Legislative Update

The following information was shared with the library community via the MLA and ITEM Legislative Update Newsletter Monday, June 11, 2018 by Sam Walseth, Capitol Hill Associates, in his role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

Pension Bill & PERA
There was interest at the Legislative First Wednesday Update meeting in the newly enacted Pension bill that affects PERA. Here is some information:

PERA Reforms
 
Many librarians work for local units of government and are a part of the Public Employee Retirement Association (PERA). As employers and employees you may have questions about the newly enacted Pension reform bill. 
 
The newly enacted pension bill does not include any increases in the rate of employer and employee contributions to the PERA General Plan, which is most likely the plan that would cover public library employees. There will be changes to the benefits, including the COLA for retirees, under the PERA General Plan. 
 
These changes are expected to improve the funded status of the PERA General Plan, which in turn will improve the financial picture regarding plan assets and liabilities as passed through and presented in employers’ (including municipalities’) financial statements (per GASB). That’s good news for financial reporting purposes and may help with debt ratings.
 
For further review of the Pension changes just enacted into law, take a look at the Legislative Commission on Pensions & Retirement summary:
 
https://www.commissions.leg.state.mn.us/lcpr/documents/omnibus/2018/Summary_of_S2620_1st_Engr.pdf
 

2018 Session Final Report

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

This week Governor Dayton ended all uncertainty over the last remaining bills on his desk. Of note, the Governor signed the omnibus Bonding bill (HF 4425) and the omnibus Pension bill (SF 2620) into law. The Bonding bill contains $1 million for library construction and renovation grants for public libraries. MLA-ITEM requested $10 million for library bonding over the current biennium and with the 2017 bonding bill ($2 million for libraries) and the 2018 bill ($1 million for libraries) we were able to secure a total of $3 million of the $10 million request. This may not sound like a win, but we typically see $2 million appropriated for libraries in any given Bonding bill. 
 
During the signing ceremony on the Pension bill Thursday morning (May 31), Governor Dayton noted twice that this would be the last bill he signs into law as Governor. 

 2018 On the Whole –

 2018 was slated for three months and legislative leaders and the Governor generally agreed on the scope of issues that needed to be addressed, including; a bonding bill, federal tax conformity, elder abuse, the opioid crisis, and fixing the MNLARS (the new vehicle license and registration system). The school shooting in Parkland, FL last February also turned everyone’s attention to school safety, which became a priority of both Governor Dayton and the legislature.
 
Despite agreement on the priority topics, the 2018 the session ended with Governor Dayton vetoing two major bills that encompassed many of the priority issues. The ground for the vetoes was sown a year ago when the relationship between the Governor and legislature was severely diminished in the wake of the 2017 tax bill, which Dayton felt he was forced to sign and his subsequent line-item veto of the legislature’s operating budget because of it. 
 
In previous sessions, the three leaders, Dayton, Speaker Daudt and Majority Leader Gazelka spent many hours together toward the end of session crafting the outlines of budget and tax deals. Tellingly this year, they met very little. Despite repeated veto warnings from Dayton, the legislature gambled that they had done enough with the Supplemental bill and the Tax conformity bill to address Dayton’s concerns and sent them to him on the last night of session.  
 
Three days later (May 23), following through with his promise, Governor Dayton vetoed the Legislature’s two significant bills; the omnibus Supplemental bill (SF 3656), and the Tax Conformity bill (HF 947). His reasons for the two vetoes run the gamut of policy items he didn’t like in the Supplemental bill, deeper tax cuts than he would allow in the Tax Conformity bill, not enough education funding, and perhaps a feeling that there was an overall lack of respect toward his administration and a sense that he needed to defend the role of the Governor in the legislative process. The blame game has begun and despite calls for a special session to take up scaled back versions of the two vetoed bills, Dayton has said he will not call a special session.

2018 Election Cycle

We now turn to the election season where the stakes are enormous. The DFL and GOP need to select a Gubernatorial candidate for November and will take the first official stab at doing so on June 2 at their respective party conventions. It’s possible that both parties will see candidates run through an August primary to gain the November ballot slot under their party’s banner. 
 
House Speaker Kurt Daudt is defending a 77-57 GOP majority. House DFLers are banking on a slate of new candidate recruitment and a potential national ‘blue wave’ for their attempt to retake a majority in the House. While not on the ballot until the 2020 election, the Senate Republican majority has taken an interesting twist. GOP Sen. Michelle Fischbach has taken the oath of office for Lieutenant Governor and there will be a special election (held on the general election date, Nov. 6) for her seat. The outcome of that special election could flip control of the Senate, which now stands at a 33-33 tie. While this special election will be expensive and hard fought, SD 13 (central MN) is traditionally very conservative (63% for Trump in 2016) and state Rep. Jeff Howe (R – Cold Spring) is running and is well positioned to hold the seat for the GOP.
 
In addition to the battles for Governor and control of the legislature all eight Congressional seats are on the ballot. We also have both of our U.S. Senate seats on the ballot this November due to the midterm resignation of Al Franken. All state constitutional officers, Attorney General, Secretary of State and State Auditor, are up for election as well. We’re told the ad-buys for the Twin Cities media market this fall have already been purchased and Minnesotans should brace for an unprecedented amount of political money and ads being dumped on them this fall. Hang on for a bumpy ride to the November 6 general election.
 

How Do Governor Dayton’s Vetoes Impact Libraries?

The following information was shared with the library community via the MLA and ITEM Legislative Update Newsletter Wednesday, May 23, 2018 by Sam Walseth, Capitol Hill Associates, in his role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist. 

There is a lot to report this week.

Dayton follows through with Veto threats
 
This morning Governor Dayton followed through with his promise to veto the Supplemental Budget bill and the Tax Conformity/One-time Education funding bill. He’s expected to sign the Bonding bill, which contains $1 million for library construction and renovation grants. 

What was lost in the 990 page now vetoed Supplemental bill for libraries?Language for RLTA that would allow the regional systems to re-purpose those funds for broadband expansion outside of the e-rate program is now vetoed. This means that regional libraries will either need to spend all of their fiscal year 2019 funds or any unspent funds will be cancelled back to the state’s general fund at the end of the biennium (June 30, 2019). $15 million for border-to-border broadband expansion funds is lost as well due to the veto. 
 
Expect the political blame-game to fire up this summer. There will be a constant stream of rumors about a one-day special session to pass a Tax Conformity package that Dayton and the four legislative caucus leaders can all sign off on. I’ll tell you about it when it happens, but don’t hold your breath. As for the other pieces of the Supplemental Budget bill re-emerging in any special session, don’t count on it. Most likely we’re done for 2018 and can get on with planning for the next big budget session in 2019.

2018 Legislative Session Closes

The following information was shared with the library community via the MLA and ITEM Legislative Update Newsletter Tuesday, May 22, 2018 by Sam Walseth, Capitol Hill Associates, in his role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

2018 Session closes, but it’s not over yet…

The last night of a legislative session is always a display of organized chaos and this year’s version didn’t disappoint. In fact, so much happened in the last two hours on Sunday night that we’re still sorting through what exactly happened. The next question is what will happen in the next two weeks. Under the parameters of the state’s constitution, Governor Dayton has 14 days to either sign, veto or ‘pocket veto’ the bills the legislature put on his desk this weekend. A ‘pocket veto’ would occur on a bill if the 14 day period expires and the Governor has not signed a bill into law. Without his signature, the bill is vetoed.

What’s at stake for libraries?

Bonding
A Bonding bill (HF 4425) emerged at the last minute and passed both bodies. The bill appropriates $825 million in general obligation bonds. Unfortunately, the bill only has $1 million for library construction and renovation grants. It became difficult to hang onto the $2 million in funds as negotiators added more projects to the omnibus bill, but didn’t increase the overall price tag of the bill. There are no earmarks for these dollars. The bill also contains $25 million in cash for school safety and security upgrades. Districts can apply to MDE for up to $500,000 in grants to help cover the costs of identified physical security needs. The Governor is likely to sign this bill, but could line-item veto individual projects.

Supplemental Budget Bill

A 990-page Supplemental budget bill (SF 3656) that contains policy provisions and funding changes across all of state government. It includes language on RLTA that would allow the regional systems to repurpose unspent RTLA funds for other broadband expansion purposes. The bill also contains $15 million for the Broadband Development fund. Governor Dayton said repeatedly over the week that he will veto the bill. However, we can expect a steady drum beat of interest groups to emerge, asking him to sign it because it contains particular provisions of interest to them. 
 

Tax Conformity

A Tax conformity and one-time emergency school aid bill (HF 947) was put together on Sunday and was sent to the Governor. The bill contains virtually the same tax conformity bill the Governor vetoed last week, but the legislature is hoping to sweeten the deal with the addition of $50 million in one-time money for schools. The bill also allows districts to apply to MDE to transfer Community Education reserves and repurpose any staff development funds encumbered under the 2% set-aside. The GOP is arguing this package creates an additional $225 million in available funding for schools to deal with any budget shortfalls this year. The Governor has said he will absolutely veto this bill. However, vetoing the Tax conformity package means a difficult tax filing season next year. Expect enormous pressure on the Governor to sign the bill.
 

Pension Reform

And last but not least, the Pension bill (SF 2620) passed. As expected, the Pension bill was held hostage until the very end and was the last bill passed by both bodies. The bill contains a major improvement to the Teachers Retirement Association (TRA) that has been in the works for several year. We expect Governor Dayton will sign this bill soon.

Session Update

The following information was shared with the library community via the MLA and ITEM Legislative Update Newsletter Thursday, May 17, 2018 by Sam Walseth, Capitol Hill Associates, in his role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

2018 Session Finals Week

Legislative leaders and Governor Dayton are still miles apart as we head into the final days of session. The legislature can only pass bills until midnight on Sunday. Governor Dayton vetoed the GOP Tax plan this morning as promised. The Supplemental budget bill is still sitting in a conference committee and it lacks many of the Governor’s priorities and includes loads of policy provisions his administration opposes. 
 

Bonding

The bonding bill is also in limbo as the Senate failed to pass their bonding bill Wednesday afternoon. Earlier this week, House Bonding Chair Dean Urdahl, was successful in getting his bonding bill passed by the House. The House bill contains $2 million for library construction and renovation grants. The Senate bill contained $1 million. It’s possible we’ll see a compromise emerge Sunday night on a bonding bill, but it’s tied up in the infamous end of session global negotiations. 

Supplemental Budget Bill

The Supplemental budget bill is the arena for several issues of interest to MLA-ITEM. Regional Library Telecommunications Aid (RLTA) has been a source of debate this session as the MDE proposed re-purposing potential unspent RLTA funds for school telecom needs. House Education Finance Chair Jenifer Loon sought to keep these funds within the sphere of the regional public library world and her position, which we asked for, has prevailed at this point in time. The Supplemental conference report includes language allowing the regional library systems to spend RLTA funds on other broadband access related initiatives that don’t necessarily align with the federal e-rate program.
 
The Supplemental budget bill also contains $15 million for the broadband development fund. The Rural Broadband Coalition led by Blandin and many other, including MLA-ITEM as a supporter, worked tirelessly this session to see new dollars added to the fund. 

“Academic Balance”

Last, but not least, was a controversial policy provision called “academic balance.” Advanced by Senate E-12 Budget Chair Carla Nelson, the proposal would have required schools to adopt a policy that many believe would have tied the hands of teachers when delving into sensitive issues about politics and personal beliefs. Sen. Nelson’s intent was to try and protect students who have differing views that their teachers, but opponents argued the provision would have a chilling effect on teaching and learning. The proposal is not included in the Supplemental bill as it currently stands.

Pension Reform

A Pension reform bill that’s important to many in the public sector also awaits approval by the House. 

Hold on for a bumpy ride the last few days. I hope to have good news to report next week.

Session Update

The following information was shared with the library community via the MLA and ITEM Legislative Update Newsletter Monday, May 7, 2018 by Sam Walseth, Capitol Hill Associates, in his role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

Two weeks from today the 90th Legislature will adjourn sine die, meaning never to return. As usual, all of the major decisions will pile up at the end of next week as leadership from all corners tried to position themselves for the best deal from their perspective. At this time there’s a deep sense that they won’t be able to come to terms on the tax conformity bill and therefore a Supplemental spending bill and potentially the bonding bill will fail to emerge. The Supplemental budget conference committee has yet to be named, but we’ll likely see it emerge today and perhaps a public meeting early this week. 
 
A pension overall bill is hopefully making its way out of a necessary House committee today and will survive the process. The Tax committees in the House and Senate will be debating a constitutional amendment that would dedicate hundreds of millions in auto part sales tax revenues to road and bridge projects this week. Some of the union trade groups are supporting this proposal, while many labor groups oppose it because it will create a permanent hole in the state’s general fund, making it difficult to fund education and HHS service when revenues get tight. 
 
Here’s a rundown of issues of direct interest to the MLA-ITEM platform:
 

Bonding

The House Capital Investment committee unveiled a bonding bill and it includes $2 million for Library construction and renovation grants. The bill was debated and passed out of committee last Friday. The Governor has said the bill’s total of $825 million in general obligation bonds is too low to meet the state’s needs. It’s unclear if Chair Dean Urdahl has a super-majority of votes to pass this bill off the House floor. “Thank you” notes to Chair Urdahl will be well received. He talked about the merits of the library bonding program on Friday when they went over his bill. At this time we haven’t seen a Senate bonding bill emerge yet. 
 
Here’s a link to the House bonding bill:
http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/comm/docs/863ce166-8962-41a9-a1bd-1c927b719dcd.pdf
 
Here’s a link to the spreadsheet for the House bill:
http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/comm/docs/42c4fa4d-9347-4339-803c-44fe7ef44649.pdf
 

RLTA

The battle over what to do with potentially unspent RLTA funds will come to a head in the supplemental budget bill conference committee negotiation, which will mostly take place behind closed doors. MLA wants the House position to prevail and that’s how folks should talk about the issue if they’re reaching out to conference committee members. 
 
We don’t know who those conference committee members are at the moment, but we know that Chair Jennifer Loon (GOP Eden Prairie) will most likely be one of them. Comments of “thank you for your support of RTLA for public libraries” and “please defend the House position” can be send to Chair Loon this week. She’ll appreciate knowing we’re still invested in this issue and are paying attention.
 

Net Neutrality

During debate on the Senate’s supplemental budget bill, Sen. Ron Latz offered an amendment that would have required internet service providers doing business with the state and local government units to abide by net neutrality principals. The amendment was challenged for not being germane to the budget bill and was ruled out of order. 

Broadband

The Governor proposed $30 million for broadband funding. The House and Senate have proposed $15 million. The fate of new broadband funding lies with getting a deal on the supplemental budget bill. Sen. Latz was able to get language amended into the Senate’s supplemental bill that gives priority to broadband grants to recipients that abide by ‘net neutrality’ rules.

“Academic Balance”

The Senate’s Supplemental Budget bill, SF 3656, contains a controversial education policy provision called “academic balance.” The provision mandates school boards to adopt a policy that some argue could have unintended consequences on the heart and soul of teaching and learning. You can read the provision and judge for yourself. It’s found on line 553.29 in the massive supplemental bill (SF 3656), which you can link to here:
https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=SF3656&version=latest&session=ls90&session_year=2018&session_number=0

[120B.25] ACADEMIC BALANCE POLICY.
A school board must adopt a written academic balance policy. At a minimum, the policy must prohibit discrimination against students on the basis of political, ideological, or religious beliefs. A student must not be required to publicly identify their personal beliefs, views, and values for the purpose of academic credit, classroom, or extracurricular participation. The policy must include reporting procedures and appropriate disciplinary actions for policy violations. The disciplinary actions must conform with collective bargaining agreements and sections 121A.41 to 121A.56. A district must post the policy on the district’s Web site during the 2018-2019 school year, provide a copy to each district employee, and include the policy in subsequent editions of the student handbook.

Legislative Update

The following information was shared with the library community via the MLA and ITEM Legislative Update Newsletter Friday, April 20, 2018 by Sam Walseth, Capitol Hill Associates, in his role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

There are four weeks left of the 2018 legislative session and as expected all the major decision-making will come down to the last weekend (May 18-20). The state’s constitution prescribes Monday, May 21 as the last day, but it also stipulates that the legislature cannot pass bills on a day prescribed for final adjournment (when they adjourn ‘sine die’). Therefore, midnight on Sunday, May 20 is the last chance for the legislature to pass bills. 
 
The House and Senate are currently in the process of assembling their omnibus supplemental spending bills that encompass change items across all of state government. In the ensuing week or so we’ll see the House and Senate produce a tax bill aimed at addressing conformity issues with the new federal tax law. 
 
2018, being the even numbered year in the biennium, is the traditional year for a bonding bill. The bonding bill process has always been a backroom ordeal, making it difficult to track progress on any one proposal. Don’t expect to see a lot of public process on the bonding bill. It will emerge amidst a global deal in the final hours of session. 
 
What’s specifically at stake for MLA-ITEM?
A public employee pension bill aimed at improving the solvency of the various pension funds is in the mix. The Senate didn’t hesitate to move this bill out and approved it 66-0 in March. House GOP leadership will hold the bill until the last days of session as bargaining leverage for the infamous ‘global’ negotiations yet to come. 
 
The supplemental budget bill could impact Regional Library Telecommunications Aid (RLTA), broadband funding and force school districts to implement ‘academic balance’ policies; legislation birthed from a culture war dust up in Edina schools last fall. Funding for library construction and renovation grants are at stake in the bonding bill.
 

RLTA (Regional Library Telecom Aid)

The Governor’s supplemental E-12 bill notes the potential for $350,000 in unspent Regional Library Telecommunications Aid (RLTA) in the current fiscal biennium. Instead of re-purposing these funds for Regional Library Basic System Support (RLBSS), the administration decided to recommend transferring any unspent RLTA funds to the school Telecommunications Equity Aid (TEA) program.

MLA has been working with the House and Senate to keep these public library funds in the public library fiscal world.  Despite testimony from the MN School Boards Association (MSBA) saying they want the funds for TEA, the House Education Finance committee is recommending keeping unspent RLTA funds in public library budgets. The House doesn’t go quite as far as MLA had requested in terms of using the funds for general operating purposes. The House supplemental E-12 budget bill would have the MDE Commissioner work with the regional library systems to re-purpose unspent RLTA funds next March on a variety of broadband and technology expense in a more flexibly manner than the limitations of the federal e-rate program (which RLTA is tied to). 
 
The Senate acquiesced to the MSBA position and their supplemental E-12 bill calls for cancelling unspent RLTA funds back to the state’s general fund and then the bill appropriates $440,000 for TEA. The bill doesn’t make a direct link between unspent RLTA and TEA in how it’s written, but Senate E-12 Chair Carla Nelson confirmed the move and her intent when I testified on behalf of MLA asking to keep the funds in RLTA. Chair Nelson said while she hoped to address library funding issues in the next budget session, she needed these funds for TEA in this non-budget/supplemental session. 
 
MDE has informally said they support MLA’s request to keep the public library RLTA funds in the public library fiscal world. The issue will be sorted out in the supplemental budget conference committee that will organize in the next week or so and will work until the end of session. 
 

Bonding

Library construction has been a mainstay of the bonding bill for many cycles. Governor Dayton proposed $2.5 million for library construction and renovation grants. We’ve had some positive attention this session in the House with the Kimball folks coming forward with a great story and request. Thanks to Rep. Jeff Howe for his continued advocacy for library projects. Hopefully, we’ll see an agreed to bonding bill emerge in the last night or two of session that includes funding for libraries. Broadband

Broadband

Governor Dayton has proposed an additional $30 million for community broadband funds. The House and Senate supplement bills include $15 million for broadband. Senate Jobs Chair Jeremy Miller spent $15 million of his $17 million on broadband, showing strong support in the Senate. Senator Rich Draheim offered an amendment that would require oversight of broadband service providers and internet speeds. Sen Draheim proposed that providers be required to disclose on their billing statements the average speed they are receiving during the billing period. However, the amendment was withdrawn in the spirit of solely focusing on funding the fund this year, without policy changes, as had been the position of the Rural Broadband Coalition.

In the House, Chair Pat Garofalo also spends $15 million on broadband, but he earmarks $750,000 for satellite providers. The funds are to be spent on 1,000 unserved consumers to aid in satellite equipment installment as well as to lower monthly subscription fees for one year. The Rural Broadband Coalition was disappointed at the amendment, especially since the satellite providers only are only required to meet speed goals of 25/3.

Net Neutrality

Talk of state actions to curb the impact of the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality rules have been quiet since January when two DFL law-makers announced they would push legislation to address the issue. However, earlier last week Sen. Karla Bigham (DFL Cottage Grove) and Rep. Debra Hilstrom (DFL Brooklyn Park) introduced legislation (SF 3968 and HF 4411) that would require internet providers doing business with the public sector in Minnesota to abide by net neutrality provisions. The session process is well past policy bill deadlines and the GOP majorities weren’t likely to take up these bills anyway. However, we may see these members make an attempt to offer this legislation as a ‘floor’ amendment in their respective bodies if they can find a bill that is germane to this issue. 

 

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!