Monday, April 27, 2015

Weekend Update.  The House passed their version of the omnibus education funding bill on Saturday afternoon.  The debate/amendment process took about four hours, but it was remarkably uneventful.  Changes in House rules over the years have made it extremely difficult to add money to bills on the House floor, which really takes a lot of steam out of the opposition.  Given the House target is so small, I halfway expected a little bump coming from money left on the bottom line in the budget resolution, but that wouldn't have meant a whole lot one way or the other so the majority decided top simply ride it out.  Two somewhat controversial amendments were offered.  One would have allowed school to start prior to Labor Day in any year when Labor Day fell on September 6 or September 7, but that was defeated on a voice vote.  The other amendment--which passed--limits restrooms, locker rooms, and changing rooms to students' birth sex, somewhat changing the policy passed by the Minnesota State High School League last winter.  There was also an amendment that changes policy on the MTLE to allow teaching candidates who have neither passed the MTLE or reached the requisite ACT or SAT score to remain as teachers if they were evaluated as an effective teacher in each of the three years they have been teaching.

After the amending was done, there were a few fiery speeches that changed no one's mind and the bill was passed on a vote of 69-61.  No DFLers voted for the bill and not Republicans voted against it.

Next up, it will be the Senate on Wednesday, where they will pass their bill.  With rules being slightly different and with a bit more money to play with (and the money spread through a few more programs), the amendment process may be a bit more exciting, but that's not a sure thing.  What has been happening more often this year--with the tax/spend battlelines being what they are--the minority caucuses in both houses appear to be employing a macro-strategy that stays at the 30,000 foot level and works the press and the blogosphere.  It's all about battling worldviews (or in this case "stateviews") that will clash in the 2016 election.  Until then, it will likely be a streamlined process until conference committee, where I expect the machinery to get gummed up a bit and the gears will likely be sticking across all of the major tax and spending bills.

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