Bill Introductions. Last year I entered most every education-related bill onto the blog, but with the rush of bills that has been introduced this year (with many of them not likely to receive serious consideration), I've had to pare things back a little bit. I will start today by pointing out bills that address some of the issues in SEE's 2016 legislative platform and throughout the week I will be reporting on bills heard in the education-related committees. It appears they will be trying to hear as many bills as possible, but given the likelihood that the spending target for E-12 education isn't going to be too large, it is difficult to see how a lot of bills will be part of the final package.
Here are two sets of bills that are high on SEE's radar this session. The first is the debt service equalization bill that lowers the eligibility threshold to 10% and raises the equalizing factor to 100% of the state average ANTC. Both the House and Senate files were introduced today and issued bill numbers. The House file is HF 2982 and the Senate file is SF 2712. The chief authors are Representative Duane Quam (R-Byron) in the House and Senator Susan Kent (DFL-Woodbury) in the Senate.
Here is the link to the bill language: SF 2714/HF 2982
Another equalization bill was introduced last Thursday. This bill increases both the second tier of referendum revenue and the equalizing factor for the second tier. The House file is HF 2714 and the Senate file is SF 2394. The chief authors are Representative Roz Peterson (R-Lakeville) and Senator Chuck Wiger (DFL-Maplewood).
Here is the link to the bill language: SF 2394/HF 2714
There are also bills dealing with providing non-QComp districts with money for Teacher Development and Evaluation. The first, SF 2556 (Pappas)/HF 2940 (Mariani), would provide Teacher Development and Evaluation revenue to districts that are not participating in the QComp. Here is the link to that bill: SF 2556/HF 2940
HF 2981 (Howe) would make certain that revenue for the QComp program would be sufficient to cover the costs associated with all school districts with an approved plan. There is no Senate companion at this point. Here is the link to that bill: HF 2981
One bill that will likely get a lot of attention this year is a repeal of the requirement relating to school board vacancies. Last year, a provision was passed that requires school boards to hold elections to fill vacancies instead of having the vacancy filled by school board appointment. That provision certainly adds to school district costs by forcing unnecessary elections. I was talking to a SEE member at a regional meeting this morning and they are being forced to hold an election for a vacancy in which only one candidate filed for the position. Hopefully, adjustments will be made to the law and school districts will not be forced to hold elections for a single vacancy and can instead fill vacancies with appointments that last until the next scheduled general election.
Here is the link to SF 2393 (Sieben)/HF 3123 (Howe): SF 2393/HF 3123
Education Minnesota Press Conference on Teacher Shortage. Education Minnesota held a press conference today outlining several initiatives that aim to alleviate the teacher shortage. SEE has a great interest in these efforts and hopes to work with Education Minnesota and other education organizations to develop initiatives that will help replenish the pool of teaching candidates, especially in the area of special education.
Here is a link to a study conducted by Education Minnesota that was released at a press conference today. Link: Smart Solutions to Minnesota’s Teacher Shortage: Developing and Sustaining a Diverse and Valued Educator Workforce
Martin Sabo. I try not to talk about the old days that much in my blog, but like many Minnesotans I was saddened by the passing of former state representative and member of the United States House of Representatives Martin Sabo. When I first started at the Legislature, then Speaker of the House Sabo was at the height of his influence in Minnesota politics. With an incomparable work ethic and an almost magical ability to store massive amounts of legislative details, Sabo ushered through an impressive amount of important legislation. Along with Governor Wendell Anderson and Senate Majority Leader Nick Coleman, Sabo formed an impressive triumvirate of Minnesota politicians. Like I have often said, there have been individual legislators and governors as impressive as each of these public officials, but I cannot think of a time during my 40-year career with a set of leaders this impressive. Truly heady and exciting times. So rest easy Speaker Sabo. The example of your leadership still inspires.