Senator Kathy Saltzman (D-Woodbury) to further study the possibility of districts having trouble getting health insurance access to the State Employees Group Insurance Program (SEGIP).

I'll keep you posted.

Update: HF 1875--the mandatory statewide school employee insurance pool legislation--just passed the Senate on a vote of 41-25. Amendments offered by Senator Terry Bonoff (D-Minnetonka) to allow districts to opt out of the pool and Senator Kathy Saltzman (D-Woodbury) to require study of the possible use of the SEGIP program were defeated on votes of 27-37 and 29-36 respectively. The bill may be hitting the House floor this evening, where it will likely be passed. Because it is a House File being returned to the House, a motion will likely be made to not concur in the Senate amendment (the mandatory statewide school employee insurance pool language) and send the bill to conference committee. I do not foresee that motion being successful. Instead, I will venture a guess that the amendments will be accepted by the House, the bill will be passed, and then sent to the Governor. I am currently searching my data base for the letter I sent to the Governor after last session urging him to veto last year's edition of this legislation. If you are so moved, be prepared to pick up the phone or turn on the computer to contact the Governor urging his veto.

Health Insurance Update. HF 1875 just passed the mandatory statewide school employee health insurance pool on a vote of 70-57. A motion to not concur with the Senate amendments and send the bill to conference committee failed on a vote of 55-71. The bill now heads to the Governor, where its fate is uncertain. The Governor vetoed last year's bill, but part of the objection to that bill was that the pool was self-insured. That is no longer the case.

We will be getting an alert out tomorrow, urging you to contact the Governor's office and requesting that he veto the bill. I won't go through the talking points now, but if this bill garners the Governor's signature, it will not be a positive development for school districts throughout the state.

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