Thursday, January 08, 2015

First Hearing.  The Senate Education Finance/Education Policy Committee held its first meeting of the 2015 session on Thursday morning.  The slash between the committees in the first sentence requires some explanation.  The Senate combined the separate finance-related and policy-related committees into one body with a slightly higher membership than each previous committee had.  This should make the development of policy and tying of policy to finance a more streamlined process, which is generally a good thing.  The challenge will be to make certain there is enough time to cover both the policy and finance questions that will come before the committee.  I'm guessing there will be a lot of long meetings at some juncture during the session.

Today's hearing featured brief testimony from approximately 30 education interests (mostly the usual suspects), including me representing SEE.  The instruction from the Chair Wiger was to summarize each organization's priorities within two minutes.  Some folks (not many) completed their testimony within the two-minute framework.  Some others made it in under three minutes.  And some others didn't pay much attention to the chair's directive.  The testimony was all relevant and points toward an interesting legislative session.  There were some common themes that emerged from the testifiers: (1) a healthy increase on the general education basic formula, (2) consideration of the the recommendations of the Facilities Finance Working Group, (3) on-going revenue for teacher evaluation, (4) revenue for universal early childhood education, and (5) no new mandates.

It will be interesting to see how the session unfolds in the Senate and today's hearing is evidence that a wide range of viewpoints will be heard.

Initial Set of Introductions in the House and Senate.  The House won the first day tally, beating the Senate by a score of 60-55 on the total number of bills introduced, but the Senate edged the House 7-5 in the number of E-12-related bills.  Here are the introductions from the first day with a link to the bills.


SF 6 (Hoffman) -- Providing funding for universal all-da preschool for four-year-old students --

SF 17 (Wiger) -- Appropriating additional revenue for telecommunications access --

SF 18 (Wiger) -- Establishing special technology revenue category for school districts, charter schools, intermediate districts, and other cooperative units --

SF 20 (Wiger) -- Reserving future increases in the school endowment fund apportionments for school technology --

SF 21 (Wiger) -- Reserving future increases in the school endowment fund apportionments for early childhood education --

SF 30 (Petersen) -- Changes in teacher licensure and unrequested leave of absence procedure (elimination of last in/first out) --

The Senate also has a couple of other interesting bills that have some relation to E-12 education but won't be starting in the Education Finance/Education Policy Committee.  The first is SF 2, a bill authored by Senator LeRoy Stumpf (DFL-Thief River Falls) that would provide free tuition for students attending technical or community college run by MnSCU.  The other bill is SF 5, a bill authored by Senator Terry Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka), that seeks to help employers match their needs with the training provided to prospective employees.  Below are the links:

SF 2 (Stumpf) -- Providing tuition assistance for Minnesota high school graduates to attend MnSCU colleges --

SF 5 (Bonoff) -- Requiring a the commissioner of labor and industry to identify competency standards for dual training and creating a dual training competency grant program --


HF 2 (Loon) -- Clarifying conditions for teacher licensure, amending alternative teacher licensure, elimination of last in/first out --

HF 15 (Mariani) -- Increasing the compulsory attendance age to 18 --  Companion to SF 19.

HF 34 (Anzelc) -- Appropriating money to renovate a building in the Deer River ISD #317 --

HF 40 (Persell) -- Providing full funding for K-12 pupil transportation -- 

HF 46 (E. Murphy) -- Providing funding for universal all-da preschool for four-year-old students --  Companion to SF 6.

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