Legislative Update 2015-05-20

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

Session Ends: Last night at midnight, the Legislature adjourned as required by the constitution. However, there will be a special session to pass an education bill, a legacy bill and possibly other bills as well.

Education Bill Veto: Attached is Governor Dayton’s veto message regarding the education bill. In a press conference this afternoon, the governor described the last-minute negotiations on the education bill yesterday. He offered to sign the bill if legislators would add $125 million — $55 million for School Readiness and the rest to increase the general education formula by 2% each year (the bill passed by the Legislature increased the formula by 1.5% in FY 16 and by 2% in FY 17). House Republicans would not agree to add more than $100 million, so negotiations collapsed.

Governor Dayton will call a special session, but not until there is an agreement signed by the leaders of all four caucuses specifying exactly what will be acted upon during the special session. Governor Dayton said he would prefer to wrap it up by June 1, because by law, that is the date that layoff notices must be sent to state employees whose agencies are not funded. The Capitol is not available for the special session due to the renovations taking place, so the special session will have to take place at another venue. It must be in St. Paul.

Legacy Bill: The legacy bill passed the House last night, but did not pass the Senate. This was not because of any controversy over the bill – they simply ran out of time before the midnight adjournment deadline. Governor Dayton indicated that he thinks it is very important that the legacy bill pass in the special session. There was one change made to legacy funding for the regional library systems at the last minute – rather than $1.7 million in FY 16 and $2.7 million in FY 17, the final bill provides $2.2 million in each year. The funding is the same overall. Funding for the Minnesota Digital Library remains at $300,000 per year.

Broadband: The omnibus jobs and economic development conference committee had great difficulty in reaching agreement. They ultimately settled on a bare-bones bill that passed just seconds before the session ended. It provides $10.838 million for broadband grants in FY 16 only. This is down from the $20 million provided last year and the $30 million proposed by Governor Dayton.

Seed Library Exemption: The omnibus agriculture policy bill, HF 1554, includes an exemption from seed regulations for “interpersonal sharing of seed for home, educational, charitable or personal non-commercial use.” The bill was presented to the governor on May 15, which means that he has until midnight on Tuesday to sign or veto it. I fully expect him to sign the bill. It passed the House 102-25 and passed the Senate 64-0.

Student Information: In my previous description of the omnibus education bill, I neglected to mention that the provision initiated by the St. Paul Public Schools to conform Minnesota’s data privacy law to federal law with respect to students records is included in the bill. This will allow school districts to share students addresses with their local public library for the purpose of obtaining library cards for all students without having to make the addresses public.

Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates

MN Legislative Update 2015-05-18

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

It has been a wild weekend at the Capitol, featuring round the clock negotiations and plenty of brinkmanship. Legislators are racing to get the major budget bills passed before midnight on Monday. Here is the status of the major budget bills and the library issues within them:

E-12 EDUCATION: Early Friday afternoon House Speaker Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Bakk announced to the media that they had reached an agreement on budget targets. Significantly, Governor Dayton did not appear with them. On Saturday morning the Governor announced that he did not agree with the $400 million target set by Bakk and Daudt for increased funding for education. Dayton said that he would veto any bill providing less than $550 million, with at least $173 million for expanding school-based preschool for all 4 year olds. Despite the veto threat, Bakk and Daudt directed the education conferees to proceed with negotiating a $400 million bill.

The conference committee put in long hours and finally met in public to unveil their agreement at 1am Sunday morning, wrapping up the meeting at 3am. Here are the major components of the bill:

General Education Formula: The general education formula will increase by 1.5% in FY 16 and by 2% in FY 17. This is the main source of funding for school library media programs. 72% of the $400 million went for this increase in the general education formula.

Early Learning: The competition between supporters of early learning scholarships and those of school-based preschool programs was at times tense. In the end, legislators decided to increase the scholarships by $30.75 million over the next 2 years and to increase School Readiness (a school-based program for at-risk children) by the same amount. The bill also includes $3.5 million for the Parent Aware early childhood rating system. This ate up another 17% of the $400 million. They did not include Governor Dayton’s proposal for preschool for all 4 year olds, which may cause the bill to be vetoed.

School Facilities: The bill includes $32 million for facilities maintenance. Funding for facilities maintenance was the top priority of rural schools.

As you can tell, these major components left almost nothing for other initiatives. As a result, the bill includes no additional funding for libraries, telecommunications equity aid or after school programs.

The bill does include the language aligning Regional Library Telecommunications Aid with the federal e-rate program. It also repeals the requirement that schools have a technology plan on file with MDE in order to be eligible for Telecommunications Equity Aid.

What if the bill is vetoed? If the Governor vetoes the bill, the usual scenario would be for the Governor and legislative leaders to negotiate a new bill and then for the Governor to call a special session to pass the bill. However, the renovation of the Capitol calls for the House and Senate chambers and all offices in the Capitol to be shut down on Tuesday, May 19. Legislators have been warned that a delay to accommodate a special session would be very costly. There has been speculation that an education bill is not needed because the general education formula would continue to be paid to schools without passing an education bill. However, all other streams of funding would cease, including library appropriations. In a memo to the media, Commissioner Cassellius pointed out that even schools would not get their money because MDE would have no budget to pay staff to process payments.

HIGHER EDUCATION: The higher education conference committee reached agreement on its bill last night, and the bill just passed on the Senate floor by a vote of 57-8. It will next go to the House for passage. The bill maintains current funding for Minitex and MnLINK. It increases funding for the University of Minnesota by $53.2 million and for MnSCU by $101.4 million.

LEGACY: The Legacy conference committee convened shortly after midnight on Saturday night /Sunday morning. The arts and cultural heritage article was discussed first. As initially presented, it included the House position on funding for regional public libraries of $1.5 million in FY 16 and $2.5 million in FY 17. After a brief recess, the conferees returned and Senator Cohen said that the one area that made him “a little queasy” was library funding, and he moved to add $200,000 per year to the appropriation. It passed unanimously. The final number is $1.7 million in FY 16 and $2.7 million in FY 17. Thank you to all of you who contacted the conferees. I do think it made a difference.

The Legacy bill also includes $300,000 per year for the Minnesota Digital Library. That is the same as the current level of funding for MDL.

TAXES: The agreement between Speaker Daudt and Majority Leader Bakk is that there will be no tax bill this year. House Republicans had wanted more than $2 billion in tax cuts. In return, Senate DFLers agreed to pass only a “lights on” transportation bill, rather than the comprehensive funding bill that had been their top priority. The agreement leaves about $1.4 billion on the bottom line for legislators to use next year for tax cuts and a transportation package.

Governor Dayton is scheduled to hold a press conference later today. I will keep you posted if anything major changes.

Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates

Legislative Alert – More Legacy Action Needed

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

Our latest intelligence indicates that the Senate has offered to accept the House position on Legacy funding for regional public libraries.  This would mean that libraries would receive $4 million over the next two years, as compared to $6 million during the current two-year budget period.  If you have not already done so, please contact the members of the conference committee listed below. 

In addition:  Please contact your Senator and ask him or her to urge Senator Cohen to uphold the Senate position on Legacy funding for libraries.  The House position is UNACCEPTABLE.  Your senator will likely assume that Senator Cohen will be fighting to uphold the Senate position, but we have strong reason to believe that Senator Cohen has said privately that he prefers the House position.

Please contact your House member and urge him or her to urge Rep. Urdahl to move to the Senate position on Legacy funding for libraries.  The Senate position is still $50,000 per year below current funding, but is substantially better than the House position.

Library Legacy Alert: MN Legislative Update 2015-05-11

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

This afternoon the Legacy conference committee was appointed. The ten members of the conference committee will negotiate the differences between the House and Senate Legacy bills over the next few days.

The Senate bill provides $2.95 million per year for regional public libraries. The House bill provides $1.5 million in FY 16 and $2.5 million in FY 17.

lease contact the conferees and ask them to support the Senate level of Legacy funding for libraries!

The conferees are listed below with their contact information:

Rep. Dean Urdahl (R – Grove City)
rep.dean.urdahl@house.mn
651-296-4344 or 800-920-5861

Rep. Denny McNamara (R – Hastings)
rep.denny.mcnamara@house.mn
651-296-3135

Rep. Paul Torkelson (R – Hanska)
rep.paul.torkelson@house.mn
651-296-9303 or 888-727-3891

Rep. Josh Heintzeman (R-Nisswa)
rep.josh.heintzeman@house.mn
651-296-4333

Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL – Minneapolis)
rep.phyllis.kahn@house.mn
651-296-4257

Senator Dick Cohen (DFL – St. Paul)
www.senate.mn/senatorcohenemail
651-296-5931

Senator Bev Scalze (DFL – Little Canada)
sen.bev.scalze@senate.mn
651-296-5537

Senator LeRoy Stumpf (DFL – Plummer)
www.senate.mn/senatorstumpfemail
651-296-8660

Senator Katie Sieben (DFL – Newport)
www.senate.mn/senatorsiebenemail
651-297-8060

Senator Michelle Fischbach (R – Paynesville)
sen.michelle.fischbach@senate.mn
651-296-2084

Elaine KeefeCapitol Hill Associates

MN Legislative Update 2015-05-08

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

NLLD 2015

Vote for Libraries buttonNational Library Legislative Day (NLLD) is a two-day advocacy event sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) where hundreds of library supporters, leaders and patrons gather in Washington, D.C. to meet with their members of Congress to champion national library funding.  Attending from Minnesota were: Jim Weikum, Arrowhead Library System (ALS), Pat Conley, recently of Washington County Library, and Carol Walch, Minnesota Department of Employee Relations and Friend of the St. Paul Public Library.

ALA provides detailed in-person and printed information to NLLD participants and the State Library Services created Minnesota specific info for the library delegation to share with Members of Congress.

National Library Legislative Day also includes a virtual advocacy component for library supporters who cannot attend the Washington meetings—advocates have the option to work remotely to connect with legislators via phone calls, text messages, emails and social media platforms.

MN Legislative Update 2015-05-05

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

The Legislature must adjourn on midnight on Monday, May 18, just under two weeks from now. Here is the latest news:

Senate Legacy Bill: Yesterday the Senate’s omnibus Legacy bill was unveiled and passed out of the Legacy Subcommittee. The bill appropriates 2.95 million per year for regional public libraries. This is $50,000 less per year than the current appropriation from Legacy funds, but it is far better than the House Legacy appropriation of $1.5 million in FY 16 and $2.5 million in FY 17. The Senate bill allocates $300,00 per year for the Minnesota Digital Library, which is the current level of funding. The House Legacy bill provides $280,000 per year for MDL. The Senate Legacy bill will be heard in the full Senate Finance Committee later today, where it is expected to be passed and sent to the Senate floor.

Education Conference Committee: The education conference committee will meet for the first time this afternoon. Typically the first meeting consists of a walk-through of the side-by-side comparison of the House and Senate bills. You can find the side-by-side comparison for each article of the education bill here.

Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates

MN Legislative Update 2015-04-30

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

Legacy Bill: This afternoon the House passed its omnibus Legacy bill, HF 303, on the floor by a vote of 97-31 . No amendments were proposed to the Arts and Cultural Heritage article of the bill. When Rep. Dean Urdahl described the bill at the beginning of the debate he once again emphasized that there were no cuts in the bill because there is no such thing in Legacy. The Senate Legacy bill is expected to be released next week.

Omnibus Education Finance and Policy Bills: Yesterday the Senate passed its omnibus education finance bill and its omnibus education policy bill on the floor. Last Saturday the House passed its omnibus education finance and policy bill (finance and policy are combined in a single bill).

The House appointed its conferees this afternoon. They are Rep. Jenifer Loon (R – Eden Prairie), Rep. Sondra Erickson (R – Princeton), Rep. Ron Kresha (R – Little Falls), Rep. Bob Dettmer (R- Forest Lake) and Rep. Roz Peterson (R – Lakeville). Senate conferees are expected to be named tomorrow. I will send out an alert with contact information for the conferees once they have all been named.

Here is a rundown of the key issues for libraries in these bills:

Regional Library Basic System Support (RLBSS): The Senate provides an increase of $1.5 million per year. Because of the 90%/10% payment schedule, the actual amount of the increase will be $1.35 million in FY 16 and $1.5 million in FY 17 and beyond. The Senate also changes the RLBSS formula by reducing the ANTC portion from 25% to 17% and by increasing the base amount from 5% to 13%. The funding increase ensures that every regional library system receives an increase under the new formula. The House has no increase and no formula change.

Regional Library Telecommunications Aid (RLTA): Both the House and Senate bills include nearly identical language to more closely align RLTA with the federal e-rate program.

Telecommunications Equity Aid (TEA): The Senate increases funding for TEA by $1.5 million per year for the 16-17 biennium only. The House provides no increase.

School Technology: The Senate requires school districts to reserve future increases in revenue from the School Endowment Fund for technology and telecommunications infrastructure, programs and training.

After School: The Senate provides $500,000 per year in the 16-17 biennium only for after school programs. The House provides no funding.

Omnibus Tax Bills: The House passed its omnibus tax bill on the floor yesterday. The provisions I reported on in my April 22 update remained unchanged. The Senate released its omnibus tax bill on Monday and passed it out of committee yesterday. It will be brought up on the Senate floor on Monday. Here are the provisions in the bill of interest to libraries:

Local Government Aid is increased by $21.5 million in FY 17 (payable in calendar year 2016) and by $45.6 million per year in FY 2018 and beyond. LGA will be paid to cities in four installments rather than in two. The new payments dates are March 15, July 15, September 15 and November 15.

County Program Aid is increased by $25 million in FY 17 (payable in calendar year 2016) and by $29.7 million per year in FY 2018 and beyond.

Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates

MN Legislative Update 2015-04-21

 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 Legacy Bill: Yesterday the House Legacy Committee competed work on its omnibus bill and passed it out of committee. Rep. Dean Urdahl, chair of the committee, made it very clear in his opening remarks that no group was entitled to any particular amount of Legacy funding, regardless of what they had received in the past. As such, there is no such thing as a “cut” in Legacy funds. We all start out at zero for the biennium, and the amounts we receive will fluctuate – sometimes they will be higher and sometimes they will be lower than in the past. He said that some groups needed an “attitude adjustment.”

I spoke with Rep. Urdahl today and he expressed annoyance at the number of e-mails he had received about the level of library funding in the bill. I assured him that his message was loud and clear and that I would convey it to the library community. I also thanked him for including funding for libraries in his bill, acknowledging that he has long been a strong library supporter.

So, thank you to those of you who contacted your legislators and members of the House Legacy Committee. However, we need to stop complaining about the level of funding provided in the House Legacy bill.

Broadband: I reported last Thursday that the House was providing no new funding for broadband grants, while the Senate had $17 million in its budget and the Governor had $30 million in his budget proposal. However, on Friday when the omnibus jobs and energy bill was heard in the House Ways and Means Committee, $8 million was added for broadband grants. Funding for the Office of Broadband, which had been eliminated in the bill, was partially restored.

Library Construction Grants: Today I met with Rep. Jeff Howe (R – Rockville), a member of the House Capital Investment Committee. He agreed to introduce our bill to provide $10 million for Library Construction Grants. The bill is intended to put Library Construction Grants under consideration for inclusion in the 2016 bonding bill. We need to have it introduced this session so that it is on the radar of the House and Senate Capital Investment Committees as they tour the state this fall to look at proposed capital projects.

House Omnibus Tax Bill: Today the House Tax Committee passed its omnibus tax bill. Yesterday the committee took public testimony. The bill makes deep cuts in local government aid for Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth, but not for any other cities. Among the witnesses in opposition to these cuts were Kit Hadley, director of the St. Paul Public Library, and two branch managers. They spoke very eloquently about the impact these cuts would have on library services in St. Paul.

Other provisions of interest in the bill are as follows:

A sales tax exemption for building materials purchased by a contractor under a lump sum contract for buildings used by local governments. This was strongly supported by cities and counties.

An expansion of the current K-12 education expense subtraction to include pre-K expenses and private school tuition. The inclusion of private school tuition was strongly opposed by various school organizations.

A Property Tax Payers’ Empowerment Act, which allows a reverse referendum if a city or county increases its property tax levy over the previous year. The referendum is triggered if a petition signed by 10% of the voters in the last general election is filed by June 30. The referendum must be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. This was opposed by cities and counties.

A working group to make recommendations on revising the county program aid distribution formula.

Repeal of library debt service aid for Minneapolis.

Data Practices Training for Local Units of Government: The Senate omnibus state government funding bill passed on the Senate floor yesterday. It includes $100,000 in each year of the biennium for the Department of Administration’s Information and Policy Analysis Division, commonly known as IPAD, to conduct training for local units of government on data practices laws. This was initiated by the League of Minnesota Cities. The funding is not included in the House omnibus state government funding bill.

Mn Legislative Update 2015-04-14

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

Today the House and Senate omnibus education and higher education bills were released. Most library appropriations remained at current levels. Here are the items where changes were proposed:

Regional Library Basic System Support (RLBSS): The Senate education bill increases RLBSS to $14.92 million in FY 2016 (an increase of $1.35 million) and to $15.070 million in FY 2017 and future years (an increase of $1.5 million). The total increase for the biennium is $2.85 million. The RLBSS formula is modified by increasing the base from 5% to 13% and by decreasing the equalization component from 25% to 17%. The House makes no change in RLBSS, so this will be an item of difference in the conference committee.

Telecommunications Equity Aid (TEA): The Senate education bill increases funding for TEA to $5.25 million per year, an increase of $1.5 million per year. The House provides no increase for TEA, so this will be an item of difference in the conference committee.

General Education Formula: The House provides an increase of 0.6% in each year of the biennium, while the Senate provides an increase of 1% per year. The general education formula is the primary source of funding for school library media programs.

MnSCU and the University of Minnesota: There are no general operating increases proposed for either MnSCU or the U of M. The Senate higher education bill includes funding for student tuition relief for both systems, while the House bill provides such funding only for MnSCU.

The committees will take testimony and consider amendments to their omnibus bills this week. The bills will be passed out of their respective committees no later than Thursday evening.

MLA opposes statutory changes to regional hiring

A Minnesota Library Association (MLA) has delivered a  letter to legislative leaders opposing an change to the statutes regarding the hiring of regional public library system directors as proposed by Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE).

While the library community understands that this provision tries to address the issues  outlined in the recent  administrative, organizational, and fiscal review of Plum Creek Library System (PCLS),  CRPLSA does not believe this change will prevent future administrative weakness.   The State Auditor has traditionally been the agency to inform local governments of changes oversight while allowing for the greatest level of local authority.

MN Legislative Update 2015-04-09

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

Legislative Calendar: On Tuesday legislators returned from their Passover/Easter break. Next week many budget committees will be releasing their omnibus budget bills. The Senate E-12 Education Budget Division will release its omnibus budget bill online next Tuesday. They will take public testimony on Wednesday and then will consider amendments and pass the bill out of committee on Thursday. The House Education Finance Committee has not yet announced when its omnibus bill will be released. There is a great deal of work to be done before the May 18 adjournment deadline.

Budget Targets: Before leaving for the Passover/Easter break, House and Senate leaders announced their budget targets. The education community was shocked and deeply disappointed at the very low targets for education, particularly in the context of a state budget surplus of nearly $1.9 billion. The House has allocated just $157 million in new funding for education over the next two years. The Senate has allocated $350 million. This is in contrast to Governor Dayton’s proposal to spend an additional $694 million on education. The House and Senate targets will make it very difficult to obtain funding increases for libraries, despite the positive reception our bills received when they were heard in committee.

Senate Legacy Hearing: On Monday, April 13 at 6pm the Senate Legacy Subcommittee will be taking testimony on the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Ann Hutton and Melinda Ludwiczak will present our request for regional public libraries. The hearing will take place in Room 15 of the Capitol.

Governor’s Bonding Proposal: This week Governor Dayton released his bonding proposal, which totals $842 million. It includes $2 million for Library Construction Grants. This is the first time funding for this program has been included in a governor’s proposal. The likelihood of a bonding bill of that size is very slim. Traditionally the Legislature passes a fairly small bonding bill in the odd-numbered year session and a much larger bill in the even-numbered year. House Republicans have said they have no interest in passing any bonding bill this year. However, they have left open the possibility that they could agree to a small bill as part of the end-of-session negotiations.

Regional Library Telecommunications Aid (RLTA): The governor’s supplemental education budget bill was made public on Tuesday. It includes some changes to the eligible uses of RLTA to more closely align it with the federal e-rate program. The CRPLSA RLTA Committee reviewed the language and suggested two clarifying changes. MDE has agreed to one of them and is considering the other. Last night the House Education Finance Committee took testimony on the governor’s supplemental budget. I testified about that we support the new language on RLTA but were working with MDE on a couple of tweaks to it. I also expressed disappointment that there is no new money for libraries in the governor’s budget and urged the committee to consider including Rep. Nornes’ bill to increase funding for RLBSS and multi-type funding and Rep. Kresha’s bill to increase funding for TEA and RLTA as they put together their omnibus education funding bill.

State of the State: Governor Dayton will deliver his state of the state address tonight at 7pm before a joint session of the Legislature. The address will be live-streamed on many websites, including the House of Representatives website, the StarTribune, the Pioneer Press and MPR and affiliates. The address will also be broadcast live on MPR.

Elaine KeefeCapitol Hill Associates

MN Legislative Update 2015-03-23

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 Legacy Hearing Today at 12:30pm:  Today Ann Hutton, SELCO, and Melinda Ludwiczak, MELSA, will present our request for Legacy funding for the regional public library systems to be increased to $4.25 million per year.  Please note that the time of the hearing is 12:30pm rather than the usual 12:45pm start time.  The hearing is in the Basement Hearing Room of the State Office Building.

Regional Public Library and Multi-type Funding Bill:  SF 832, our bill increasing Regional Library Basic System Support (RLBSS) by $5 million per year and increasing funding for the Multi-types by $1.3 million per year was heard this morning in the Senate E-12 Budget Division.  The bill was added to this morning’s agenda on Friday afternoon, so we had to scramble to line up witnesses and provide handouts to the committee staff by the close of business on Friday.  Barb Misselt testified on the RLBSS increase and Ann Walker Smalley testified on the multi-type increase.  Many thanks to both of them for agreeing to testify on such short notice. The bill was laid over for possible inclusion in the omnibus E-12 budget bill.

RLBSS Formula Change Bill:  SF 1675, the bill changing the RLBSS distribution formula and increasing RLBSS by $5 million per year, was also heard this morning in the Senate E-12 Budget Division.  Ann Hutton testified in support of the bill.  It was laid over for possible inclusion in the omnibus E-12 budget bill.

Omnibus Education Policy Bill (HF 1591/SF 1495): The House Education Innovation Policy Committee passed its version of the omnibus education policy bill on Thursday and referred it to the House Education Finance Committee, where it is scheduled to be heard tomorrow.  The Senate Education Committee passed its version of the omnibus education policy bill on Friday.  The bill includes the language from SF 337 conforming Minnesota law to federal law on the privacy of student educational records.  This was initiated by the St. Paul Schools to enable them to share student addresses with the St. Paul Public Library for the purpose of issuing public library cards to students.

Seed Library: The House omnibus agriculture policy bill, HF 1544, includes a provision exempting “interpersonal sharing of seed for home, educational, charitable or personal non-commercial use” from seed laws.  This will allow the Duluth Public Library to continue to operate its seed library.  The bill passed out of the House Agriculture Policy Committee last week. The Senate version of the bill will be taken up in committee this week.  It is expected to contain a similar provision.

Elaine Keefe
Capitol Hill Associates

MN Legislative Update 2015-03-17

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

State Budget: Today Governor Dayton released his supplemental budget recommendations. The single largest item is $235 million for universal preschool for all 4 year olds. The budget also includes $142 million for a tuition freeze for MnSCU and $32,600 for a tuition freeze for the U of M. Here is a link to the budget document.

The House Ways and Means Committee will adopt budget targets on Tuesday, March 24. The Senate will release its budget targets by Friday, March 27.

House Omnibus Education Policy Bill (HF 1591): The House omnibus education policy bill was released last night and heard in committee this morning. It includes the repeal of the requirement that districts have a technology plan on file with MDE in order to be eligible for Telecommunications Equity Aid. It also requires that the governing board of a regional library system employ a chief administrative officer who is compensated by no more than one regional library system. This is a modified version of the provision in the MDE policy bill requiring that the governing board of a regional library system employ a full-time chief administrative officer. On Thursday the House Education Innovation Policy Committee will consider amendments to the bill before passing it out of committee.

Senate Omnibus Education Policy Bill (SF 1495): The Senate omnibus education policy bill was released this afternoon. It includes the repeal of the requirement that districts have a technology plan on file with MDE in order to be eligible for Telecommunications Equity Aid. On Thursday the Senate Education Committee will consider amendments to the bill before passing it out of committee.

House Legacy Hearing: On Monday, March 23 the House Legacy Committee will hear our request to increase funding for the regional public library systems. Ann Hutton and Melinda Ludwiczak will testify. The hearing starts at 12:45 pm in the Basement Hearing Room of the State Office Building.

Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates

MN Legislative Update 2015-03-16

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

MDE Education Policy Bill: Last week the MDE education policy bill, HF 1591/SF 1495, was heard in committee in both bodies. The bill includes two provisions of interest. The first repeals the requirement that school districts have a technology plan on file with MDE in order to be eligible for telecommunications equity aid. The second requires that the governing board of a regional public library system employ a full-time chief administrative officer.

Parental Review of School Library Media Center Materials: A bill was introduced in both bodies last week that would expand an existing law requiring school districts to have a procedure for parents to review the content of instructional materials and to arrange alternative instruction if the parent objects to the content. The bill specifies that this applies to instructional materials in a classroom, school library or media center. It also requires that when a parent objects to the content because he or she considers it to be sexually explicit or obscene, the district must notify the parents of all students who are being provided that content that a parent has objected to it on that basis. The name of the parent making the objection would be private data.

HF 1648/SF 1449 was introduced in the House by Rep. Abigail Whelan (R – Anoka) and it has many co-authors, all Republican. It was introduced in the Senate by Senator Dan Hall (R – Burnsville). All co-authors are Republicans. The bill will not receive a hearing this session.

Regional Library Basic System Support (RLBSS): Last week a bill was introduced to change the RLBSS formula by increasing base portion from 5% to 15% of the distribution and reducing the equalization portion of the formula from 25% to 15% of the distribution. The bill also increases funding for RLBSS by $5 million per year.

  • The House version, HF 1626, was introduced by Rep. Sondra Erickson (R – Princeton). Co-authors are Rep. Mary Murphy (DFL – Hermantown), Rep. Greg Davids (R – Preston), Rep. Paul Marquart (DFL – Dilworth), Rep. Bud Nornes – R – Fergus Falls) and 10 others.
  • The Senate version, SF 1675 was introduced by Senator LeRoy Stumpf (DFL – Plummer). Co-authors are Senator Tom Saxhaug (DFL – Grand Rapids), Senator Gary Dahms (R – Redwood Falls) and Senator Vicki Jensen (DFL – Owatonna).

Coming Up this Week: The House Education Innovation Policy Committee and the Senate Education Committee will each release their respective omnibus education policy bills this week, hear the bills and pass them out of committee by the end of the week in order to meet the first committee deadline, which is Friday, March 20.

Governor Dayton will release his supplemental budget proposal this week. He has already announced that it will include more funding for universal preschool for 4 year olds, more funding for the MnSCU system and more funding for nursing homes.

Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates

Library Legacy Request

MN Library Legacy Logo SmallLibraries showcase authors and jugglers, dancers and artists.

A request of $4,250,000 per year from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund will enable libraries continue offering these unique local opportunities.

Link to the request

Library Legacy funds help create strong communities and raise awareness of Minnesota’s local and statewide arts, history, literary talent, and cultural heritage.

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

Construction Grants for 2016 Session

Libraries Strengthen Minnesota logo smallSenator Stumpf, chair of the Senate Capital Investment Committee, is encouraging the library community to introduce a bill yet this session to fund Library Construction Grants.  While this will not be an actual topic of discussion until the 2016 legislative session, it will put the potential of future library construction on the Senate committee’s radar as they plan fall tours of bonding project communities.  Usually the Minnesota Library Association (MLA) would begin discussing the size of a library request at the summer Library Legislative Forum.  However, if a bill is introduced this session, a proposed dollar amount will be needed.

The history of MLA request for construction and remodeling has varied.  In 2012, MLA requested $10 million.  Last session MLA asked for $3 million and the legislature appropriated $2 million for Library Construction Grants.  Of this amount, $877,000 was set aside for three specific libraries, leaving $1,123,000 for the competitive grant pool.  The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) received five applications requesting a total of $1,851,225.  Requests exceeded the funds available by $728,225.

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

SELCO’s MN Loves Libraries Campaign

SELCO MN Loves Libraries logo 2015The Minnesota Loves Libraries Campaign is a grassroots advocacy drive set to run in SELCO libraries during the first few weeks of February. Capitalizing on I Love to Read month and serving as a precursor to the 2015 Minnesota Library Legislative Day, this simple “mail-in” postcard campaign will help local libraries collect those great “Why I Love My Library” stories and pass them along to state legislators on the March 3rd (Library Legislative Day). Click HERE to read the FAQs and to find all relevant materials.

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

NLLD 2015

Vote for Libraries buttonRegistration for the 41st annual National Library Legislative Day is now open!

National Library Legislative Day (NLLD) will be May 4-5, 2015. Participants will receive advocacy tips and training, along with important issues briefings prior to their meetings on Capitol Hill. This two-day advocacy event brings hundreds of librarians, trustees, library supporters, and patrons to Washington, D.C. to meet with their Members of Congress to rally support for libraries issues and policies.

Registration information and hotel booking information are available on the ALA Washington Office website.

First-time participants are eligible for a unique scholarship opportunity. The White House Conference on Library and Information Services Taskforce (WHCLIST) and the ALA Washington Office are calling for nominations for the 2015 WHCLIST Award. Recipients of this award receive a stipend ($300 and two free nights at a D.C. hotel) to a non-librarian participant in National Library Legislative Day.

For more information about the WHCLIST award or National Library Legislative Day, check the ALA Washington Office website.  Questions or comments can be directed to grassroots coordinator Lisa Lindle.

MN Legislative Update 2015-01-27

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

Governor’s Budget

Today Governor Dayton released his proposed budget for the FY 16-17 biennium. There are no changes in funding for any library programs. All remain at current funding levels. The Governor is proposing to increase the general education formula by 1% in each year of the biennium, for a total cost of $174.4 million. The general education formula is the primary source of funding for school library media programs. The Governor’s budget also includes $30 million for grants to expand broadband access.

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

Senator Chuck Wiger (DFL-N. St. Paul), chair of the Senate E-12 Budget Division, introduced SF 78, a bill increasing funding for TEA to $9.75 million per year. This is the amount requested on the MLA/ITEM platform. I asked Senator Wiger to amend the bill to include the increase for RLTA to $3.3 million per year as requested on our platform, and he has agreed to do so. The bill was scheduled to be heard on Tuesday, January 20. Mary Mehsikomer and I were slated to testify, but the committee ran out of time. The bill will be brought back at a future hearing. In the House, Rep. Ron Kresha (R – Little Falls), vice-chair of the House Education Finance Committee, has agreed to introduce a bill to increase funding for both TEA and RLTA.

Regional Library Basic System Support (RLBSS) and Multi-type Funding

Senator Tom Saxhaug (DFL – Grand Rapids) has agreed to introduce a bill to increase RLBSS to $18.57 million per year and Multitype funding to $2.6 million per year. These are the amounts requested on the MLA/ITEM platform. I hope to have chief author in the House lined up this week.

House Legacy Hearing

On Monday the House Legacy Committee held its first hearing of the session. Rep. Dean Urdahl (R- Grove City), chair of the committee, announced that they would follow the same process as in the past, meaning that it is not necessary to have a bill introduced to request Legacy funds. The Minnesota Historical Society presented its request at this hearing, and Valerie Horton gave excellent testimony about the Minnesota Digital Library, which is funded through the Historical Society’s Legacy appropriation.

Elaine KeefeCapitol Hill Associates

Library Legislative Day on March 3

Minnesota Capitol in winterRegions around the state are organizing delegations of librarians, library staff,  trustees and library Friends to visit their legislators on March 3 for the annual Minnesota Library Legislative Day. This is a chance to tell legislators about the importance of libraries and explain the important issues libraries face.

Despite construction within the Capital, teams of academic, school, public, and special library representatives will talk about how libraries are important to all Minnesotans and how libraries work together to enhance access to information and resources for personal, professional, and lifelong learning purposes.

Review the MLA/ITEM Legislative Platform

Register for Minnesota Library Legislative Day

MN High Tech Association supports increased bandwidth for libraries

Vote for Libraries buttonMargaret Anderson Kelliher, President and CEO of the Governor’s Broadband Task Force, has prepared a detailed letter for Commissioner Brenda Cassellius of the Minnesota Department of Education. In the letter, Ms. Anderson Kelliher addresses the importance of adequate broadband connectivity in Minnesota’s libraries and schools. Ms. Anderson Kelliher urges Commissioner Casselius to support increased State funding for the Regional Library Telecommunications Aid (RLTA) and Telecommunications Equity Aid (TEA) programs. Margaret Anderson Kelliher is the President of the Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) and former Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives.

Legislative Forum

MLA logo 2014MLA/MEMO 2014 Legislative Forum: Register Now

MLA and MEMO  members are invited to gather at Great River Regional Library in St. Cloud on July 8th  from 9:00 am until 3:00pm for the annual Library Legislative Forum.

Elaine Keefe, MLA lobbyist, will review the 2014 Legislative Session and special guests from the Minnesota Department of Education will speak.  The majority of the day will be spent developing and discussing possible legislative priorities, opportunities, and challenges for 2015.

Come be a part of this opportunity to shape the 2015 legislative agenda!
Registration is free for members and is now open.

Click here for more information about the Legislative Forum and to register

MLA Legislative Survey: Your Input Needed on the MLA Legislative Process

As part of our  2014 strategic planning, MLA is examining its legislative processes. MLA would like your thoughts on our current practices as well as input on future legislative priorities.  Please take a moment to give your feedback.  Click here to take the survey.

Lives Change @ LARL

LARL logoLake Agassiz Regional Library (LARL) launched an initiative to gather stories from library supporters leading up to Minnesota Library Legislative Day on March 5. Visit the LARL website and click on the Lives Change @ LARL slider to read letters from library advocates. LARL will continue to gather stories through National Library Week, April 13-19.

MoE Unchanged for Now

The following information was sent via e-mail on March 18, 2014,  from Elaine Keefe from Capitol Hill Associates and MLA/MEMO Lobbyist. 
I just came from a meeting with Daron Korte from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and Rep. Kathy Brynaert.  MDE has agreed to withdraw their proposed language on library maintenance of effort in exchange for a pledge that we will work with them on the issue for next year’s legislative session. Rep. Brynaert will offer an amendment to delete those sections from the bill. Daron is going to let Senator Torres Ray know that MDE has agreed to drop that language.
 
Thank you to all of you who have spent the morning contacting committee members.  You can go back to your regular jobs now!

MoE Action Needed

From the MLA/MEMO Lobbyist, Elaine Keefe of Capitol Hill Associates

The House Education Policy Committee and its counterpart, the Senate Education Committee, posted their draft omnibus education policy bills on March 17. Both omnibus bills include the provision proposed by MDE that would repeal all of 134.34, subdivision 4, and replace it with a cross-reference to the provision passed in the 2011 tax bill. That provision reduced both the minimum level of support and library maintenance of effort to 90% of what was required in 2011 and froze it at the level permanently.

If the MDE provision passes, it will be nearly impossible to ever get the freeze lifted and return to the previous minimum level of support and maintenance of effort requirements.

Please call or e-mail Senator Torres Ray and Rep. Mariani and the members of their committees to ask them to remove these provisions from their omnibus education policy bills.

Sample message to Senator Torres Ray and members of the Senate Education Committee:

Please delete Article 6, sections 1 and 2 from the omnibus education policy bill. This will damage public libraries by making permanent the harm inflicted over the past three years as a result of the cut and freeze in library maintenance of effort and the minimum level of support. Libraries have suffered significant service reductions as a result of this, and we cannot survive if it goes on forever.

Send this message to Senator Torres Ray  or call her at 651-296-4274 (or do both!)   Click here for a link to contact info for other members of the committee.

Sample message to Representative Mariani and members of the House Education Policy Committee:

Please delete Article 7, sections 1 and 2 from the omnibus education policy bill. This will damage public libraries by making permanent the harm inflicted over the past three years as a result of the cut and freeze in library maintenance of effort and the minimum level of support. Libraries have suffered significant service reductions as a result of this, and we cannot survive if it goes on forever.

Send this message to Representative Mariani or call him at 651-296-9714 (or do both!)  Click here for a link to contact info for other members of the committee.

ECRL Legislative Day Contingent

ECRL Leg Day group 2014ECRL Staff, Board Members, and Library Friends
Library Legislative Day, March 5, 2014

Back row: Karen Lee, Nancy Dunbar, Andrea Hermanson, Carolyn Avaire, Barbara Misselt-ECRL Director, Carol Goddard-ECRL Board Member, Patty Thompson, Vickie Sorn, Audrey Misiura-ECRL Board Member.

Middle row: Carla Lydon, Sarah Hawkins, Jeanne Coffey

Front: Dan Misiura Lee

NLLD May 5 & 6 in DC

Take Action for Libraries Banner

Register now for the 2014 National Library Legislative Day (NLLD)! 

For 40 years (!), there has been an annual National Library Legislative Day in the nation’s capital. Each year, over 400 library supporters travel to DC where they receive training and briefings to prepare for meetings with their members of Congress. Many continue their advocacy activities when they return back home by building on the relationships they established at NLLD.

Each state has a coordinator who arranges the meetings with legislators, communicates with the ALA Washington Office and serves as the contact person for the state delegation. Contact Mark Ranum, PCLS & PLS, for Minnesota specific information. Or, If you have general questions, please email Ted Wegner in the ALA Washington Office or call 800.941.8478

The NLLD registration page, also offers information about making a hotel reservation at the official NLLD hotel. This year’s event will be held at the Liaison Hotel in Washington DC on May 5 and 6. You can also find preliminary information about this year’s schedule.

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.

MDE Logo 2013

2014 Legislative Day a Successful Blur

Libraries Strengthen Minnesota logo smallDespite cold temperatures and a yet another snowfall, more than 100 library advocates ventured to St. Paul for discussions with legislators.  The MLA Legislative Committee hosted briefings on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, March 5, which offered the latest details on bill numbers, hearings, and lobbying strategy.

Library advocates promoted the inclusion of public library accessibility and construction grants in the proposed bonding bill, supported increased funding to cover educational telecommunications costs, and encouraged the creation of a task force to explore possible remedies for unfair eBook pricing.  CRPLSA’s Advocacy page has links to the 2014 legislative platform and issue specific talking points.

eBook Talking Points

Libraries Strengthen Minnesota logo smallThe library legislative platform supports an investigation in the wide variance of pricing for libraries compared to individual purchases, and the exploration of possible remedies to this uneven and discriminatory sales model.

Contract language, numerous pricing models, and variations by type of library abound.  To help library advocates wade through this information maze, the MLA Legislative Committee shared four documents that provide background information and may be used as legislative talking points.

  1. eBooks and Libraries (an FAQ)
  2. eBooks and School Libraries
  3. eBooks and Academic Libraries
  4. Pricing comparison prepared by Douglas County Library (Colorado, 2013)

Library Construction Talking Points

Libraries Strengthen Minnesota logo smallToday’s libraries are a marvelous blend of brick and mortar, collection, and technology. The Minnesota Library Association and the Minnesota Educational Media Organization support the appropriation of $3 million dollars for the 2014-2016 biennium for the construction of public library buildings through the State’s currently authorized matching program.  A series of Talking Points have been prepared to assist library advocates.

Encourage your local legislators to support HF1501 / SF1473 as discussions about the 2014 bonding bill unfold.

Telecom Talking Points

Libraries Strengthen Minnesota logo smallCRPLSA director, Peg Werner, VLS, was instrumental in preparing the Broadband and Telecommunications Access for Schools and Libraries legislative talking points. The focus of this legislative initiative supports an increase of $6 million for the school Telecommunications Equity Aid (TEA) program, as well as ongoing funding of the current $2.3 million appropriation for  Regional Library Telecommunications Aid (RLTA) to ensure equitable access to broadband and Internet services. The talking points outline 10 specific services affected by the availability and the level of bandwidth, ranging from technology support for displaced workers to Internet-based audio and videoconferencing technology is used to connect educators, librarians, and peers across the globe.

More information about CRPLSA legislative initiatives may be found on the Advocacy page.