Legislative Update 2015-05-20

The following information was shared via email with the library community by Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates, in her role as MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

Session Ends: Last night at midnight, the Legislature adjourned as required by the constitution. However, there will be a special session to pass an education bill, a legacy bill and possibly other bills as well.

Education Bill Veto: Attached is Governor Dayton’s veto message regarding the education bill. In a press conference this afternoon, the governor described the last-minute negotiations on the education bill yesterday. He offered to sign the bill if legislators would add $125 million — $55 million for School Readiness and the rest to increase the general education formula by 2% each year (the bill passed by the Legislature increased the formula by 1.5% in FY 16 and by 2% in FY 17). House Republicans would not agree to add more than $100 million, so negotiations collapsed.

Governor Dayton will call a special session, but not until there is an agreement signed by the leaders of all four caucuses specifying exactly what will be acted upon during the special session. Governor Dayton said he would prefer to wrap it up by June 1, because by law, that is the date that layoff notices must be sent to state employees whose agencies are not funded. The Capitol is not available for the special session due to the renovations taking place, so the special session will have to take place at another venue. It must be in St. Paul.

Legacy Bill: The legacy bill passed the House last night, but did not pass the Senate. This was not because of any controversy over the bill – they simply ran out of time before the midnight adjournment deadline. Governor Dayton indicated that he thinks it is very important that the legacy bill pass in the special session. There was one change made to legacy funding for the regional library systems at the last minute – rather than $1.7 million in FY 16 and $2.7 million in FY 17, the final bill provides $2.2 million in each year. The funding is the same overall. Funding for the Minnesota Digital Library remains at $300,000 per year.

Broadband: The omnibus jobs and economic development conference committee had great difficulty in reaching agreement. They ultimately settled on a bare-bones bill that passed just seconds before the session ended. It provides $10.838 million for broadband grants in FY 16 only. This is down from the $20 million provided last year and the $30 million proposed by Governor Dayton.

Seed Library Exemption: The omnibus agriculture policy bill, HF 1554, includes an exemption from seed regulations for “interpersonal sharing of seed for home, educational, charitable or personal non-commercial use.” The bill was presented to the governor on May 15, which means that he has until midnight on Tuesday to sign or veto it. I fully expect him to sign the bill. It passed the House 102-25 and passed the Senate 64-0.

Student Information: In my previous description of the omnibus education bill, I neglected to mention that the provision initiated by the St. Paul Public Schools to conform Minnesota’s data privacy law to federal law with respect to students records is included in the bill. This will allow school districts to share students addresses with their local public library for the purpose of obtaining library cards for all students without having to make the addresses public.

Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates

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