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Special Session Wraps

The following information was shared with the library community via the MLA and ITEM Legislative Update Newsletter Wednesday, May 29, 2019 by Sam Walseth, Capitol Hill Associates, in his role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

Governor Walz called the legislature in for a special session last Friday. The leadership budget deal that was reached on Sunday, May 19th called for a one-day special session to pass the unfinished budget bills. Despite some saber rattling by the minority caucuses about prolonging the special session, they were able to come in Friday morning and get all of the budget bill passed by 7am Saturday morning. With that, legislative activity is done in Minnesota until the legislature reconvenes on Tuesday, February 11, 2020. 

Despite our strong efforts and the advocacy of Rep. Mary Murhpy and Sen. Mark Johnson, the additional funding and distribution formula change for the 12 regional public library systems was not included in the final education bill. In fact, very little beyond the three major education funding pieces; 2&2 on the basic formula, special education cross-subsidy aid and preK funding, made it into the final E-12 bill. The growth of preK in the E-12 bill continues to drown out other funding initiatives that aren’t directly tied to the core classroom. PreK funding will continue to pose a challenge as the newly adopted PreK funding was only set for two years; therefore school districts will be back in 2021 seeking to secure those dollars again. 

Libraries will see a slight increase in the amount of Legacy funding they have to spend. $2.55 million/year for the next two years is appropriated for library Legacy programming. 

A bonding bill didn’t emerge this session, despite being a stated part of the leadership budget deal. 2020 will see a push for a large bonding bill on the part of Governor Walz and the House DFL.

2019 Session closes, special session looms

The following information was shared with the library community via the MLA and ITEM Legislative Update Newsletter Tuesday, May 21, 2019 by Sam Walseth, Capitol Hill Associates, in his role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

The 2019 session adjourned at midnight on Monday the 20th, per the constitution, but with only one of about 10 budget bills actually being passed by both bodies. The Higher Education bill, which includes $5.095 million/year for MNLINK, was the one bill completed on time.
 
It appears that leadership in the House and Senate, along with Gov. Tim Walz, have reached a E-12 agreement that includes a total funding target of $543 million in the next fiscal year and $720 million in FY 22-23. The key components of the E-12 agreement appear to be:

  • Student Formula: 2% on the General Education Formula each of the next two years.
  • Special Education: $91 million in the next year and $142 million for FY 22-23 to freeze the cross-subsidy
  • Voluntary PreK: $47 million to maintain the 4,000 seats in FY 20-21 and $2.5 million for 10% prior year payment in FY 22-23
  • Safe Schools: $30 million in one-time funding for safe schools grants appropriation, contingent upon closing balance for FY 19 exceeding February forecast estimated closing balance

We are awaiting further details as we don’t have the actual bill language at this time. We may see the bill details at 3pm Wednesday. The plan is for the Governor to call a Special Session on Thursday to begin processing the agreed-to budget bills.
 
RLBSS & RLTA – Omnibus Education Bills
 
While we don’t have full details on the E-12 bill, it doesn’t appear that any new funding for library programs, including RLBSS, will be included. The same goes for any new revenue for Telecom Equity Aid for schools.
 
Library Legacy – Omnibus Legacy Bills
               
We will hopefully see the final Legacy bill at a meeting they’ve announced for 2pm tomorrow.
 
Net Neutrality – Omnibus House Jobs bill
 
We don’t have details on the omnibus Jobs bill. It’s highly unlikely that net neutrality provisions will be included in the final Jobs bill.
 
Bonding bill
 
The leadership agreement on the budget calls for $440 million in general obligation (GO) bonds. However, passage of this in a special session is a 50/50 proposition since the House minority, which would be needed to put up enough votes to pass GO bonds, wasn’t a part of the leadership budget deal.
 
Hennepin County Library Director Statutory Change – HF 2097 & SF 2267
 
HF 2097 was debated on the House floor on May 13 and passed by a vote of 81-41. The bill was amended with this language added, “Preference shall be given to candidates with library 
experience.”
 
The Senate accepted the House amendment and passed the bill 57-9 on May 19. The bill awaits action by Governor Walz.
 
School Media Specialist Support – HF 247 & SF 2010
 
HF 247 & SF 2010 did not pass this session, but are viable for the 2020 session.
 
 
2020 Legislative Session begins on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 at noon
 

Legislative Update – One Week from Session End

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

Finals Week – Conference Committee Process Underway
 
Last week was a slow week of initial conference committee meetings. The various conference committees take a few days to review the House and Senate bills. This process is referred to as walking through the ‘side-by-sides.’ 
 
Including today they have 8 days to finish their work, which must be completed by midnight on Monday, May 20. Leadership negotiations on a global deal stalled out last week, but they reportedly met Sunday evening to resume talks. The speculation is that leadership will agree to a budget deal this Wednesday, which will give the various budget conference committees 2-3 days to hash out the details of their respective spending bills. If we drift into next weekend without a global budget deal then we’re likely looking at a special session to be named later to continue the budget debate. The state’s fiscal year ends on June 30.  
 
The line in the sand for DFL Governor Walz and GOP Senate Majority Leader Gazelka is clearly the gas tax. A signature piece of the Walz budget plan has become the hill that Sen. Gazelka plans to die on. Can Walz secure reinstatement of the provider tax to fund HHS and additional general fund tax revenue through federal tax conformity for Education if he relents on the gas tax? The last week of any legislative session is always the most intriguing. Let’s hope for a strong finish for the E-12 and Legacy bills including our library provisions.
 
RLBSS & RLTA – Omnibus Education Bills
 
The House’s $900 million investment in education programs (HF 2400) includes a significant provision for regional library systems. At the request of the 12 regional public library systems, the House bill would adjust the distribution formula for Regional Library Basic System Support (RLBSS) and increase funding by $3.6 million in FY 2021 and $4 million in FY 2022 increase. The House bill also adds language to the Regional Library Telecommunications Aid (RLTA) to create more allowable uses for these funds. The House passed HF 2400 on April 23.
 
The Senate education bill (SF 7) doesn’t carry either provision.
 
TEA –
 
The Senate education bill adds $500,000/year to the schools Telecom Equity Aid, bringing the amount to $4.25 million/year. The Senate bill removes the financial incentive for schools to participate in telecom clusters, which could make retaining school district membership in a cluster more of a challenge.
 
The House E-12 conferees are:
 

  • Jim Davnie (co-chair, DFL Minneapolis)
  • Cheryl Youakim (DFL Hopkins)
  • Julie Sandstede (DFL Hibbing)
  • Dave Pinto (DFL St. Paul)
  • Dean Urdahl (GOP Grove City)

 
The Senate E-12 conferees are:
 

  • Carla Nelson (co-chair – GOP Rochester)
  • Justin Eichorn (GOP Grand Rapids/Bemidji)
  • Bill Weber (GOP Luverne)
  • John Jasinski (GOP Fairbault)
  • Chuck Wiger (DFL Maplewood)

 
Library Legacy – Omnibus Legacy Bills
               
House Legacy bill (HF 653) includes $2.5 million/year for the next two years for library legacy programming. The Senate Legacy bill (SF 836) includes $2.6 million/year for the next two years for library legacy.
 
The Senate Legacy committee heard a bill to fund $96,000 for libraries to buy telescopes and loan them out. Senate Legacy didn’t fund this request, but essentially added the $96,000 request (rounded up to $100,000) to the MLA request for $2.5 million/year.
 
The House Legacy bill also includes language tightening requirements to ensure Legacy recipients aren’t supplanting existing funds. The House bill also says individual recipients of Legacy funds must be residents of Minnesota. This language is problematic and MLA and other Arts and Cultural Heritage recipients are working to ensure it isn’t included in the final Legacy bill.
 
The House Legacy Conferees are:
 
Leon Lillie (co-chair North St. Paul)
Mary Murphy (Hermantown)
Amy Wazlawik (White Bear Township)
Rick Hanson (South St. Paul)
Greg Boe (Chaska)
 
The Senate Legacy Conferees are:
 
Carrie Ruud (Breezy Point)
To be assigned
To be assigned
To be assigned
To be assigned
 
Net Neutrality – Omnibus House Jobs bill
 
HF 136 by Rep. Zach Stephenson is the net neutrality bill that would require state and public agencies to only enter into contracts with internet service providers abiding by net neutrality principals. HF 136 was merged into the House’s omnibus Jobs & Economic Development bill, HF 2208, which the House passed on April 24th. These provisions await conference committee action.
 
The Senate has not heard the net neutrality bill this session, SF 317.
 
Library Construction & Renovation – House Omnibus Bonding bill
 
House Capital Investment Chair, Rep. Mary Murphy, has advanced a robust bonding bill out of her committee. HF 2529 appropriates $1.5 billion in state bonding authority for many projects. As the chief library advocate in the legislature, Rep. Murphy has included $9 million in her omnibus bonding bill for the library construction and renovation grant program. She’s also upped the $200,000 limit on accessibility grants in the pool to $400,000. It’s unclear if HF 2529 will be taken up on the House floor.
 
The Senate has not advanced an omnibus bonding bill this session. Sen. Rich Draheim has introduced the MLA request for $10 million in library construction and renovation grants in SF 2725.
 
Hennepin County Library Director Statutory Change – HF 2097 & SF 2267
 
Legislation aimed at eliminating a statutory requirement for the Hennepin County Library Director to have a graduate degree from a graduate school accredited by the American Library Association has advanced in both the House and Senate. This legislation is traveling as a stand-alone bill and resides on both the House and Senate floors and awaits floor debate in each chamber.
 
School Media Specialist Support – HF 247 & SF 2010
 
Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein, a licensed school library media specialist by day, help advance the cause of getting more licensed school media specialists into Minnesota’s schools. Her HF 247 received favorable review in the House Education Policy committee which sent it to House Education Finance. House Education Finance reviewed the bill as well, but it didn’t get included in their omnibus education finance bill.
 
Sen. Chuck Wiger introduced the companion bill, SF 2010, but it wasn’t heard in the Senate Education committee this session.
 
HF 247 & SF 2010 are viable for the 2020 session, but won’t receive further action during the current session.

Legislative Update: Conference Committees

The following information was shared with the library community via the MLA and ITEM Legislative Update Newsletter Friday, May 6, 2019 by Sam Walseth, Capitol Hill Associates, in his role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

Two Weeks Remain – Conference Committee Process Starts
 
Last week was another long week of floor debates as the House and Senate got their remaining budget bills passed. Leadership appointed conference committee members for each of the 10 budget bills.  A few conference committees met on Friday to begin the process of comparing and contrasting the House, Senate and Governor’s positions on issues. The E-12 conference committee was one of the last to be appointed and they will have their first meeting today at 2 pm. MDE Commissioner Mary Catherine Ricker is expected to provide testimony outlining and reiterating the Governor’s education agenda.                             
The House E-12 conference committee members are:

  • Jim Davnie (co-chair, DFL Minneapolis)
  • Cheryl Youakim (DFL Hopkins)
  • Julie Sandstede (DFL Hibbing)
  • Dave Pinto (DFL St. Paul)
  • Dean Urdahl (GOP Grove City)

The Senate E-12 conference committee members are:

  • Carla Nelson (co-chair – GOP Rochester)
  • Justin Eichorn (GOP Grand Rapids/Bemidji)
  • Bill Weber (GOP Luverne)
  • John Jasinski (GOP Faribault)
  • Chuck Wiger (DFL Maplewood)

 
Legislative leaders reportedly met over the weekend to meet a self-imposed deadline of providing budget targets to the conference committees. As of the time this update was written there was no news to report on this front.
 
There are several budget and policy items in the works of interest to the library community detailed below, including their status in the legislative process.
 
RLBSS & RLTA – Omnibus Education Bills
 
The House’s $900 million investment in education programs (HF 2400) includes a significant provision for regional library systems. At the request of the 12 regional public library systems, the House bill would adjust the distribution formula for Regional Library Basic System Support (RLBSS) and increase funding by $3.6 million in FY 2021 and $4 million in FY 2022 increase. The House bill also adds language to the Regional Library Telecommunications Aid (RLTA) to create more allowable uses for these funds. The House passed HF 2400 on April 23.
 
The Senate education bill (SF 7) by contrast carries neither provision. The Senate education bill does add $500,000/year to the schools Telecom Equity Aid, bringing the amount to $4.25 million/year. The Senate bill removes the financial incentive for schools to participate in telecom clusters, which could make maintain school district membership in a cluster more of a challenge. The Senate E-12 bill passed off the Senate floor on Wednesday, May 1.
 
Library Legacy – Omnibus Legacy Bills
               
House Legacy bill (HF 653) includes $2.5 million/year for the next two years for library legacy programming. The Senate Legacy bill (SF 836) includes $2.6 million/year for the next two years for library legacy.
 
The Senate Legacy committee heard a bill to fund $96,000 for libraries to buy telescopes and loan them out. Senate Legacy didn’t fund this request, but essentially added the $96,000 request (rounded up to $100,000) to the MLA request for $2.5 million/year.
 
The House Legacy bill also includes language tightening requirements to ensure Legacy recipients aren’t supplanting existing funds. The language is problematic and MLA and other Arts and Cultural Heritage recipients are working to ensure it isn’t included in the final Legacy bill.
 
The House Legacy bill was passed off the floor last week. The Senate Legacy bill awaits floor action this week.
 
Library Construction & Renovation – House Omnibus Bonding bill
 
House Capital Investment Chair, Rep. Mary Murphy, has advanced a robust bonding bill out of her committee. HF 2529 appropriates $1.5 billion in state bonding authority for many projects. As the chief library advocate in the legislature, Rep. Murphy has included $9 million in her omnibus bonding bill for the library construction and renovation grant program. She’s also upped the $200,000 limit on accessibility grants in the pool to $400,000. It’s unclear if HF 2529 will be taken up on the House floor.
 
The Senate has not advanced an omnibus bonding bill this session. Sen. Rich Draheim has introduced the MLA request for $10 million in library construction and renovation grants in SF 2725.
 
Net Neutrality – Omnibus House Jobs bill
 
HF 136 by Rep. Zach Stephenson is the net neutrality bill that would require state and public agencies to only enter into contracts with internet service providers abiding by net neutrality principals. HF 136 was merged into the House’s omnibus Jobs & Economic Development bill, HF 2208, which the House passed on April 24. These provisions await conference committee action.
 
The Senate has not heard the net neutrality bill this session, SF 317.
 
Hennepin County Library Director Statutory Change – HF 2097 & SF 2267
 
Legislation aimed at eliminating a statutory requirement for the Hennepin County Library Director to have a graduate degree from a graduate school accredited by the American Library Association has advanced in both the House and Senate. This legislation is traveling as a stand-alone bill and resides on both the House and Senate floors and awaits floor debate in each chamber.
 
School Media Specialist Support – HF 247 & SF 2010
 
Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein, a licensed school library media specialist by day, help advance the cause of getting more licensed school media specialists into Minnesota’s schools. Her HF 247 received favorable review in the House Education Policy committee which sent it to House Education Finance. House Education Finance reviewed the bill as well, but it didn’t get included in their omnibus education finance bill.
 
Sen. Chuck Wiger introduced the companion bill, SF 2010, but it wasn’t heard in the Senate Education committee this session.
 

Legislative Update

The following information was shared with the library community via the MLA and ITEM Legislative Update Newsletter Saturday, April 27, 2019 by Sam Walseth, Capitol Hill Associates, in his role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

Three Weeks Remain
 
After returning from their spring break, the House and Senate began the arduous process of moving their massive budget and policy bills off their respective floors. While leadership had hoped to make more progress last week, much work remains when they return to business this week. They’re working to have all of the budget bills passed and to have conference committees established by the end of business, which could be late into the evening, on Wednesday, May 1. This session is proving no different than every other one before it in that all of the major work is piling up at the end. They have three weeks to go before the state’s constitution mandates an end to the session on May 20.
 
Last week the Senate GOP started to dig in even harder against a gas tax increase saying “not a penny more.” The DFL is digging in on insisting the Provider Tax continue, which supports the Health Care Access Fund. The GOP wants a continuation of the health reinsurance program they put in place two years ago to stabilize rates in the individual insurance market. There’s potential for a trade on this front. The House DFL and Senate GOP tax bills, however, are light years apart. With no additional gas tax revenue to relieve the state’s general fund of recently enacted transportation obligations, it’s hard to see how increases are provided to E-12 and Higher Education.
 
There are several budget and policy items in the works of interest to the library community detailed below, including their status in the legislative process.
 
RLBSS & RLTA – Omnibus Education Bills
 
The House’s $900 million investment in education programs (HF 2400) includes a significant provision for regional library systems. At the request of the 12 regional public library systems, the House bill would adjust the distribution formula for Regional Library Basic System Support (RLBSS) and increase funding by $3.6 million in FY 2021 and $4 million in FY 2022 increase. The House bill also adds language to the Regional Library Telecommunications Aid (RLTA) to create more allowable uses for these funds. The House passed HF 2400 on April 23rd.
 
The Senate education bill (SF 7) by contrast carries neither provision. The Senate education bill does add $500,000/year to the schools Telecom Equity Aid, bringing the amount to $4.25 million/year. The Senate bill removes the financial incentive for schools to participate in telecom clusters, which could make maintaining school district membership in a cluster more of a challenge. The Senate E-12 bill will likely be passed off the Senate floor on Monday, April 29th.
 
Library Legacy – Omnibus Legacy Bills
               
House Legacy bill (HF 653) includes $2.5 million/year for the next two years for library legacy programming. The Senate Legacy bill (SF 836) includes $2.6 million/year for the next two years for library legacy.
 
The Senate Legacy committee heard a bill to fund $96,000 for libraries to buy telescopes and loan them out. Senate Legacy didn’t fund this request, but essentially added the $96,000 request (rounded up to $100,000) to the MLA request for $2.5 million/year.
 
The House Legacy bill also includes language tightening requirements to ensure Legacy recipients aren’t supplanting existing funds. The language is problematic and MLA and other Arts and Cultural Heritage recipients are working to ensure it isn’t included in the final Legacy bill.
 
Both the House and Senate Legacy bills await floor action this week. They’re typically the last of the budget bills to be passed off the floor.
 
Library Construction & Renovation – House Omnibus Bonding bill
 
House Capital Investment Chair, Rep. Mary Murphy, has advanced a robust bonding bill out of her committee. HF 2529 appropriates $1.5 billion in state bonding authority for many projects. As the chief library advocate in the legislature, Rep. Murphy has included $9 million in her omnibus bonding bill for the library construction and renovation grant program. She’s also upped the $200,000 limit on accessibility grants in the pool to $400,000. It’s unclear if HF 2529 will be taken up on the House floor.
 
The Senate has not advanced an omnibus bonding bill this session. Sen. Rich Draheim has introduced the MLA request for $10 million in library construction and renovation grants in SF 2725.
 
School Media Specialist Support – HF 247 & SF 2010
 
Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein, a licensed school library media specialist by day, helped advance the cause of getting more licensed school media specialists into Minnesota’s schools. Her HF 247 received a favorable review in the House Education Policy committee which sent it to House Education Finance. House Education Finance reviewed the bill as well, but it didn’t get included in their omnibus education finance bill.
 
Sen. Chuck Wiger introduced the companion bill, SF 2010, but it wasn’t heard in the Senate Education committee this session.
 
Net Neutrality – Omnibus House Jobs bill
 
HF 136 by Rep. Zach Stephenson is the net neutrality bill that would require state and public agencies to only enter into contracts with internet service providers abiding by net neutrality principles. HF 136 was merged into the House’s omnibus Jobs & Economic Development bill, HF 2208, which the House passed on April 24. These provisions await conference committee action.
 
The Senate has not heard the net neutrality bill this session, SF 317.
 
Hennepin County Library Director Statutory Change – HF 2097 & SF 2267
 
Legislation aimed at eliminating a statutory requirement for the Hennepin County Library Director to have a graduate degree from a graduate school accredited by the American Library Association has advanced in both the House and Senate. This legislation is traveling as a stand-alone bill and resides on both the House and Senate floors and awaits floor debate in each chamber.

Legislative Update

The following information was shared with the library community via the MLA and ITEM Legislative Update Newsletter Friday, March 12, 2019 by Sam Walseth, Capitol Hill Associates, in his role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

Third Committee Deadline and a Break:
 
After a jam-packed week of moving several major omnibus spending bills through the committee process the Legislature is leaving town for a needed Passover/Easter break. They return to business on Tuesday, April 23 and will have just over a month to find an agreement on a two-year operating budget before session ends on May 20. When they return most of the action will turn to the House and Senate floors where they will take up debate on the major spending bills, including Education, Health & Human Services, Transportation, Jobs, Energy, Agriculture and more.
 
Minnesota is the only state with a divided legislature and the partisan difference are on full display. The Senate GOP budget plan is in stark contrast to that of Governor Walz and his allies in the new House DFL majority. The DFL wants new gas tax revenue to pay for transportation projects. They want new corporate tax revenue to be generated through conformity to the federal tax code and they want the provider tax which supports the state’s health care access fund to continue. The Senate GOP thinks there’s enough revenue to work with and wants none of the DFL’s tax agenda. On policy matters, it’s the same story, from net neutrality, to gun safety measures, to paid family medical leave, the DFL is pushing a progressive policy agenda and the Senate GOP is saying no to those as well. How they put a budget deal together by May 20 is anyone’s guess.
 
There are several budget and policy items in the works of interest to the library community detailed below.
 
RLBSS & RLTA – Omnibus Education Bills
 
The House’s $900 million investment in education programs (HF 2400) includes a significant provision for regional library systems. At the request of the 12 regional public library systems, the House bill would adjust the distribution formula for Regional Library Basic System Support (RLBSS) and increase funding by $3.6 million in FY 2021 and $4 million in FY 2022 increase. The House bill also adds language to the Regional Library Telecommunications Aid (RLTA) to create more allowable uses for these funds.
 
The Senate education bill (SF 7) by contrast carries neither provision. The Senate education bill does add $500,000/year to the schools Telecom Equity Aid, bringing the amount to $4.25 million/year. The Senate bill removes the financial incentive for schools to participate in telecom clusters, which could make maintaining school district membership in a cluster more of a challenge.
 
Library Legacy – Omnibus Legacy Bills
               
House Legacy bill (HF 653) includes $2.5 million/year for the next two years for library legacy programming. The Senate Legacy bill (SF 836) includes $2.6 million/year for the next two years for library legacy.
 
The Senate Legacy committee heard a bill to fund $96,000 for libraries to buy telescopes and loan them out. Senate Legacy didn’t fund this request, but essentially added the $96,000 request (rounded up to $100,000) to the MLA request for $2.5 million/year.
 
We’re in good shape heading to conference committee on Legacy.
 
Library Construction & Renovation – House Omnibus Bonding bill
 
House Capital Investment Chair, Rep. Mary Murphy, has advanced a robust bonding bill out of her committee. HF 2529 appropriates $1.5 billion in state bonding authority for many projects. As the chief library advocate in the legislature, Rep. Murphy has included $9 million in her omnibus bonding bill for the library construction and renovation grant program. She’s also upped the $200,000 limit on accessibility grants in the pool to $400,000.
 
The Senate has not advanced an omnibus bonding bill this session. Sen. Rich Draheim has introduced the MLA request for $10 million in library construction and renovation grants in SF 2725.
 
School Media Specialist Support – HF 247 & SF 2010
 
Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein, a licensed school library media specialist by day, helped advance the cause of getting more licensed school media specialists into Minnesota’s schools. Her HF 247 received favorable review in the House Education Policy committee which sent it to House Education Finance. House Education Finance reviewed the bill as well, but it didn’t get included in their omnibus education finance bill.
 
Sen. Chuck Wiger introduced the companion bill, SF 2010, but it wasn’t heard in the Senate Education committee this session.
 
Net Neutrality – Omnibus House Jobs bill
 
HF 136 by Rep. Zach Stephenson is the net neutrality bill that would require state and public agencies to only enter into contracts with internet service providers abiding by net neutrality principals. HF 136 was merged into the House’s omnibus Jobs & Economic Development bill, HF 2208.
 
The Senate has not heard the net neutrality bill this session, SF 317.
 
Hennepin County Library Director Statutory Change – HF 2097 & SF 2267
 
Legislation aimed at eliminating a statutory requirement for the Hennepin County Library Director to have a graduate degree from a graduate school accredited by the American Library Association has advanced in both the House and Senate. This legislation is traveling as a stand-alone bill and resides on both the House and Senate floors and awaits floor debate in each chamber.

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: 

HF1282/SF1704
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.

Library Initiatives Move Forward at Capitol

MLA Legislative Chair Ann Hokanson sent a brief update. Our bills have been introduced in both chambers; they are HF1282 and SF1704. You can get more information on bill status, including authors, at https://www.leg.state.mn.us/. You can use the My Bills feature to track the bills easily.

HF1282/SF1704 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.

Hearing in Senate E-12 committee this Wednesday, March 6. This is an opportunity for members of the library community to testify as to the reasons the bill was introduced and an opportunity for Senators on the committee to ask questions. The hearing begins at 3pm and is in room 1100 in the MN Senate Building, just north of the Capitol, on the north side of University Avenue.

It is helpful to have supporters in the room for the hearing. Please join us if you can to show support, and ask library supporters to attend.  Attending is free; you simply come into the room, sit and listen to the proceedings, and then leave.

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.

Hearing in House Friday, March 8 8:30am to10am Education Policy Committee Meeting in State Office Building Room 5.

Again, we ask that you join us if you can to show support, and ask library supporters to attend.  Attending is free; you simply come into the room, sit and listen to the proceedings, and then leave.

Other important library issues are going forward, including afterschool programming funding, broadband, net neutrality, and LGA.
 

RLBSS Bill Introduced in Legislature

The following information was shared with the library community via the MLA and ITEM Legislative Update Newsletter Saturday, February 16, 2019 by Sam Walseth, Capitol Hill Associates, in his role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist. Additional information was added by SELCO Advocacy Consultant Jennifer Harveland on Monday evening, February 18.

Regional Library Basic System Support
 
HF1282 was introduced Monday at 3:30pm, chief authored by Rep. Mary Murphy. The bill will provide a $4 million annual increase over the current $13.57 million in regional library system support. The bill also amends the distribution formula to the 12 regional public systems to provide more stability in funding to each system.

Net Neutrality
 
Last week the House Commerce Committee reviewed HF 136, which is being referred to as the Net Neutrality bill. The legislation would require internet service providers contracting with the state of local government to abide by net neutrality principals. The legislation is opposed internet service providers, the Cable Association and other industry players, who will fight the bill throughout session. The companion bill, SF 317, doesn’t stand a chance to be heard in the Senate. The issue will likely be a point of negotiation between leadership during the conference committee process later in May.
 
Broadband
 
On Wednesday the House Greater Minnesota Jobs & Economic Development committee will hear an overview of the Border-to-Border broadband grant program. Those testifying include:
 

  • Office of Broadband Development, Department of Employment and Economic Development
  • Minnesota Telecom Alliance
  • Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition (MRBC)

 
The MRBC has asked for $70 million in new broadband funding. Governor Walz has signaled an interest in supporting $80 million for the fund. HF 7 and SF 9 are the MRBC backed bills we’re tracking this session.
 
Walz Budget due
 
At noon on Tuesday Governor Walz’s much anticipated two-year operating budget for state government services will be released. There have been no leaks that hint to what will be included in his budget plan. Stay tuned for more information on the Walz budget plan.

2019 Session Underway

The following information was shared with the library community via the MLA and ITEM Legislative Update Newsletter Monday, February 4, 2019 by Sam Walseth, Capitol Hill Associates, in his role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

The first month of the 2019 session is behind us. As expected, it’s been a slow (and cold) start to the new legislative cycle. The Walz-Flanagan transition is mostly settled- however, second tier agency posts (assistant and deputy commissioners) are still coming together. The new House DFL majority is starting to hum now that staff are settled into their new positions. The House and Senate committees have mostly been conducting overview hearings. A few marquee DFL-backed policy bills are set for their initial hearings this coming week in the House, including legislation on paid sick leave and wage theft prohibitions are on the docket.

The Senate is taking a slower approach as the GOP majority knows the DFL House and Governor Walz will ramp up an ambitious agenda this month and through session. The Senate also has a special session to fill the seat vacated by Tony Lourey (DFL-Kerrick) who took the reins as Commissioner of the Department of Human Services earlier in January. His son, Stu Lourey, is running to replace him in the special election set for Tuesday, February 5th. Rep. Jason Rarick (GOP-Pine City) is a formidable challenger for the Senate District 11 special election and the race is expected to be close. Senate District 11 spans Carleton and Pine Counties. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka is hoping to flip this seat and give his caucus a two seat majority, which would provide significant breathing room as they brace for the DFL’s agenda to land in their chamber.

Walz-Flanagan Budget Plan

One thing certain about the Walz-Flanagan operation; it’s a tight-lipped, no leak, operation. Walz’s time in D.C. and his core staff are exhibiting better habits around the ‘cone of silence’ than we’re used to in Minnesota level politics. The new Governor’s budget is due on February 19 and it’s unclear how he’s going to put forward the progressive agenda he campaigned on.

The state’s budget picture isn’t helping him either. The state’s fiscal consultant, IHS, has already signaled a lowering of future GDP figures that we’ll see in the February forecast. The $1.5 billion surplus for the next biennium (FY 20-21) may hold, but the tails projections (FY 22-23) that showed a mere $456 million surplus are expected to vanish at the end of the month when the updated forecast is released. There’s already speculation that the DFL will seek general fund revenue increases to pay for their hoped for education plans.

MLA-ITEM Agenda

Your lobbying team has been active in working our top funding priorities into position for the general fund budget debate ahead. Rep. Mary Murphy will champion our proposal to increase funding to the 12 regional public library systems. MLA is asking for a $4 million annual increase to Regional Library Basic System Support (RLBSS) and a formula distribution change that has been approved by the 12 regional library boards. We’re seeking the chief authorship support from another senator.

An emerging library advocate in the legislature is Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein (DFL New Brighton). Rep. Kunesh-Podein is a licensed school media specialist. She’s introduced HF 247 which would create an grant pool that schools could apply for to incentive them to hire more licensed school media specialists. We’ve also begun exploring authors for our Legacy and Capital Investment requests. Actual bill numbers for these various proposals are still weeks away as there is a significant amount of time to attain the appropriate permissions for drafting and ‘jacketing’ bills, getting them signed and then formally introduced.

The legislative committee process will heat up in March with the first policy deadline set for March 15. The more significant committee deadlines for MLA-ITEM’s legislative proposals are March 29 and April 12. The legislature will be gone on a Passover/Easter break from April 13 – 22. Session must end on May 20.