Wednesday, January 25, 2012

No Hearings Today. The Legislature took the day off, taking a field trip over to the University of Minnesota to attend their annual joint conference, but that doesn't mean it was necessarily a slow news day. The Wilfs met with the Governor to discuss the proposal to build a new Vikings' stadium on the Metrodome site. There was a call for increased inspection of slot machines and blackjack games at Minnesota's native American casinos. And Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann announced that she will be seeking another term. Not that any of this has much to do with the education debate taking place in Minnesota, but it does show that the pace will be heady throughout the session.

If you were to back me into a corner and make me guess when the session will be over, I would say by Easter, which falls in the first week of April this year. Much will depend on the February budget forecast, but if projections stay within the normal range, there will be little appetite to do anything much with "found" money except perhaps provide some property tax relief. Further, the new legislative district maps will be released on February 21 and a number of legislators will probably want to scope out their new district boundaries as soon as they are announced. So, at least in my estimation, there will be an up-or-down vote on a stadium proposal, some wrangling over policy that will likely result in some high-profile vetoes, and a mass exit in early April.

As Colin Quinn used to say when he hosted Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live, "That's my story and I'm sticking to it."

Mindy Greiling Not Seeking Re-election. It was a bit of a surprise when Representative Mindy Greiling (DFL-Roseville) announced that she won't be seeking re-election this November. Representative Greiling chaired the House Education Funding Division for four years and was truly an education leader. Her insight and energy on education issues will be missed.

Greiling is the second prominent education leader in the Legislature to announce their intention not to seek re-election. Senator Gen Olson (R-Minnetrista), the current chair of the Senate Education Committee, announced last year that she will not be seeking another term. With the loss of these two legislators, Minnesota's education community will be missing two very strong voices.

Congratulations! I wanted to get this in the blog while it was still fresh news. Congratulations to Kala Henkensiefken, the transportation director for Brainerd Area Schools, for being named the Minnesota Association for Pupil Transportation's Director of the Year. Kala does a tremendous job for the Brainerd district and is also a leader in the school transportation industry, chairing MAPT's special education transportation committee and helping organize the annual Train the Trainer workshop. She is certainly deserving of this award.

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