Legislative Update 2016-05-02

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

The Senate bonding bill (SF 2839) was released this morning, and it contains good news for libraries. Here are the specifics:

Library Construction Grants: The bill includes $2 million for the grants. There are no earmarks, so the entire $2 million would be available for competitive grants. $2 million was the amount included in the governor’s budget.

East Central Regional Library Headquarters and Cambridge Public Library: The bill includes $2.414 million for a new building. That was the amount requested by the city of Cambridge. This must be matched with an equal amount of funding from non-state sources.

Bagley Public Library: The bill includes $50,000 in general fund money for a grant to the city of Bagley for “improvements, furnishings and equipment for the city’s library or to reimburse the city for improvements, furnishings and equipment for the city’s library.” The language is a little unusual because the library project was completed two years ago. The 2014 bonding bill included $50,000 for the project, but the state later determined that this was an ineligible use of state bond funds and in 2015 the appropriation was canceled. That is why this year’s appropriation is from the general fund.

Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Wadena Campus: The bill includes $820,000 to relocate the current library to a new space and to convert the vacated space to a student services center. $820,000 was the amount included in the governor’s budget. This was the only higher education library project proposed this year.

East Side Freedom Library: The bill includes $500,000 from the general fund to renovate the former Arlington Hills Public Library in St. Paul, which recently became the home of the East Side Freedom Library. The library is operated by a nonprofit. Its mission “is to inspire solidarity, advocate for justice and work toward equity for all.”

The Senate bonding bill is even larger than had been rumored, spending a total of $1.8 billion. That is significantly larger than the $1.4 billion proposed by Governor Dayton and triple the amount that House leaders have said they want to spend. Even so, many requests were not funded at all or were funded well below the amount requested. Senator Leroy Stumpf, chair of the Senate Capital Investment Committee, said they received $5.2 billion in requests. The bill will be heard in the Senate Finance Committee tomorrow and then will head to the Senate floor.

Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates