Thursday, March 12, 2015

Another Long Day.  The LIFO Express stopped in the Senate Education Committee this morning with discussion of Senator Terry Bonoff's SF 97 and Senator Eric Pratt's HF 2 (the House File has passed the full House and has thus been substituted for Senator Pratt's Senate companion SF 473).  HF 2 is the more comprehensive bill, as it contains provisions that deal with teacher licensure, the use of community experts in the classroom, and the status of teachers licensed in other states in addition to changes made to teacher tenure provisions as they relate to teacher layoffs.  SF 97 concentrates almost solely on how unrequested leave of absence decisions will be made by school districts and how teacher performance will figure into those decisions.  Given statements by Senate leadership, it's doubtful that these bills will go any further than they have in that body.  That doesn't mean that changes in teacher tenure are dead for the session, as the contents of HF 2 may well find their way into the House omnibus education funding bill and would be part of the negotiations that will develop the final funding and policy package relating to education during the 2015 session.

The House Education Innovation Policy Committee met for four hours (two hours in the morning, two hours in the evening) and covered a variety of topics.  The Governor's omnibus education policy bill absorbed most of the time during the morning session, with the evening session dedicated to a number of bills, most notably Representative Ron Kresha's bill that would provide a tax credit for contributions to foundations that provide early learning opportunities (HF 1368) and Representative Anna Wills' HF 964, a bill that aims to reduce special education paperwork.

Link:  HF 1368

Link:  HF 964

The House Education Finance Committee covered five bills, some of which will likely find their way into the House omnibus education funding bill.  To me, the highlight was HF 733, a bill authored by Representative John Petersburg that would correct an error in the ballot language passed by the Owatonna school district in the fall of 2013 (the same year the Local Optional Revenue took effect).  The Minnesota Department of Education approved the language prior to the election, but then changed their interpretation, leaving the district with confused taxpayers and the prospect of not being able to collect their entire referendum.  Owatonna Superintendent Peter Grant and Director of Operations Tom Sager have set a land speed record in getting this bill approved by two committees.  I think they've spent less than ten minutes total at the witness stand.  I might need these guys at some point to push SEE's platform through.

Thursday Bill Introductions.


SF 1668--Chamberlain--Authorizes reverse referendum for school-board approved revenue authority under certain circumstances and prohibits public school employees from using public funds to advocate, pass, elect, or defeat a political candidate--

SF 1697--B. Petersen--Empowers authorizers to terminate contracts based on student performance--


HF 1787--Newton--Changes announcement policy for location of defibrillators--

HF 1800--Backer--Authorizes a grant to expand robotics programs in schools in greater Minnesota--

HF 1806--Hancock--Appropriates money for construction and renovation of school facilities in Red Lake School District--

HF 1818--Baker--Increases funding for community education youth after-school enrichment program--

HF 1839--Wills--Confirming how statewide testing requirements apply to nonpublic and home school students and out-of-state students transferring into Minnesota public schools--

HF 1849--Selcer--Increases general education basic formula allowance by 2.5% each year of the biennium--

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