MN Legislative Update 2015-02-23

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

House Education Finance Hearing: On Thursday, February 19, the House Education Finance committee heard two bills initiated by MLA/ITEM. Both bills were well-received by the committee.

The first bill to be heard was HF 583, authored by Rep. Ron Kresha (R – Little Falls), which increases funding for Telecommunications Equity Aid (TEA) and Regional Library Telecommunications Aid (RLTA). Mary Mehsikomer of TIES (and president of ITEM) and Marc Johnson of ECMECC testified in support of the increase for TEA, and did an outstanding job. I testified in support of the increase for RLTA. Denise Dittrich, lobbyist for the Minnesota School Boards Association, also testified in favor of the bill. HF 583 was laid over for possible inclusion in the omnibus education finance bill.

The second bill to be heard was HF 569, authored by Rep. Bud Nornes (R – Fergus Falls), which increases funding for RLBSS and the Multi-types. I testified briefly, followed by more extensive testimony by Ann Hutton of SELCO in support of the RLBSS increase and Kathy Enger of NLLN in support of the funding increase for the Multi-types. Both did an excellent job. HF 569 was laid over for possible inclusion in the omnibus education finance bill.

Bill Introductions: Since my last update, the following bills of interest have been introduced:

  • SF 832, a bill increasing RLBSS and Multi-type funding, was introduced by Senator Tom Saxhaug (DFL – Grand Rapids). Co-authors are Senator Chuck Wiger (DFL – Maplewood), Senator Vicky Jensen (DFL Owatonna), Senator LeRoy Stumpf (DFL – Plummer) and Senator Bill Weber (R – Luverne). This bill is the companion to HF 569, referenced above.
  • SF 853, a bill appropriating $100,000 per year to the department of Administration so that the Information Policy and Analysis Division (IPAD) can provide training and technical assistance the local units of government on implementing data privacy laws, was introduced by Senator Kari Dziedzic (DFL – Minneapolis).
  • Rep. Drew Christensen (R – Burnsville) introduced the companion bills to several bills on school technology that were introduced early in the session by Senator Chuck Wiger (DFL – Maplewood). See my February 3 update for detailed descriptions. The bills introduced by Rep. Christensen include:
  • HF 856 (companion to SF 18) 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.
  • HF 854 (companion to SF 45) increases total operating capital and reserves the increase for the same purposes as those listed in HF 856 as well as for the purchase of electronic textbooks.
  • HF 838 (companion to SF 78) increases TEA funding to $9.75 million per year.

February Forecast: The next state economic forecast will be released on Friday, February 27. It is widely anticipated that the new forecast will project that the state’s budget surplus will be larger than the $1 billion surplus that was projected in December. Soon after the new forecast is released, Governor Dayton is expected to release his supplemental budget recommendations.

Elaine Keefe
Capitol Hill Associates