Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Surprisingly Slow Tuesday.  One of the interesting things about this time of the session is that you can head over to the Capitol expected action and finding out there isn't going to be much of anything happening.  The House and Senate both had floor sessions to move a few bills, but other than that it was a quiet day.

Congratulations to Deb Henton.  North Branch superintendent and SEE Executive Board member Deb Henton was confirmed as the superintendent designee on the Minnesota Board of School Administrators at today's Senate Education hearing.  The hearing was largely devoted to the confirmation of gubernatorial appointments to a number of boards.  The latter part of the hearing was devoted to a report from Bloomington Executive Director of Research, Evaluation, and Assessment David Heistad on strategies the Bloomington School District is using to enhance achievement for its non-English speaking students.  The report was long on statistics and the statistics bear out some very positive trends for the district as they seek to close the achievement gap between its students for whom English is not their native language and those for whom it is.

Thursday Promises to be Hoppin'.  Of course, that's what I thought about today.  But at this point it appears that HF 826--the anti-bullying bill--will be on the Senate floor and HF 2180--the Health Insurance Transparency Act (HITA) sponsored by Education Minnesota--will be on the House floor.  The authors of the anti-bullying legislation--Senator Scott Dibble and Representative Jim Davnie--have made a number of significant changes to the bill, but there is still considerable opposition to the bill.  Whatever your opinion of the bill, time is short to make your opinion known.

Here is a link to the current bill language.  It is important to note that the definition of bullying has been tightened up, the reporting requirements have been eliminated, and the proposed penalties that could be levied against districts have also been removed from the bill.

Link:  https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=HF826&version=4&session=ls88&session_year=2013&session_number=0&type=ue

In conversations with the authors, the plan is for the House to accept the Senate amendments to the bill that have been worked out on the Senate side largely through the work of Senator Greg Clausen and chief author Senator Scott Dibble.  Intentions may change if further amendments not supporting by the chief author are attached to the bill, but the plan is for the House to re-pass the bill with the Senate amendments, avoiding a conference committee and sending the bill directly to the Governor for his expected signature.

HF 2180 is, as stated above, the bill developed by Education Minnesota to bring greater transparency to health insurance bidding process at the district level by requiring multiple sealed bids.  This bill certainly doesn't hit the level of intrusion into the health insurance procurement process that previous bills sponsored by Education Minnesota, but it still requires a lot of what could be considered busy work by school districts.  Again, contact your legislators with your concerns.

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