They’re back – and so are we! Update for Feb. 28, 2014

/ 28 February 2014 / eunice

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To know what’s being talked about over the coming months, make sure you have subscribed to our weekly updates. If you’d like to link to the action from past sessions, you can easily find 2013 updates and updates from all the past years we’ve been around!

This Week at the Capitol

The February forecast [pdf] out today has increased speculation that there will be a supplemental budget – meaning that committees may be able to fund bills coming forward this year.

Appropriately, the Senate E-12 Division began with early learning. Last year’s appropriation to early childhood provided scholarships for 9% of eligible children in Minnesota. The coalition MinneMinds is asking for a greater financial commitment from the state to make the scholarships available for many more children. Other bills newly introduced opt for state funding for universal programs for 4-year-olds that are voluntary for families. SF 1751, carried by the Chair of the committee, seeks an increase in funding for Early Childhood and Family Education (ECFE), a Minnesota stalwart for the past 40 years.

Funding for Minnesota Reading Corps, vision therapy pilots, Adult Basic Education and student transportation were requested. One bill that holds particular interest is SF 1765 (Senator Jensen-DFL-SD 24). The intent is to create private-public partnerships to provide students with information technology certifications.

All bills not passed out of committee were “laid over for possible inclusion in an omnibus bill.”

FYI, if a bill is not passed out of committee, referring it on to another, it has become the norm to “lay it over for possible inclusion in an omnibus bill.” This way, once all proposals are heard, legislators can select those they wish to include in a final omnibus bill [scroll down].

Both House and Senate education committees reviewed the Minnesota Department of Education’s work implementing legislation passed last year. It is compelling listening to the development of a statewide infrastructure and see very early signs of improved test scores and graduation rates. All agreed there is a long way to go, but the latest data shows a chipping away at our intractable gap.

Several legislators mentioned how schools in their respective legislative districts are reacting to the recently passed World’s Best Work Force legislation. Expect to hear much more about the implementation of this legislation in the months to come.

Important correction to last week’s update

In our last update, I wrote: “The overarching issue for the 2014 legislature is the November 2014 election. Every constitutional office, every state representative and every senator will stand for election. It can be argued that this is the session voters will remember and is therefore a last chance for elected officials to provide good talking points for door knocking campaigns.”

However, only constitutional offices and state representatives need to stand for election; senators will be up for re-election in 2016. Seriously, sometimes politics just addles my brain – so, so sorry for the confusion.

A Look Ahead

While the education chairs have indicated they will be holding hearings next week, the agendas are still “to be determined.” This changes quickly, so checking the committee schedules is a good way to know what’s “on deck.”

A way to find out what legislators are thinking is to peruse House and Senate bill introductions. This can get a bit wonky, and to make it less difficult we pulled out just those bills currently referred to education committees. This list grows every day the legislature is in session. Committee chairs select bills they will hear in committee, so the vast majority of “bill introductions” may never make it to committee rooms.

Bookmarks for You!

Both House and Senate have several committees that deal with education. Our updates will refer to legislation considered in these committees. You may wish to bookmark them or subscribe to the committee to receive meeting information delivered to your email inbox!

To see what bills are scheduled to be heard on any given day, just link to the committee home page. Each bill to be heard will be hyperlinked and easily accessible. If you ever have a question as to the implication of a bill, please call me, 651-214-6565.

Reminder: don’t ever come to the Capitol without first checking to see if the committee is actually meeting and if the bill you are interested in has been removed from the agenda! All this information can be quickly found on the Minnesota State Legislature front page calendar.

What is Parents United’s agenda?

Our agenda is 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**

1667 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul, MN 55108