Minnesota Library Legislative Update 04-29-2013

The following information was sent via e-mail on April 29, 2013 from Elaine Keefe, MLA/MEMO Lobbyist. Additional linked information added.

The Legislature must adjourn three weeks from today (April 29, 2013).  Most of the omnibus budget bills were passed on the floor of the House and Senate last week (week of April 22, 2013).  Conference committees are in the process of being appointed and will begin meeting later this week. Here is the status of the major bills affecting libraries:

Omnibus Higher Education Bill (SF 1236)

The bill has passed both the House and the Senate.

The Senate higher education bill includes a $300,000 per year increase in funding for Minitex/MnLINK.  The House maintains current funding.
 
Please contact the conferees listed below and ask them to support the Senate funding level for Minitex/MnLINK:   

Legislator Email Address Phone Number
Rep. Gene Pelowski (DFL – Winona) rep.gene.pelowski@house.mn 651-296-8637 or 888-681-8226
Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL – Golden Valley) rep.ryan.winkler@house.mn 651-296-7026
Rep. Paul Rosenthal (DFL – Edina) rep.paul.rosenthal@house.mn 651-296-7803
Rep. Zach Dorholt (DFL- St. Cloud) rep.zachary.dorholt@house.mn 651-296-6612 or 800-920-5884
Rep. Bud Nornes (R – Fergus Falls) rep.bud.nornes@house.mn 651-296-4946 or 800-336-8017
Senator Terri Bonoff (DFL – Minnetonka) sen.terri.bonoff@senate.mn 651-296-4314
Senator Greg Clausen (DFL – Apple Valley) sen.greg.clausen@senate.mn 651-296-4120
Senator Kent Eken (DFL – Twin Valley) sen.kent.eken@senate.mn 651-296-3205
Senator Jeremy Miller (R – Winona) sen.jeremy.miller@senate.mn 651-296-5649
Senator Sandy Pappas (DFL – St. Paul) sen.sandy.pappas@senate.mn 651-296-1802
Omnibus E-12 Education Bill (HF 630)

The bill has passed both the House and Senate. Here are the highlights for MLA and MEMO:

  • Both the House and Senate versions of the bill maintain all library appropriations at current levels.
  • Both the House and Senate change the terminology in statute from “grant” to “aid” for Regional Library Basic System Support and Multitype funding.
  • The Senate includes language clarifying that total operating capital can be used by schools to purchase computer, software and annual licensing fees. I expect the House to accept this language in conference.
  • The House increases the general education formula by 2% in FY 14 and 2% in FY 15. The Senate increases the general education formula by 1% in FY 14. The House had more money to spend than the Senate did.

House conferees are:

Rep. Paul Marquart (DFL – Dilworth)
Rep. Carolos Mariani (DFL – St. Paul)
Rep. Kathy Brynaert (DFL – Mankato)
Rep. Will Morgan (DFL – Burnsville)
Rep.Dean Urdahl (R – Grove City)

Senate conferees are:
Senator Chuck Wiger (DFL – Maplewood)
Senator Patricia Torres Ray (DFL – Minneapolis)
Senator LeRoy Stumpf (DFL – Plummer)
Senator Alice Johnson (DFL – Spring Lake Park)
Senator Kevin Dahle (DFL – Northfield)

Omnibus Tax Bill (HF 677)

The bill has passed the House and is currently being debated in the Senate. Both bills raise a substantial amount of new revenue via increases in income taxes, sales taxes and and cigarette taxes. The House also raises taxes on alcohol.  Both bills include property tax relief.
 
The House bill increases aid to cities by $80 million and aid to counties by $30 million.  The Senate bill increases aid to cities by $80 million and aid to counties by $40 million.  These increases will be helpful to public libraries.

Legacy

The House Legacy bill was scheduled to be taken up on the House floor 10 days ago and then was pulled.  Rumor has it that controversy over the outdoor heritage appropriations have made it questionable whether the bill can pass.  The Senate has not yet put its bill together.

Minnesota Library Legislative Update 04-09-2013

The following information was sent via e-mail on April 9, 2013 from Elaine Keefe, MLA/MEMO Lobbyist. Additional linked information added.

House Omnibus Education Bill

The House omnibus education bill was posted online this afternoon (April 9, 2013).  It maintains current funding for all library appropriations — Regional Library Basic System Support (RLBSS), Regional Library Telecommunication Aid (RLTA), Multi-type funding, the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM) and Telecommunication Equity Aid (TEA).  The bill also increases the general education formula from the current $5,224 per pupil to $5,328 in FY 2014 and $5,433 in FY 2015.  It also repays the education funding shift to the 90/10 payment schedule.

Senate Omnibus Education Bill

The Senate bill will be released Thursday morning, April 11, 2013.

Senate Higher Education Funding Bill

Great news! The Senate higher education bill increases funding for Minitex and MnLINK by $300,000 per year.  Please send thanks to our chief author, Senator Kent Eken and the Committee chair, Senator Terri Bonoff.

House Higher Education Funding Bill

As expected, the House higher education bill maintains current funding for Minitex and MnLINK.  Once the higher ed bill gets to conference committee, we will need to press the conferees to go with the higher funding level in the Senate bill.

Bonding

We had not planned to pursue funding for Library Accessibility and Improvement Grants this year, but were encouraged to introduce a bill by House leaders.  We did have a bill introduced to provide $3 million, but today the House bonding bill was unveiled and it does not include any funding for libraries.  We will pursue it next year.

Legacy

As previously reported, the House Legacy bill includes $3 million per year for regional public libraries and $300,000 per year for the Minnesota Digital Library.  The Senate has just announced the process it will follow.  Our Legacy request for regional public libraries will originate in the Senate E-12 Education Division before going to the Senate Legacy Subcommittee.

Minnesota Library Legislative Update 03-29-2013

The following information was sent via e-mail on March 29, 2013 from Elaine Keefe, MLA/MEMO Lobbyist. Additional linked information added.

The Legislature is taking its annual Passover/Easter break this week and will return to work on Tuesday, April 2, 2013. At that point the Legislature will have seven weeks to conclude its work before the constitutional adjournment deadline of May 20, 2013.

Committee Deadlines

Last Friday (March 22, 2013) was the second committee deadline. To meet that deadline, bills must have passed through policy committees and have been referred to either the floor or a finance committee in both the House and the Senate.  Bills that have not met the deadline cannot proceed on their own, but they can still be amended onto other bills that are moving forward.

Budget

Last week House and Senate leaders released their respective budget targets for each area of the budget (E-12 education, higher education, health & human services, transportation, etc.).  Over the next two weeks committees will be unveiling their omnibus finance bills, marking them up and passing them.  The deadline for passing omnibus finance bills out of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee is Friday, April 19, 2013.

Legacy

The House Legacy Committee will release the Arts and Cultural Heritage article of its omnibus bill on Wednesday, April 3, 2013.  We have strong support in the House and I expect libraries to do well in that bill.  The Senate Legacy Subcommittee has not met yet (except for two joint hearings with the House on items unrelated to libraries) and no meetings have been announced. Mark Ranum and I have met with most of the members of the subcommittee and they have been supportive. However, we have not been able to meet with the chair, who has previously taken the position that libraries should apply to the State Arts Board for grants rather than receiving Legacy funding directly.  We have submitted a proposal for funding to the Legacy subcommittee and I have met with the subcommittee staff twice.  I’m told we will have an opportunity to make a presentation at some point, but no schedule has been mapped out.  This is consistent with the pattern that has existed since the Legacy amendment was passed in 2008.  The House comes out with its bill first, and the Senate takes a look at it and then puts together its own version.

Minitex/MnLINK

As reported previously, our bill to increase funding for Minitex and MnLINK was heard in the Senate Higher Education Policy and Budget Division on March 19, 2013, and it was well-received by the committee.  We have a very supportive chair in Senator Terri Bonoff and her committee has a fairly generous budget target, so I am hopeful we will see an increase for Minitex and MnLINK in the Senate.  The House is another matter.  When Mark Ranum, Valerie Horton and I met with the House Higher Education chair, Rep. Gene Pelowski, he told us flat out that this was not the year when we could expect to see an increase, even though he agrees that Minitex and MnLINK are valuable programs.  His goal for this year is structural reform of what he views as a bloated higher ed system.  He said that we would have our chance in the next budget cycle two years from now. The House budget target for higher education is far lower than the Senate’s target ($150 million in new spending in the House vs. $263 million in the Senate).  Our bill has not received a hearing and the omnibus bill is scheduled to be unveiled on Wednesday.

Homework Help

I am very disappointed to report that our bill will not receive a hearing in either body. There are several reasons for this, but I think the main one is that, like the Governor, legislators are focusing resources on the big pieces in the budget — the general ed formula, special education and early learning (all day kindergarten and preschool scholarships).  The chair of the House Education Finance Committee, Rep. Paul Marquart, reacted quite negatively to the idea of Homework Help when we met with him.  He said, “We are struggling to find the money to adequately fund the things we already have — we can’t fund anything new.”  I had hoped that he would come around after budget targets were announced.  The House education target is a healthy number — $550 million in new spending.  I again asked for a hearing but was told no.  Senators on the E-12 Education Budget Division, including the chair, were supportive of Homework Help in our meetings.  However, the Senate’s budget target for education is quite skimpy when one takes into account that legislative leaders have dictated that the bulk of the target be spent on buying down education levies and fully funding all day kindergarten.  The Senate will probably have to choose between increasing the general ed formula and special ed — they don’t have enough money to do both. In this scenario, Homework Help became a casualty.

Bonding

Although we have normally pursued funding for Library Accessibility and Improvement Grants in the second year of the biennium because that’s when the Legislature traditionally passes a major bonding bill, the House has been pushing hard for a significant bonding bill this year.  At the urging of Rep. Alice Hausman, chair of the House Capital Investment Committee, we had a bill introduced to provide $3 million for Library Accessibility and Improvement Grants.  The bill is HF 1501/ SF 1473Rep. Mary Murphy and Senator Alice Johnson are our chief authors and we have a great bi-partisan group of co-authors.  The Senate seems to be warming up to the idea of a larger than usual bonding bill in the first year of the biennium, so there may be an opportunity for us.  Stay tuned.

U.S. House passes the Workforce Investment Act

Excerpts from the District Dispatch, online news blog from the American Library Association’s Washington Office.

On March 15, 2013, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 803, the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act, reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). Library-specific provisions in the bill include the following items:

  • Ensure the state workforce investment plan includes a description of the actions that will be taken by the state to foster communication, coordination, and partnerships with non-profit organizations – including public libraries (under section 112(b));
  • Ensure the local state workforce investment plan includes a description of the strategies and services that will be used in the local area to better coordinate workforce development programs with employment, training, and literacy services carried out by non-profit organizations – including libraries (under section 118(b)); and
  • Authorize public libraries that carry out employment, training, and literacy services as additional one-stop partners so they can better assist with workforce development activities (under section 121(b)(2)(B)).

Legislation now moves onto the U.S. Senate.  To read the original posting from the District Dispatch, click here.

Minnesota Library Legislative Update 03-21-2013

The following information is excerpted from e-mails sent on March 20 & 21, 2013 from Mark Ranum, 2013 MLA Legislative Chair. Additional linked information added.

Date Privacy Bill

The short update is that with the assistance of legislators on the committee and other experts, we have determined that the data privacy protection we are seeking is already in the current law. What follows is the longer update.

We drafted the following language to be included in MS 13.40 Subd. 2 (a) is as follows (bold portion):

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b), the following data maintained by a library or a vendor providing any electronic data services under contract with a library are private data on individuals and may not be disclosed for other than library purposes except pursuant to a court order

This drafted language was included in Senate bill SF 745 and House Bill HF 695.

We had a comment from Rep. Mary Liz Holberg in the first committee hearing, followed by comments from Don Gemberling, a data practices expert in MN, who both believed that this addition might be covered in MS 13.05 Subd. 6 as follows.

Subd. 6.Contracts.

Except as provided in section 13.46, subdivision 5, in any contract between a government entity subject to this chapter and any person, when the contract requires that data on individuals be made available to the contracting parties by the government entity, that data shall be administered consistent with this chapter. A contracting party shall maintain the data on individuals which it received according to the statutory provisions applicable to the data.

Our point on this issue is that this data on individuals is not “made available to the contracting parties by the government entity,” but rather is sometimes directly input into the vendor’s system by the patron.  This addition seemed to be necessary for this reason, and more broadly protects patron privacy when using these systems.

Further discussions with data privacy experts, however, led to the belief that rather than MS 13.05 Subd. 6. covering this issue, MS 13.05 Subd. 11. Privatization covers our needs.  Here is that section.

Subd. 11.Privatization.

(a) If a government entity enters into a contract with a private person to perform any of its functions, the government entity shall include in the contract terms that make it clear that all of the data created, collected, received, stored, used, maintained, or disseminated by the private person in performing those functions is subject to the requirements of this chapter and that the private person must comply with those requirements as if it were a government entity. The remedies in section 13.08 apply to the private person under this subdivision.

This section places the burden on libraries to make sure our contracts include references to the Minnesota Data Practices Act.  Libraries need to require the vendor understands they are “subject to the requirements of this chapter and that the private person must comply with those requirements as if it were a government entity.”

Given the results of the legislative conversations and advice from experts, we are withdrawing the library language platform item from this bill.  Since the Library bill was the vehicle for the House Omnibus Data Practices act, our bill is still technically alive by number.  However, the library provision will not be included.

Minitex and MnLINK

Our hearing on SF 995 (Eken) Minitex and MnLINK Gateway programs appropriation, was held in the Higher Education and Workforce Development Division of the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday, March 19, 2013. You can listen to the testimony here, which runs less than 10 minutes, starting around the 2 hour mark.

Bruce Willms from Metropolitan State University did a terrific job testifying! Thank you to Bruce for pinch hitting for me on that day! And if you ever wondered if our lobbyist is an enthusiastic library supporter, PLEASE listen to her few minutes of remarks and her expert handling of the committee. Elaine Keefe is a terrific advocate for us every day at the Capitol.

Senator Eken, the lead author, is from Norman County in the Lake Agassiz region, and thank you emails to him for supporting libraries with this bill would be greatly appreciated from anywhere in the state: sen.kent.eken@senate.mn

Senator Rockefeller calls for major expansion of E-Rate program

Some information taken from a press release from Senator Jay Rockefeller’s (D-WV) office issued March 12, 2013. Additional linked information included.

Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) today chaired a U.S. Senate Commerce Committee hearing in which he called for updates to the successful E-Rate program – which he created – that has expanded access to high-speed Internet in schools and libraries across West Virginia.  E-Rate covers the cost of wiring schools and libraries to the Internet and provides student and adult access to information technology no matter their community or income level.

SELCO receives around $40,000 from the E-Rate program, reimbursing SELCO for approximately 53% of the actual costs of providing internet service at the SELCO Online Public Libraries.

Click here read the full press release. To view Sen. Rockefeller’s full remarks from the Committee hearing, click here.

A good day at the Capitol

 Representative Liebling with Irvin and Hutton 2 Representative Kelly with Stanford, Lambright and Peters 2 Libraries Strengthen Minnesota logo small

Library advocates from around the SELCO region and across the state were at the Capitol on March 6 to speak with legislators and advocate for state funding of public, school, and academic library services, programs, and initiatives. 

This year’s library initiatives include funding for a free, statewide online homework help program, Legacy Amendment program funding from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, and state support for the cooperative, cost-saving delivery and information resource services such as MnLINK, Minitex, and the Electronic Library for Minnesota.

The ongoing state infrastructure support for libraries provides a seamless network of information resources for all Minnesotans.  Library trustees, Friends, and staff discussed the important role quality library services play in early literacy, school success, job creation, and strong, vibrant communities.

Photos include:

  • Tyler Irvin, Technology Support Librarian, Representative Tina Liebling, and Ann Hutton, Executive Director. 
  • Mollie Stanford, Regional Librarian, Representative Tim Kelly, Donovan Lambright, Automation Librarian, and Andru Peters, SELCO Board Member and City Member – Lake City
  • Click here for more photos from MLA – MEMO Library Legislative Day 2013

Participate in Virtual Minnesota Library Legislative Day on March 6, 2013

Sent by Mark Ranum, 2013 MLA Legislative Chair, via e-mail on March 4, 2013.  Additional linked information is included.

March 6, 2013 is your day to contact your Minnesota HOUSE and SENATE members and ADVOCATE FOR LIBRARIES!!!

If you can’t make Minnesota Legislative Day in person, you can still make a difference by contacting your Representatives and Senators by telephone or email and letting them know that library funding from the state is very important!

You can review the platform and documents on specific issues of interest at http://www.mnlibraryassociation.org/committees/legislative-committee#documents

The bill numbers for each issue will be available on the MLA website under the legislative committee documents link listed above, so you can refer to specific bill numbers in the House and Senate when you contact legislators.  Some of the issues will not have specific bill numbers since they are part of the Governor’s proposed budget.

When you call or email, it’s best to advocate for a specific issue or bill, and particularly if that issue or bill is under consideration in one of the committees where your legislator is a member.

Find your legislators at http://www.gis.leg.mn/OpenLayers/districts/   When your Senator and Representative names are displayed, you can click on their names to find out their committee assignments.
 
You can pass this email along to all your library board members, friends, and advocates, and library patrons!!  Encourage them to contact their legislators!

Even a call or email expressing general library support on March 6, 2013, would be terrific and very helpful in our advocacy efforts.  The more positive energy and impact we have that day, the more positive our conversations about libraries continue at the Capitol.

Minnesota Library Legislative Update 02-28-2013

The following information was sent via e-mail on February 28, 2013 from Elaine Keefe, MLA/MEMO Lobbyist. Additional linked information added.

State Economic Forecast

A new state economic forecast was released today, and it contains good news.  The projected budget deficit for the next biennium has shrunk to $627 million.  This is an improvement of $463 million over the $1.1 billion deficit that was projected in December.
 
The forecast also contains good news for the current biennium.  The state is now projected to end the current biennium with a positive balance of $295 million.  Under current law, $5 million of that will go into the state’s budget reserve and $290 million will go to repay the education funding shift.

Budget Process

Governor Dayton is expected to issue a revised budget proposal in about two weeks.  Soon after that, legislative leaders will set budget targets.  House rules require a budget resolution to be adopted no later than March 25, 2013, but House leaders have said they hope to do it sooner.  Senate leaders will also set budget targets, but the Senate does not adopt a formal budget resolution in public.  

Data Privacy

Our data privacy bill for public libraries, HF 695/SF 745, will be heard on Friday, March 1, 2013, in the House Data Practices Subcommittee and on Tuesday, March 5, 2013, in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Minitex/MnLINK

Our bill providing a funding increase for Minitex and MnLINK will be introduced in the House this afternoon (February 28, 2013). Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL – Golden Valley) is the chief author.  Co-authors are Rep. Bud Nornes (R – Fergus Falls) and Rep. Kathy Brynaert (DFL – Mankato).

Minnesota Library Legislative Update 02-24-2013

The following information was sent via e-mail on February 24, 2013 from Elaine Keefe, MLA/MEMO Lobbyist. Additional linked information added.

Data Privacy

Under current law, records linking public library users to library materials they have searched for or borrowed that are owned by the library are private. HF 695, our bill extending the same protection to electronic data owned by a private vendor and licensed by a public library (e.g., e-books) was introduced last Monday by Rep. Steve Simon (DFL – Hopkins), chair of the House Data Practices Subcommittee.  The companion bill, SF 745, will be introduced on Monday, February 25, 2013, by Senator Kari Dzeidzic (DFL – Minneapolis)Senator Ron Latz (DFL – St. Louis Park), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is a co-author. 

Homework Help

Our bill to fund a statewide contract to make a free online homework help service available statewide will be introduced as SF 781 on Monday, February 25, 2013.  The chief author is Senator John Hoffman (DFL – Champlin). Co-authors are Sen. Alice Johnson (DFL – Spring Lake Park), Sen. LeRoy Stumpf (DFL – Plummer), Sen. Vicki Jensen (DFL – Owatonna) and Sen. Carla Nelson (R – Rochester).  The House version will be introduced soon.  Rep. Kathy Brynaert (DFL – Mankato) has signed on as the chief author.  If any of these legislators represent you, please write to thank them.

Minitex and MnLINK

We have secured chief authors in both bodies for our bill to increase funding for Minitex and MnLINK.  Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL – Golden Valley) will carry our bill in the House and Senator Kent Eken (DFL – Twin Valley) will carry our bill in the Senate.  I am currently recruiting co-authors, with the goal of getting the bills introduced no later than Monday, March 4, 2013.

Legacy

Last Wednesday (February 20, 2013) Mark Ranum made a presentation before the House Legacy Committee about what regional public libraries have done with Legacy funding received to date and about our request for funding for the upcoming biennium (FY 14-15).  It was very well received by the committee, resulting in extended remarks by committee members about the benefits of Legacy programs provided by public libraries and of libraries in general.  Reps. Mary Murphy (DFL – Hermantown), Leon Lillie (DFL – N. St. Paul) and John Ward (DFL – Brainerd) were especially effusive. 

State Economic Forecast

The next forecast will be released on Thursday, February 28. 2013.  It is widely expected that the forecast will show improvement from the forecast released in December 2012 that projected a $1.1 million deficit at the conclusion of the FY 14-15 biennium.  It may also show an increase in the forecasted surplus for the current biennium, which would result in a further repayment of the education funding shift.  Governor Dayton will release his revised budget recommendations about two weeks after the forecast is released.