Monday, April 02, 2012

High-Flying Monday. Education bills flying here, there, and everywhere today, as the House and Senate both passed the conference committee report on HF 2083, the bill that would use $416 million of the budget reserve to set the education aids payment shift at 70%/30%. That would be a positive adjustment for school districts of approximately six percentage points from where the education aids payment shift was set as a result of the projected revenue increase in the February budget forecast. The bill passed the House on a vote of 75-56, with three DFLers joining all the Republicans to pass the bill. The vote in the Senate was a straight party-line vote of 35-28.

The House also passed its version of the omnibus education policy/technical provisions bill--HF 2949--on a vote of 78-54, as six DFLers crossed party lines to join the Republican majority in passing the bill. HF 2949 is a much thinner omnibus education policy bill than is traditionally passed, consisting of only 20 sections, most of which are technical in nature. There are a couple of troublesome sections, most notably the one that would reduce aid attributable to students who graduate early from school district budgets. While larger districts may (and let me stress may) be able to absorb this revenue reduction, it will cause a crimp in small districts. Changes to the PSEO program to allow 10th graders to participate and the establishment of a task force to make recommendations to better integrate career and technical education programs into the high school are also part of the bill.

The Senate passed its version of the education policy/technical provisions bill--SF 2482--out of the Senate Finance Committee this morning. The bill contains many of the same provisions as HF 2949, but also contains the text of SF 2201, Senator Gen Olson's (R-Minnetrista) bill that would promote and strengthen individualized education programs.

With SF 2482 now on the Senate floor, it will meet up with HF 2949. At that point, the Senate bill language will be inserted into the HF jacket. In other words, it's the Senate "candy bar" in the House "wrapper." The Senate will pass its version (including any amendments that may be added on the Senate floor) and send it back to the House, where the House chief author will move to accept or reject the Senate version of the bill. If rejected, the bill will go to conference committee. If accepted, the bill receives its final vote and is forwarded to the Governor for signature or veto. If there is a time crunch, the Senate and House authors sometimes agree to the content of the bill prior to the bill being returned to its house of origin, negating the need for a conference committee but having an agreement.

Governor Signs Prone Restraint Extension. Governor Dayton signed the bill allowing an extension of the use of prone restraint in special educational settings in emergency circumstances today. The bill passed both the House and the Senate overwhelmingly (65-0 on original passage, 61-0 on repassage) in the Senate and 116-16 in the House.

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