MN Legislative Update 2015-03-09

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

Library Legislative Day: Thank you to everyone who turned out for Library Legislative Day last week in spite of the snowstorm. The feedback from meetings that attendees had with their legislators was very positive.

Seed Library: SF 949, a bill providing an exemption from current seed regulations so that the Duluth Public Library can continue to operate its seed library was heard on Wednesday, March 4 in the Senate Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development Committee. Carla Powers, director of the Duluth Public Library, testified in favor of the bill. Minnesota Department of Agriculture supports the bill. It was laid over for possible inclusion in the omnibus agriculture policy bill.

Data Privacy: SF 337, a bill to conform Minnesota’s data privacy law regarding student records to recent changes in the Federal Educational Records Privacy Act (FERPA) passed the Senate on Thursday by a vote of 62-0. The bill was initiated by the St. Paul Public Schools to enable them to share student addresses with the St. Paul Public Library so that every student can be issued a library card at school. Without this legislation, the school district could only share student addresses with the public library if the district classified the addresses as public information. The House companion, HF 424, was passed by the House Education Innovation Policy Committee and was re-referred to the House Civil Law and Data Practices Committee.

School Technology Hearing: On Wednesday, March 11 the House Education Finance Committee will hear a presentation on school technology organized by the Minnesota School Boards Association, similar to the one heard by the Senate E-12 Budget Division on January 20. Three bills are also listed on the agenda to be heard on an informational basis. All three are authored by Rep. Drew Christensen:

  • HF 838 increases funding for Telecommunications Equity Aid (TEA) by $6 million per year. Note: This committee has already heard HF 583, which increases funding for both TEA and Regional Library Telecommunications Aid (RLTA).
  • HF 856 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 increases total operating capital revenue and reserves the increase for the same purposes listed in HF 856 (see above) as well as for the purchase of electronic textbooks.

Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates