MN Legislative Update 2015-02-14

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

Telecommunications Equity Aid (TEA) and Regional Library Telecommunications Aid (RLTA)

Our bill to increase TEA to $9.75 million per year and RLTA to $3.3 million per year will be introduced in the House on Thursday. We have a really excellent, bi-partisan group of authors. The chief author is Rep. Ron Kresha (R- Little Falls). Co-authors are Rep. Mary Murphy (DFL – Hermantown), Rep. Sondra Erickson (R – Princeton), Rep. Paul Marquart (DFL – Dilworth) and Rep. Dean Urdahl (R – Grove City).

As I reported last week, Senator Chuck Wiger has agreed to amend SF 78, his bill that increases funding for TEA, to include the increase for RLTA as well. Co-authors of SF 78 are Senator Alice Johnson (DFL – Spring Lake Park), Senator Matt Schmit (DFL – Red Wing), Senator Vicki Jensen (DFL – Owatonna) and Senator Greg Clausen (DFL – Apple Valley).

Senator Matt Schmit just yesterday introduced SF 437, a bill that provides a one-time increase to $9.75 million for TEA in FY 2016 and a one-time increase to $6.6 million for RLTA in FY 2016. Both appropriations are available until expended.

If any of the legislators listed above represent you (or your region), please contact them to thank them for supporting TEA and RLTA.

Regional Library Basic System Support (RLBSS) and Multitype Funding

Rep. Bud Nornes (R – Fergus Falls) has agreed to serve as chief author of our bill to increase funding for RLBSS and the Multi-types. Rep. Mary Murphy (DFL – Hermantown) and Rep. Sondra Erickson (R – Princeton) have signed on as co-authors. As I reported last week, our chief author in the Senate is Senator Tom Saxhaug (DFL – Grand Rapids). Co-authors to date are Senator LeRoy Stumpf (DFL – Plummer) and Senator Chuck Wiger (DFL – Maplewood). I am still hoping to recruit a Republican co-author who sits on the Senate E-12 Budget Division.

School Technology Bills: A number of bills on school technology have been introduced. Here is a quick rundown:

  • SF 18, introduced by Senator Chuck Wiger, establishes special technology revenue, which can be used for the purchase or lease of telecommunications equipment, computers and related hardware and software, assistive technology and new and replacement library media resources or technology.
  • SF 20, also introduced by Senator Chuck Wiger, reserves future growth in the school endowment fund for school technology and telecommunications.
  • SF 45, also introduced by Senator Chuck Wiger, increases total operating capital revenue and reserves the increase for the same purposes listed in SF 18 (see above) as well as for the purchase of electronic textbooks.
  • SF 145, introduced by Senator Matt Schmitt, directs the Commissioner of Education to research existing programs to determine best practices for schools implementing 1:1 device programs and then to issue guidelines for schools.
  • None of the bills listed above have been introduced in the House. 

Border to Border Broadband

Senator Matt Schmit has introduced two bills on broadband. SF 438 funds the general operations of the Office of Broadband Development and provides a separate appropriation for statewide broadband availability mapping and data collection. SF 439 appropriates $100 million to fund broadband grants. The House companion to SF 439, HF 556, was introduced by Rep. Sheldon Johnson (DFL – St. Paul).

Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates