Legislative Update

The following information was shared with the library community via the MLA and ITEM Legislative Update Newsletter Monday, March 19, 2018 by Sam Walseth, Capitol Hill Associates, in his role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

Governor’s State of the State Address
Wednesday night (March 14) Governor Dayton delivered his final state of the state address. He reflected on his two terms in office and thanked Minnesotans for their support in giving him the opportunity to serve two terms. He noted several statistics about where the state was financially when he arrived and where the state is today. In terms of education funding he said Minnesota had fallen into the bottom half of states for funding when he arrived and is now ranked 18th.

He touted the advancements in early childhood education funding and said 80,000 kids today are participating in all day kindergarten and PreK programs because of the investments he pushed for. He talked about the value of our workforce in the eyes of the business community and noted a statistic that says Minnesota is the third best state for business.

He talked about fiscal stability for the state budget and urged legislators to not dedicate auto part sales tax revenues for transportation as that would siphon off over $1.3 billion from the general fund in the next four years.

Dayton wants to allow Minnesota’s to buy into MNCare for health insurance coverage. He said Minnesota’s uninsured rate has risen from just over 4% in 2015 to just over 6% today. He talked about gun violence and the need to listen to the children begging for safety measures.

On the issue of conforming Minnesota’s tax code to the new federal law, he said corporations received enough help and Minnesota needs to focus on tax fairness for families. Lastly, he said our future workforce will come from people outside of Minnesota and while that’s hard for some to grasp, it’s a fact of life and we need to be more welcoming of new people to our state.

He indicated that we should expect details of his supplemental budget proposal by Friday. Legislative committees are planning to review aspects of his plan in their respective committees next week.

Governor’s Supplemental Budget
Last Friday (March 16) Governor Dayton released a supplemental budget plan that would leave his mark on the state’s budget for years to come. In the big picture, Governor Dayton wants to revisit several tax provisions he opposed last year yet signed into law. Namely, last year’s repeal of the automatic inflators on the statewide business levy and the inflators on tobacco taxes are targets in his supplemental budget plan. On spending, he would spend $227 million of the $329M surplus projected for the current biennium, raise another $20 million in tax revenue and keep $123 million on the bottom line for the budget reserve/cash flow account.

In the next biennium, his supplemental budget proposal would increase state revenue by $580 million and would spend $555 million. E-12 programs are a major recipient of the new spending he’s proposing. Making permanent the newly enacted School Readiness Plus early learning program is a top priority for the Governor and Commissioner Cassellius. The Governor includes a bump in special education funding and of course his previously announced school safety plan is also included. The Governor’s plan also includes state funding to pay for the omnibus pension bill that is starting to work its way through the process.

There’s a small change in the E-12 budget that is of direct interest to library services. The Governor’s supplemental budget plan calls for capturing and repurposing unspent Regional Library Telecommunication Aid (RLTA) funds. The MDE estimates that $350,000 each biennium will go unspent from the current $1.2 million annual appropriation. The plan calls for shifting these dollars into the school Telecommunications Equity Aid (TEA) program. We’re working to learn more about this situation.

On the whole, the Governor’s plan will meet resistance from the GOP majorities in the legislature. Dayton’s position that Minnesota should detach from the federal tax code is in direct opposition to GOP efforts to conform Minnesota’s tax code to the recent federal tax bill. This sets up for gridlock as we head deeper into the 2018 session. Details of his plan will emerge this week as committees dig into his plan.

To see agency detail of the Governor’s supplemental plan go here:
https://mn.gov/mmb/budget/currentbud/gov18-19/
https://mn.gov/mmb/assets/18-19-supplemental-budget-agency-item_tcm1059-330545.pdf

Hearing on HF 1484–Bonding
Thursday afternoon the House Education Finance committee reviewed HF 1484
that appropriates $10 million for the library construction and renovation
grant program.

Chief author Rep. Jeff Howe (R- Rockville) introduced the bill and gave a
brief history of the program and how it’s structured. He thanked Rep. Mary
Murphy for her longtime support of libraries and then asked his two
testifiers from Kimball, MN to talk about their local effort to build a new
library.

Kimball Mayor Tammy Konz and Margaret Arnold, a library friend and leader of
the Kimball library building task force, shared the vision and effort
they’re undertaking to build a new library. Their presentation was well
received and several committee members referenced library projects that had
been funded in their communities through this grant pool.

Library construction and renovation grants would be funded through the
bonding bill, so the Education Finance committee’s work today is just the
start. We likely won’t see a formal version of the omnibus bonding bill
emerge until very late in session.

February Budget Forecast

The following information was shared with the library community via the MLA and ITEM Legislative Update Newsletter Thursday, March 1, 2018 by Sam Walseth, Capitol Hill Associates, in his role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

On Wednesday, the state released an update to last December’s budget forecast. The good news is a previously projected $188 million deficit has turned into a $329 million surplus. Help from the federal government in the form of Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIPs) funding helped reduce state expenditures in the Health & Human Services budget area by $247 million. The federal tax bill is pushing up GDP numbers and corporate tax collections have increased. 
 
Still, the $329 million surplus figure represents less than 1% of the total state $46 billion biennial budget. Governor Dayton and DFL lawmakers urged caution on additional spending and suggested that a bonding bill in the neighborhood of $1.5 billion is the more appropriate focus for this session. GOP lawmakers met the forecast numbers with skepticism, suggesting the GDP figures and tax collection assumptions are artificially low. The bottom line is today’s forecast, while positive in that we have a surplus, does put a damper of hopes for additional budget items this session. 
 
The few additional budget items that seem to have bi-partisan support at this time are fixing public employee pension programs and additional dollars for school safety features in the wake of recent school shootings. Here’s a link to additional budget forecast details: https://mn.gov/mmb/forecast/forecast/

Legislative Update

The following information was shared via email with the library community Thursday, February 15, 2018 by Sam Walseth, Capitol Hill Associates, in his role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

Ann Walker Smalley & I met with Senator Ron Latz (D-St. Louis Park, SD46) to discuss his legislation on net neutrality. We offered the support of MLA+ITEM as the bill is introduced.  Sen Latz’s office supplied these Net Neutrality Talking Points.
 

There is still time to register for Library Legislative Day and make appointments to visit your legislators to discuss the MLA+ITEM Legislative Platform. Do it today!

Legislative Update Newsletter

There is a new newsletter for MLA & ITEM members to receive legislative updates from Sam Walseth of Capitol Hill Associates. Capitol Hill Associates is the lobbying firm representing MLA, ITEM, the multicounty multitype library systems, & the regional public library systems at the Minnesota Legislature.

In addition to the updates from Sam, the newsletter will offer announcements of events, advocacy tips, templates for phone messages/email, news about legislative activities including Legislative Day (March 6, 2018), Legislative Forum (August 8, 2018), and other news & information you can use in your advocacy efforts. It will include updates on national library issues, too.

The mailing schedule is intermittent–it depends on what is going on at the Legislature and how it affects libraries.

The 2018 Legislative session starts February 20, 2018, and updates from Capitol Hill Associates will be posted here as well. The Legislative Update newsletter is a benefit to members of MLA and ITEM.

Governor Releases $1.5 Billion Bonding Proposal

The following information was shared via email with the library community Tuesday, January 16, 2018 by Sam Walseth, Capitol Hill Associates, in his role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

Governor Dayton released his 2018 bonding bill today and it totals $1.5
billion in general obligations bonds and appropriation bonds. Minnesota
Management & Budget (MMB) Commissioner Myron Frans noted the proposal will
leverage an additional $570 million in federal, local and private funds
making the proposal a $2 billion investment in Minnesota’s capital
infrastructure.

The Governor accepted a request from the MN Department of Education (MDE)
to fund $2.5 million to for Library Construction and Renovation grants.
While this is a good place for us to start the 2018 session we face an
uphill battle to get a bonding bill passed and signed into law. Competition
for bonding dollars is always fierce. There were over $3.3 billion in
requests submitted to the Governor?s office ($2.5 billion from state
agencies and $831 million from local governments).

For more details on the Governor’s bonding proposal:

https://mn.gov/mmb/budget/capital-budget/current/

MLA Announces Contest to Create Minnesota “Because” Statements

Because The Minnesota Library Association (MLA) is seeking entries in a “Because” statement contest. Based on the American Library Association’s (ALA) Libraries Transform campaign, they’re designed to increase awareness of the value, impact, and services provided by libraries and library staff.

 

Because 5 out of 5 Doctors Agree Reading Aloud to Children Supports Brain Development
Because Today’s Gamer Could Be Tomorrow’s Inventor
Because 5 Million Students Can’t Access Broadband at Home

As we prepare to advocate for Minnesota libraries in the coming year, we’re proposing a Minnesota spin on the Libraries Transform initiative and would like to create several uniquely Minnesota “Because” statements. We’re seeking submissions from library supporters. These statements can be about the services and value you see in any type of library (public, academic, school, government, and others). Your submissions will be collected and used for virtual library legislative week in Minnesota, March 5-9th, 2018. One lucky winner will receive a large print of your Minnesota Libraries Transform Because statement.

How to Submit

  • Deadline to submit is Friday, February 2nd, 2018
  • On Twitter, use the hashtag #MnLibrariesTransform
    • Format example: Because audiobooks turn snowy commutes into adventures #mnlibrariesstransform
  • Submit online: https://goo.gl/forms/0mpPTQ5XtyyzbRYQ2

Need ideas? Take a look at the statements that ALA has created:
http://www.ilovelibraries.org/librariestransform

Net Neutrality Protections Eliminated in Draft FCC Order

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is voting on Net Neutrality on December 14. More information on Net Neutrality can be found on ALA’s District Dispatch, and an update published today has additional information on the proposed policy changes.

MLA’s Legislative Chair Jami Trenam, in a message to the Minnesota Library Legislative committee, said, “While the FCC is voting on the future of net neutrality on Dec. 14th, we can encourage Congress to put pressure on FCC commissioners.”

Please consider contacting 1st Congressional District Representative Tim Walz and Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken. If you prefer, you may use ALA’s email tool instead. Subscribe to the Legislative committee listserv here.

 

 

Session Closure

The following information was shared via email with the library community Tuesday, June 6, 2017 by Sam Walseth, Capitol Hill Associates, in his role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

While the Governor’s line-item veto of the legislature’s operating budget
means the people’s business isn’t quite finished, it is for our practical
purposes.

The final Bonding bill, signed into law, appropriates $2 million for library
construction and renovation projects.

The final Legacy bill, signed into law, appropriates $2.5 million for
library legacy programming for the next two years.

The final E-12 bill, signed into law, doesn’t appropriate new funding for
regional library programs.

If the courts decide against the legislature’s forthcoming lawsuit over the
line-item veto, it’s the Governor’s desire to revisit several items in the
Tax bill. Those items are related to commercial-industrial property taxes
paid to the state, tobacco taxes and changes to the estate tax. He’s also
indicated a desire to revisit the teacher licensure reform package passed in
the E-12 bill.

The 2018 session begins at noon on Tuesday, February 20th.

Samuel P. Walseth, Capitol Hill Associates

Special Session adjourns Sine Die

The following information was shared via email with the library community Friday, May 23, 2017 by Sam Walseth, Capitol Hill Associates, in his role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

Early this morning the Minnesota Legislature adjourned their Special Session
‘Sine Die’ having passed the seven bills in the global agreement with Gov.
Mark Dayton. The bills detailed a $46 million budget including $650 million
reduction in taxes, $483 million for education, $300 million for
transportation and nearly $1 billion in bonding for public works.

All of the bills now will go to the governor for his signature or veto.
While the governor signed the global agreement that kicked off the special
session, there were few details in that original document. As a result,
activists, union leaders and some high-ranking DFLers are urging him to veto
all or some of the agreement.

While general expectations are that Gov. Dayton will sign or veto the bills
by the middle to end of next week, he has 14 days to consider the bills
passed in the special session after they’re presented to him. The
legislature has three days to present the special session bills to the
Governor.

Bonding Bill

The bonding bill contains $2 million for library construction and renovation
grants. There are no earmarks for these funds so an open grant process will
ensue at the MN Department of Education.

Samuel P. Walseth, Capitol Hill Associates

E-12 Bill, Special Session Status and Bonding Bill

The following information was shared via email with the library community Wednesday evening, May 25, 2017 by Sam Walseth, Capitol Hill Associates, in his role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

 

After a rough start to the special session last night, the House did finally
get the E-12 bill passed by a vote of 79-54. The bill was taken up by the
Senate this afternoon. Unfortunately, the Senate was short a majority member
and so couldn’t take up votes on the budget bills. Instead, they adjourned
until noon on Thursday. The House followed suit. All of the bills are now
posted and everyone has had time to review them.

DFLers are furious with what’s been negotiated in some of these bills. The
unions were out in force at the Capitol today asking them to “shut it down”
and for the Governor to “veto everything.” There’s definitely something to
love and hate in this package of legislation. I think everything gets passed
by both bodies by Thursday night and weary crew of 201 legislators will
leave St. Paul.

Bonding Bill

The bonding bill spreadsheet has been released and it contains $2 million
for library construction grants!!

Here’s a link to the bonding bill spreadsheet; we’re on page 1, line 30:

http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/comm/docs/b8582b99-8e6d-4224-a9cd-525e82634
244.pdf

Samuel P. Walseth, Capitol Hill Associates