On hold…for global agreement – Update for April 25, 2014

Important Events Next Week

  • Monday morning, April 28, 9 am – 12th Annual Parent Leadership Summit
    From the Capitol to the Classroom: A 10-year Retrospective

  • Wednesday, April 30, 7 pm – Governor Dayton’s State of the State address

Special Education Workshop for Parents

On Saturday, May 10, there is a terrific event [pdf] for Minneapolis parents whose children have special needs; starting at 10 am at South High, it will be presented in English, Spanish, Hmong and Somali: “Learn about the special education process, preparing for the IEP meeting, and meet with a volunteer advocate to assess your child’s educational needs and develop and action plan to address those needs during the Education Consultation Clinic.”

This Week at the Capitol

A few months ago, leadership in each body determined the spending targets for the finance divisions; those targets are what committee chairs used to design the supplemental budget bills for their divisions. The education targets are quite different: The Senate is at $41 million, the House at $73 million and the Governor’s budget provided $3.5 million.

At this point in the process, it is usual to look for a global agreement between the Governor, the House and the Senate. It is difficult, really impossible, for HF3172 [pdf] to be reconciled in conference committee until members know what spending level will be accepted by leadership. Sources tell us that this agreement should be done by next week. Until that time, we wouldn’t expect much substantive action on it.

Remember: When factoring state spending, tax cuts must be considered spending, since cuts in taxes are dollars from state coffers that could have been used differently.

For a quick overview, check out Parents United’s side-by-side comparison summaries of the HF2397 Education Omnibus POLICY bill [pdf] and the Education FUNDING [pdf] provisions of the HF3172 Omnibus Supplemental APPROPRIATIONS bill.

For a deeper, more complete side-by-side comparison check out the terrific summary [pdf] our friends at Schools for Equity in Education put together. It’s seriously good to have smart friends – how many times I think that! The official side-by-sides (from the Revisor’s Office) are here.

To keep current, check our tally card. [pdf]

A few words about the conference committee process

The conference committee process is really very interesting, but does pose challenges for easy tracking. Meeting times are fluid – rather than meeting at a “time certain,” a conference committee will usually convene “at the call of the chair” or “30 minutes after the last body adjourns.”

This can leave the casual observer a bit in limbo. One can sign up with committee administrators to receive emails about meeting times, but often keeping tabs on floor sessions, keys in hand, ready to run is what is required!

As a first step for a conference committee, nonpartisan research staff create a side-by-side comparison of the two bills; these are crucial. An entire article in one body’s bill can be totally missing from the other and that becomes easily apparent in a side-by-side; this gives members a starting place.

The conference committee first “walks through” the bill and it is not unusual for “same and similars” to be accepted early on. These are provisions so alike that the language from one or the other bill would be acceptable.

Then the work begins. Often the committee will recess and each side will come back with an offer to present to the other. This can happen once, twice, all day, all night, for weeks at a time. Or you can wait for a conference committee to convene and when it does, each side makes an offer to the other that is accepted on the spot.

The most important thing to remember is that when the conference committee report is signed and returned to the respective floors for a vote, it cannot be amended. If called up, it must be given an up or down vote.

HF2392 Omnibus Education Policy Conference committee members
House appointed conferees: C. Mariani (DFL-St Paul; K. Brynaert (DFL-Mankato); B. Yarusso (DFL-Shoreview); M. Sawatzky (DFL-Willmar); Urdahl (R-Grove City)

Senate appointed conferees: Torres-Ray (DFL-MPLS); G. Clausen (DFL-Apple Valley); K. Dahl (DFL-Northfield); A. Johnson (DFL-Spring Lake Park); C. Nelson (R-Rochester)

HF 3172 Omnibus Supplemental Budget Bill Conference committee members
House: L. Carlson (DFL-Crystal); T. Huntley (DFL-Duluth); T. Mahoney (DFL-St Paul); J. Wagenius (DFL-MPLS); P. Marquart (DFL-Dilworth)

Senate: R. Cohen (DFL-St. Paul); D. Tomassoni (DFL-Chrisholm); T. Lourey (DFL-Kerrick); C. Wiger (DFL-North St. Paul); T. Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka)

Seeing the Capitol all over again…..

Walking through the tunnel between the State Office Building and the Capitol is a new experience each and every day! As the renovations proceed, so much is being unearthed. It is easy to envision how the original building was constructed. The building will be vacated during the 2016 legislative session so work can be completed. That should be a rough year to track! The Capitol is a beautiful building and seeing it refurbished is a joy to behold. If you have a bit of time, now is a great time to take a tour of our state capitol.

An interesting statistic from Joe Radinovich’s Facebook page

Take note of the name Joe Radinovich, an impressive freshman legislator from Crosby. Upon tracking legislation, DFL Rep. Radinovich found “that 21 of 23 bills signed into law this year have had bipartisan support. Last year it was 132 of 144. Together that means that just about 92% of the legislation over the session has had some Republican support.” I just want to say that this is not something we read in the press!

What to expect in the coming weeks

The session needs to end by May 19 and we still need to see a bonding bill. Parents United will be focusing on the two conference committees: HF3172 Omnibus Supplemental Appropriations and HF2397 Omnibus Education Policy, and will continue to keep you updated on the happenings.

Worth a second look

Most days on our website, Parents United provides links to our Daily News Picks! These are education articles that catch our eye. A few of those articles are worth a second look:

What is Parents United’s agenda? It’s simple: we don’t speak for parents, but work to provide credible, timely information about education policy and the law-making process so parents can speak for themselves. Truth be told, Parents United is a translator of complex terms and policy implications, as well as a navigator for a legislative process often oblique to the public.


Mary Cecconi, Executive Director
Parents United for Public Schools

mary@parentsunited.org
1667 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul, MN 55108
651-999-7391; www.parentsunited.org