Legislative Update

The following information was shared with the library community via the MLA and ITEM Legislative Update Newsletter Wednesday, March 13, 2019 by Sam Walseth, Capitol Hill Associates, in his role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.


School Media Specialist bill advances in the House
Last Friday the House Education Policy committee reviewed HF 247, a bill to incentivize school districts to hire licensed school media specialists. The hearing was very positive and legislators themselves rely heavily on staff for research of legislative ideas so they seemed to understand the need and importance of having licensed school media specialists in school settings.
The bill was sent to the House Education Finance committee where it has already had an informational hearing. The House won’t unveil their omnibus education finance bill for several weeks, but now is a good time to share your support for HF 247 with your House members, especially if they serve on the House Education Finance committee.
The companion bill, SF 2010, has not been reviewed by the Senate E-12 budget committee.
Regional Funding Bill challenged in the Senate
Last week SF 1704 was reviewed by the Senate E-12 committee. Sen. Mark Johnson (R – East Grand Forks) did a great job presenting the bill. E-12 Chair, Carla Nelson (R – Rochester), challenged the testifiers about the need for new state aid for library systems because state law requires counties to maintain their local effort for library funding.
A subsequent message to Chair Nelson clarified that the MOE statute was amended in 2011. Counties were able to secure a permanent change to MOE statutes as they relate to public libraries. Since 2011 a city or county need only provide its library 90% of the funding that it provided in 2011.
Hennepin County Library Director Credential Change
Hennepin County is seeking a change to a specific statutory requirement for the Hennepin County Library Director. HF 2097 (Rep. Mike Freiberg, DFL – Golden Valley) was introduced last Thursday and was already reviewed by the House Government Operations committee, which Rep. Freiberg chairs. The bill was passed out of the committee and referred back to the House floor. The committee report was adopted today and the bill was given its Second Reading. That means it rests on the House General Register and in order to be viable as a stand-alone bill the Senate will need to pass the companion (SF 2267) by second deadline which is Friday, March 29th.
SF 2267 is in Senate Local Government, which is chaired by Sen. Dan Hall (R – Dakota County) who also happens to be the chief author of the bill. This committee meets Tuesday mornings at 8:30am so it will be heard either Tuesday the 19th or Tuesday the 26th.
Library Legacy
Our library legacy bill has been introduced in both bodies and is HF 1973 (Mary Murphy) and SF 2210 (Jeff Howe).
Governor’s Bonding bill
Governor Walz’s Bonding bill recommends $1.5M for Library construction and renovation grants. Historically, the administration requests $2 million for this program. The final bonding bill last session provided $1.5 million for funding to this program. MLA routinely requests $10 million in funding for the program.

Bill Tracking “My Bills” Feature
You can use a feature called “My Bills’ to track House and Senate bills by bill number and topic. When you log in, your bills will be listed along with information about recent or upcoming significant action. You must log in to see this information; MyBills does not send email alerts. Library community members have reported that this feature has a lag on updates–it isn’t a “breaking news” source.

MLA/ITEM are the primary activists for these bills: 

Increase Basic Funding for Regional Library Systems 
      Regional Library Basic System Support (RLBSS)
Increased funding from $13.57 million to $17.57 million annually with a corresponding formula change to provide stable funding for all regional public library systems across the state. The bills include language authorizing expanded uses of RLTA funding. Hearings have been held for both bills and motions were made to consider them for possible inclusion in the omnibus bill.  

HF 247
Create Grant Pool for Library Media Specialists 
MLA and ITEM support funding a grant pool to enable school districts to increase access to licensed library media specialists in districts that face a shortage of licensed media staff. It was heard in the house committee. At this time there is no companion Senate bill.

SF 2210/HF1973
Legacy funding for regional public library systems for arts and cultural heritage programming.  $2.5 million for each year of the biennium. This is the same amount as was appropriated in the last budget cycle.

There are other issues MLA/ITEM supports. Other organizations or groups are the primary activists. In some cases, library advocates are members of these other groups. An example is broadband, where librarians serve as members of task forces and advocacy groups.

Some of the bills that are relevant to the library community:

SF0081/HF835 Minnesota Reads task force creation

SF0209/HF555 ISP adherence to net neutrality

SF1428/HF907 After-school community learning programs appropriation

HF2097/ SF2267 HCL library director requirements

Various broadband bills.