The following information was shared via email with the library community by Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates, in her role as MLA-ITEM lobbyist.
Education Conference Committee: The education conference committee met this week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for about 3 hours each day. The first meeting was spent having staff walk through the House and Senate bills. The second meeting featured the completion of the staff walk through of the bills, followed by testimony on facilities, Q-comp and testing. Yesterday’s meeting was devoted to hearing testimony on extended time revenue and early learning scholarships.
The committee will not meet again until Monday. Thus far the meetings have been quite cordial and low-key. Partly this reflects the personalities of the chairs, Senator Wiger and Rep. Loon, neither of whom has a penchant for drama. The other factor is that the tough decision-making won’t get serious until House and Senate leaders and Governor Dayton agree on a budget target for education. I do not expect that to happen until the middle of next week.
Legacy Bill: Last night the Senate passed its version of the omnibus Legacy bill by a vote of 44-9. In his remarks about the bill Senator Cohen acknowledged that two years ago when the Legacy bill was debated on the Senate floor, there was much concern expressed about the low level of funding for libraries, and that he had assured his fellow senators that it would be addressed in the conference committee, and it was. Senator Cohen then pointed out that this year the Senate Legacy bill provides more funding for libraries than the House bill does – the first time that has ever happened. It was great to see that the large number of e-mails you sent to your senators two years ago are still having an impact.
Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates