MDE Legislative Update

The following message from Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) Assistant Commissioner Kevin McHenry was shared with the Minnesota Library Association through its Legislative Chair, Jim Weikum at ALS. It describes MDE  technical and policy initiatives for the 2014 legislative session.

We submitted a technical proposal to amend Minnesota Statutes, section 134.355 Subd. 8, Regional Library Telecommunications Aid, to allow exceptions to the 20-hour per week eligibility requirement. Permitting exceptions for one-time, limited duration situations such as a building closure as a result of natural disaster, or to allow for adjustments to open hours in response to seasonal usage patterns fits with the intent of the legislation while allowing maximum eligibility.

A second technical proposal was submitted to clarify the formula for establishing the state-certified level of library support (maintenance of effort) for counties and cities that provide operating dollars for library services. Currently Minnesota Statutes, section 134.34 does not contain a cross reference to the statutory change made in 2011 through Minnesota Statutes, section 275.761. This creates a significant amount of confusion when communicating with stakeholders about the statutory requirements. Currently, someone reading the statutes has no way of knowing that the provisions of 134.34 have been superseded. While I understand that the library community is interested in pursuing a return to the prior formula, there is a need to ensure that statutes accurately reflect the current requirements.

Finally, we submitted a policy proposal to establish a task force on libraries and service delivery. MDE has had some great success in advancing and promoting issues using task forces. I want to make sure that we are highlighting the work of libraries, particularly in light of recent news articles questioning relevancy. With emerging issues that need to be addressed, such as e-books, a task force can be a catalyst for promoting ideas to work with multiple levels of governance and a positive step forward. There is great energy and enthusiasm within libraries and I would like to see that communicated to a wide audience.

I encourage you to contact me directly if you’d like to discuss any of these proposals. I appreciate any feedback you have to offer. Email Kevin McHenry, Assistant Commissioner, or call 651-582-8250.

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