May 2, 2008

May 2, 2008

Update for April 28-May 2, 2008
— From Mary Cecconi, Executive Director



Check out “Vanishing Graduates
and Minnesota’s Future” on
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News and Events page
               

Monday, May 19 2008
The Legislature is set to adjourn

“The world is run by those who show up.”


In This Issue

At the Capitol
Next Week at the Capitol
What Can I Do?

 

What is happening at the Capitol?

After being in a “wait and see” mode for almost a month, we are now in “hurry up and wait,” and soon will be in the “race to the finish line.”

The K12 education policy bill passed off the House floor earlier this week and there were 36 attempted amendments. Fully one-third of them seemed to come out of nowhere. There had not been bills nor hearings on many of these issues, just amendments added on the floor. This makes for a very disparate bill. Trying to reconcile the House and Senate bills will be a challenge.

Add to that a deadline imposed on the committee to finish their work by midnight on Monday, May 5. The conferees first met on Wednesday (4/31) where they accepted 29 “same and/or similar” provisions. There are some significant differences in the two bills and if you are interested in seeing a “side-by-side” comparison, one can be found here; the bill number is SF 3001.

It was the stated intention of the conference committee to meet again on Thursday and finish the work on Monday, May 5. However (and here is a civics lesson) the gavel trades hands between the House and the Senate after each meeting. Simply put, the one who holds the gavel chairs the meeting. Once the conference committee has met, the gavel is handed over to the other body. Holding the gavel gives one the power to either convene the conference committee or wait. The chair may choose not to meet unless significant issues have been agreed upon and s/he feels comfortable that meeting will produce sufficient movement towards a reconciled bill.

At this point we are waiting on the “call of the chair.” Right now Chair Mariani, from the House, holds the gavel and when he chooses to convene the conference committee, they will meet. Stay tuned.

The named conferees for education policy from the Senate are:

Sen. Chuck Wiger (DFL-North St. Paul-Oakdale), Sen. Sandy Rummel (DFL-White Bear Lake), Sen. Kathy Saltzman (DFL-Woodbury), Sen. Kevin Dahle (DFL-Northfield), and Sen. Gen Olson (R-Minnetrista); and from the House: Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL-St. Paul), Rep. Linda Slocum (DFL- Richfield), Rep. Kathy Brynaert (DFL-Mankato), Rep. John Ward (DFL-Brainerd), and Rep. Dean Urdahl (R-Grove City).

In this issue

 

A Look Ahead at the Week of May 5

Committee meetings and bills scheduled to be heard change frequently! Be sure to check the daily schedule of hearings and agendas.

If the deadline is reached, the conference policy bill (SF 3001) will go back on the floor for acceptance in both bodies. Monday promises to be a very long day. Just a point of reference: if a bill goes through the conference committee process, it cannot be amended once it comes back on the floor–it is a straight up or down vote–so what happens in conference committee generally stays in the bill. (I say “generally” because although it is highly unusual, stranger things have happened!) So this is a hugely important part of the process. (The Governor, however, does have veto authority.)

In this issue

 

What Can I Do?

The old joke is that the two things you never want to see made are sausages and laws, but someone needs to do it! If you have a particular provision that you want to see in law, those who sit on the conference committee are the ones to contact (see email links above).

As far as the funding piece for schools, the $51 per student is still in the supplemental budget bill — but I wouldn’t spend it just yet. This is a time when legislators are in floor session for hours at a time and reading their emails is something they do quite frequently. Now is a good time to send a supportive email to your local legislator asking their support for keeping the school funding piece in the bill. [Need contact information for your legislators? Find it here.]

In this issue


“That the public understands that funding is the greatest problem facing the schools will have no practical significance unless we can find ways to translate this sentiment into better funding for schools. The day is gone when school people could concentrate on operating schools and leave others to take care of funding. School leaders, teachers, and parents have no choice but to become lobbyists for their schools. They are the best advocates for public schooling.”            —from 39th Annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll


Questions? Email Mary Cecconi

Parents United for Public Schools
1667 Snelling Avenue N., St. Paul, MN 55108
651-999-7391
www.parentsunited.org