Legislative Update

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

Governor’s Budget:  Governor Dayton released his supplemental budget proposal today.  He is proposing to spend a total of $698 million (including $117 million for tax cuts).  Of that spending, $411 million is one-time spending and $287 million is ongoing spending.  The governor proposes to leave $200 million on the bottom line to guard against a future economic downturn.  This is consistent with his statement last week in his State of the State address that his highest priority was protecting the fiscal stability of the state.  Here are items of interest in the proposed budget:

$100 million for Border to Border Broadband grants.  Earlier in the year Governor Dayton had announced that he would propose $100 million for broadband, but after the February forecast projected a smaller surplus, there was speculation that this amount might go down.  Happily, this was not the case.  This is a one-time appropriation.

$21.5 million for a one-time increase in Local Government Aid to cities.

$25 million for a one-time increase in County Program Aid.

$25 million for a pre-kindergarten program offered through public schools.  The funding would be targeted to high-poverty areas and those with a lack of three and four star Parent Aware rated child care programs.  This funding would increase to $40 million in FY 18 and $60 million in FY 19.

A detailed description of each item in Governor Dayton’s proposal can be found here.

Bills of Interest:  Since the Legislature convened one week ago, legislators have introduced 546 bills in the Senate and 747 bills in the House.  Here are some bills of interest to MLA and ITEM:

HF 2381 (Baker) Provides $35 million for border to border broadband grants.  The bill will be heard in the House Greater Minnesota Economic and Workforce Development Policy Committee this Thursday.

HF 2385 (Lesch)/ SF 2703 (Dibble)  Prohibits employers from requiring applicants or employees to divulge their username or password to any personal social media account.

HF 2386 (Lesch)/ SF 2705 (Chamberlain)  Prohibits educational institutions from requiring students or prospective students to divulge their username or password to any personal social media account.

HF 2537 (Youakim)/ SF 2510 (Kent)  Establishes the right of student journalists to determine the content of school newspapers and student-led publications, unless the content is profane, harassing or intimidating.

HF 2597 (Green)  Repeals the requirement that 47% of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund must be allocated to the State Arts Board.

HF 2645 (B. Johnson)/ SF 2296 (Nienow) Provides $2,414,000 to the city of Cambridge to build a new public library and headquarters for the East Central Regional Library.

HF 2898 (Lucero)  Protecting student data privacy on 1:1 devices issued by an educational institution.

HF 2900 (Lucero)  Protecting student privacy on personal electronic devices.

HF 2939 (C. Johnson)/ SF 2560 (Sheran) Provides funding for the Travers des Sioux Library Cooperative to hire licensed school media specialists to provide services to schools that do not have licensed school media specialists.  This was initiated by a former employee of TDS, and is not supported by the TDS Board.  I do not expect this bill to advance.

HF 3069 (Peterson) / SF 2462 (Carlson)  Exempts information systems software from the requirement that schools use a competitive bidding process for purchases.

SF 2294 (Dahms) Provides $30 million in bond proceeds for border to border broadband grants.

SF 2447 (Schmit)  Provides $100 million from the general fund for border to border broadband grants.

Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates

Legislative Prep 2016

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

Happy precinct caucus day!

The Legislative session begins one week from today.  Here are some key things to know:

State Economic Forecast:  The February forecast was released last Friday.  The projected state budget surplus is now $900 million, down from the $1.2 billion that was projected in early December.  This will make it much tougher for anyone hoping for new spending or tax cuts.

Governor’s Budget:  Governor Dayton is set to release his supplemental budget recommendations on March 15.  He has said that, given the downturn in the surplus, he is likely to propose a limited amount of one-time spending.  Previously he had said he would propose $100 million in broadband grants to underserved communities.  This is the sort of spending that could be done on a one-time basis.  The Governor’s top priority remains universal pre-school for all 4 year olds, but legislators remain skeptical, especially in the House.

Library Construction Grants:  This Thursday, March 3, the House Capital Investment Committee will hold a day-long hearing where state agencies will present their bonding requests that made it into the Governor’s Capital Budget.  MDE has been allotted a 20 minute time period from 11:40am to noon to present Library Construction Grants and a proposal for improvements to the Red Lake School.  The hearing will be in Room 200 State Office Building.

Committee Deadlines:  Deadlines this session are quite early, ensuring that the session moves at a fast pace.  Here are the dates:

First deadline:  Friday, April 1.  By this date a bill must have passed through all of the policy committees it needs to be heard in and have either been sent to a finance committee or to the floor in order to remain alive.

Second Deadline:  Friday, April 8.  By this date a bill must have met the criteria for meeting the first deadline in BOTH the House and Senate to remain alive.

Third Deadline:  Thursday, April 21.  By this date the omnibus spending bills must be passed out of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.

Legislative Calendar:  Traditionally the Legislature takes a week-long break for Passover and Easter.  This year because of the shortness of the session and because Passover and Easter are a month apart, legislators will instead take two short breaks.  The Legislature will be on a break for Easter beginning on Friday, March 25 and returning at noon on Tuesday, March 29.  The Legislature will take Friday, April 22 off because Passover begins that day at sundown.  The legislative session must adjourn no later than Monday, May 23 at midnight.

Legislative Retirements:  Amid the growing number of legislators who have announced that they will not seek re-election this year, the most notable for the library community is Senator LeRoy Stumpf (DFL – Plummer).  Senator Stumpf has been a long-time champion for libraries and we will miss him.  For a complete list of retiring legislators, follow this link:  http://www.leg.state.mn.us/lrl/histleg/retire

Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates

Prepping for the 2016 Legislative Session

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 Capital Budget:   Today Governor Dayton released his capital budget request for 2016.  It includes $2 million for Library Construction Grants.  It also includes one academic library project — $820,000 to relocate the library at the Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Wadena and convert the space vacated by the library into a student services center.  The governor’s proposal does not include any funding for the East Central Regional Library headquarters and public library in Cambridge.

The governor is requesting $1.4 billion for general fund supported projects and $122 million in projects supported by other funds, for a grand total of $1.522 billion.  This is a very ambitious proposal.  Legislators typically authorize $1 billion in capital projects in a biennium.  House Republicans are saying they’d prefer to spend no more than $850 million in 2016.

Committee Deadlines:  House and Senate leaders have announced committee deadlines for the 2016 legislative session, which begins on Tuesday, March 8.  They are as follows:

  • First deadline – Friday April 1: Committees must act favorably on bills in the house of origin.
  • Second Deadline – Friday, April 8:  Committees must act favorably on bills that met the first deadline in the other house.
  • Third Deadline –  Thursday, April 21:  The House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee must act favorably on major appropriations and finance bills.
  • Session must adjourn no later than Monday, May 23.Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates

Planning for 2016 Legislative Session

Preparations for the 2016 Legislative Session is a work in progress for the Minnesota Library Association (MLA) and CRPLSA .  The 2016 MLA Legislative Chair will be Barb Misselt, East Central Regional Library (ECRL) director. And, an action item on the agenda at the most recent MLA conference was the approval of the 2016 platform – in concept.  This approval is always given with an eye toward flexibility knowing that issues may change dramatically once the session gets underway.

Vote for Libraries buttonThe start of the regular session will be Tuesday, March 8, 2016.

Most current iteration of the 2016 Library Legislative platform.  Once finalized in early January, Arrowhead Library System (ALS) staff will re-format.

Minnesota Legislative Session Summary

MLA logo 2014 croppedThe following information was shared via email with the library community by Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates, in her role as MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

Below is a summary of 2015 legislative action (and inaction) affecting libraries. Most of this information has appeared in previous reports.

State Budget Overview: Despite having a nearly $1.9 billion budget surplus, Governor Dayton and legislative leaders were unable to reach a comprehensive budget agreement during the regular legislative session. After the session ended on May 18, Governor Dayton vetoed three major budget bills — the E-12 Education bill, the Agriculture and Environment bill and the Jobs and Economic Development bill. Legislators ran out of time and failed to pass the Legacy bill, the bonding bill and the Revisor’s bill (a technical corrections bill). After intense negotiations conducted largely between Governor Dayton and Speaker Daudt, an agreement was reached to hold a one-day special session to pass new versions of the three budget bills that were vetoed, along with the other three major bills for which time ran out. The special session was held on June 12. A revolt among Senate DFLers who were opposed to controversial provisions in the Agriculture and Environment bill threatened to derail the special session, but in the end all six bills were passed and Governor Dayton immediately signed them into law.

Library Appropriations in the E-12 Budget: Current funding levels were maintained for Regional Library Basic System Support (RLBSS), Regional Library Telecommunications Aid (RLTA), Multi-types, the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM) and Telecommunications Equity Aid (TEA). The MLA/ITEM platform called for increases in RLBSS, RLTA, Multi-type funding and TEA. We had excellent hearings on each of these requests in both the House Education Finance Committee and the Senate E-12 Budget Division, but the low targets set for education in both bodies ($157 million in the House and $365 million in the Senate) made it extremely difficult to get funding increases. The Senate E-12 education bill did include an increase in RLBSS of $1.5 million per year along with a formula change that increased the base portion and reduced the ANTC portion. The Senate bill also included an increase in funding for TEA of $1.5 million per year for the 16-17 biennium only. Neither of these increases survived the conference committee. The general education formula and early learning were the top priorities for legislators and the governor, and almost all of the new funding ultimately went to those two areas.

School Technology: The Senate E-12 education bill included a provision requiring school districts to reserve future increases in revenue from the School Endowment Fund for technology and telecommunications infrastructure, programs and training. The provision did not survive the conference committee.

After School Funding: The MLA/ITEM platform endorsed funding for high quality after school programs. The Senate E-12 education bill provided $500,000 per year for after school programs in the 16-17 biennium only, but this funding did not survive the conference committee.

General Education Formula: The final E-12 education bill increases the general education formula by 2% in each of the next two years. The formula allowance is going from $5,831 per pupil to $5,948 in FY 2016 and to $6,067 in FY 2017. Just over 2/3 of the new spending in E-12 education went to pay for this increase.

RLTA Language: The final E-12 education bill included language proposed by MDE and supported by MLA that more closely aligns RLTA with the federal e-rate program.

School Technology Plans: The final E-12 education bill repealed a requirement that school districts have a technology plan on file with MDE in order to qualify for TEA. This was proposed by MDE.

1:1 Device Guidelines: The final E-12 education bill requires MDE to research existing 1:1 device programs in Minnesota and across the country to determine best practices and to issue guidelines no later than February 15, 2016 and submit a report to the Legislature.

Data Privacy: The final E-12 education bill also includes a provision conforming Minnesota’s law governing student records to conform to recent changes in federal law. The St. Paul Public Schools initiated this bill to allow them to share student addresses with the St. Paul Public Library so that every student can be issued a public library card at school. Without this legislation the school district would only be able to share student addresses with the public library if the school district classified the addresses as public information.

Legacy Funding for Regional Public Libraries: Regional public libraries will receive $2.2 million in legacy funding in each of the next two years. This is less than the $3 million per year that was allocated for the FY 14-15 biennium. Legislators in both bodies were adamant that no one had a base budget for Legacy funds, and therefore it was not appropriate to characterize it as a cut or even to complain about receiving less than in the previous biennium. The House bill provided $1.5 million for FY 16 and $2.5 million in FY 17, while the Senate bill provided $2.95 million each year. The initial version of the bill that was presented to the public as the conference committee agreement included the House level of funding for regional public libraries. However, an amendment was made at the last minute to add $400,000 over the biennium. Thank you to all of you who contacted the conferees. I do believe you made a difference.

Legacy Funding for the Minnesota Digital Library: The Minnesota Digital Library will receive $300,000 per year, which is the same level of funding provided over the last two years. As in the past, the funding is appropriated to the Minnesota Historical Society with a directive to cooperate with Minitex and jointly share the appropriation.

Higher Education: Funding for Minitex and MnLink will remain at the current level. MnSCU received an increase of $100 million for tuition relief and the University of Minnesota received an increase of $52 million, which includes $30 million for the medical school and $22 million for tuition relief. The Minnesota Electronic Health Library was not funded.

Border to Border Broadband Grants: The final Jobs and Economic Development bill included $10, 838,000 for broadband grants. This is in contrast to the $20 million provided in the 2014 session and the $30 million proposed by Governor Dayton in his budget.

Seed Library: Inspired by the seed library at the Duluth Public Library, the final agriculture policy bill included an exemption from seed regulations for “interpersonal sharing of seed for home, educational, charitable or personal non-commercial use.”

Data Practices Training for Local Government: The League of Minnesota Cities initiated a bill to provide funding so that the Department of Administration could provide training to local government officials on complying with the Minnesota Data Practices Act. The Senate included $100,000 for this in its State Government Finance bill, but the House provided no funding. Like so many other things that were funded in the Senate but not the House, this did not survive the conference committee.

Library Construction Grants: Governor Dayton proposed an unusually large bonding bill for an odd-numbered year, and it included $2 million for Library Construction Grants. This is the first time that a governor has included funding for this program in his capital budget. In the end, the governor and legislators agreed on a far more modest bonding bill consisting mainly of urgent items. In preparation for 2016, we had a bill introduced to provide $10 million for Library Construction Grants (SF 2179/ HF 2353). Our chief authors are Senator Kent Eken (DFL – Twin Valley) and Rep. Jeff Howe (R – Cold Spring).

Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates

Special Session Today

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 is holding a special session today. Governor Dayton issued a proclamation at 11pm last night calling legislators into a special session beginning at 10am this morning. Governor Dayton and legislative leaders expressed hope that this would be a one-day special session.

As of this writing both the House and Senate have passed the E-12 Education bill, the Legacy bill and the Jobs and Economic Development bill, all by wide margins. All three of those bills include appropriations of interest to libraries, which I have described in previous reports.

The three bills remaining to be passed are the bonding bill, the Agriculture and Environment bill and the Revisor’s bill. The most controversial is the Agriculture and Environment bill, which is opposed by many environmentalists. Earlier this afternoon the bill failed on the Senate floor by one vote. The vote was 33 in favor and 32 opposed, but it takes 34 votes to pass a bill on the Senate floor. The most likely scenario is that one or more senators who voted no are persuaded to change their votes. If not, a second special session would be required.

When the special session is concluded and Governor Dayton has signed all of the bills, I will send out a comprehensive summary of the 2015 session.

In the meantime, don’t hesitate to contact me with questions.

Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates

Legislative Update 2015-06-08

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

Special Session: Governor Dayton and legislative leaders have reached agreement on all of the issues to be addressed in the special session with the exception of whether a provision curtailing the authority of the State Auditor should be repealed. Governor Dayton wants the provision repealed but Speaker Daudt says the Legislature will not do that.

Letter Speaker Daudt sent to Governor Dayton today, asking to meet tomorrow to set a date for the special session.

Education Bill: I reported last week at the MLA Legislative Committee meeting that Governor Dayton and Speaker Daudt had agreed to spend $525 million over the base budget for E-12 education, with an increase of 2% per year on the general education formula. At that time, the remaining details were being negotiated. On Friday the final bill and spreadsheet were released. As expected, there were no changes to any library appropriations and no change in the library language that had been agreed upon during the regular session. Early Learning Scholarships were increased by $48 million over the biennium, School Readiness was increased by $31 million and Head Start was increased by $10 million.

Link to the Education Bill

Link to the Education Bill spreadsheet

Other Bills: The remaining bills to be taken up during the special session are the Legacy bill (the same bill that was agreed to by the conference committee), the agriculture/environment bill, a small bonding bill and the jobs and economic development bill. The jobs and economic development bill includes funding for broadband grants of $10,838,000. Although Governor Dayton had initially objected to such a small amount for broadband, he agreed to it in the end. As part of the agreement, an earmark for the city of Annandale was removed. Annandale will have to compete for a broadband grant like everyone else. Finally, the bonding bill cancels $50,000 for the renovation of the Bagley Library that was in the 2014 bonding bill. Those costs cannot be bonded for, according to Senator Stumpf, chair of the Senate Capital Investment Committee.

Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates

MN Legislative Update 2015-05-25

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

Additional Vetoes: On Saturday Governor Dayton finished signing and vetoing bills passed in the regular legislative session. In addition to the omnibus education bill, he also vetoed the omnibus jobs bill and the agriculture and environment bill. Among the reasons the governor cited for vetoing the jobs bill was the meager level of funding for broadband grants. As expected, the governor signed the agriculture policy bill, which includes the exemption for seed libraries from agricultural regulations.

Special Session: This afternoon Governor Dayton is holding separate meetings with Speaker Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Bakk to begin special session negotiations. The bills that are expected to be part of the special session are the three budget bills that were vetoed – education, jobs and agriculture/environment – plus the Legacy bill and a small bonding bill. Governor Dayton has also mentioned the possibility of agreeing to a temporary income tax cut in exchange for more education funding. He also wants legislators to reverse a provision that was in the omnibus state government bill allowing Greater Minnesota counties to hire private sector auditors rather than having to be audited by the State Auditor. Given that the list of issues to be resolved has grown, many observers are skeptical that the special session can be completed in early June. Governor Dayton has said he wants the special session wrapped up by June 15.

Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

2014 Legislative Changes Impacting Libraries

State Librarian Jen Nelson shares an update on the laws passed in the recently adjourned 2014 legislative session that impact libraries.

Omnibus Capital Investment – Library Construction Grants
A $2 million appropriation will support library construction grants under Minnesota Statutes, section 134.45. The law also clarifies that renovation projects may include remediation of conditions hazardous to health or safety. Of the total appropriation, specific funds were allocated for grants to three cities for library projects: $570,000 to the city of Jackson, $257,000 to the city of Perham and $50,000 to the city of Bagley. State Library Services is in the midst of streamlining and revising the Library Construction Grant application process, and anticipates announcing the timeline for a competitive grant ground in June.

Education Policy – Regional Library Telecommunications Aid
Article 7 Section 1 amends Minnesota Statutes, section 134.355 Subdivision 8 to allow for exceptions to the minimum open hours requirement for regional library telecommunications aid. Applicants may now request exceptions to the open 20 hour per week requirement for short-term closings for emergency maintenance and repairs following a natural disaster, in response to exceptional economic circumstances, building repairs or maintenance that requires public services areas to be closed or to adjust hours of public service to respond to documented seasonal use patterns. We anticipate that this change will streamline the application and reporting process and ensure that libraries have reliable access to necessary funds even when the unexpected happens. State Library Services will be adapting 2014 Regional Library Telecommunication Aid reporting documents to reflect the change, and work with aid recipients to ensure that the new provisions are well understood.

Education Policy – Libraries and Service Delivery
Article 7 Section 2 directs the commissioner of the Department of Education to consult with representatives from a number of library and governmental organizations on ‘options for changing current library procedures and library governance systems to increase collaboration between library systems, ensuring equitable and cost-effective access to library services statewide.’ In addition to access to physical services, the commissioner must consider how to increase access to emerging electronic services. This provision is effective  immediately and a report to the education policy and finance committees is due by February 1, 2015.

State Library Services will be reaching out over the next few weeks to identify people interested in serving on the task force. If you would like more information about the task force, or are interested in participating, please contact Jennifer Nelson, State Librarian, or Kevin McHenry, Assistant Commissioner.

MDE Logo 2013

MN’s New Women’s Economic Security Act

Womens Economic Security Act logo300pxAt a Mother’s Day signing, Governor Mark Dayton made the Women’s Economic Security Act law in Minnesota.  The new law identifies nine employment areas designed to improve working conditions.  The hallmark of the bill is a new requirement that allows a parent up to 12 weeks of pregnancy and parenting leave at the birth or adoption of a child.  Minnesota is one of only a handful of states allowing this longer time frame.  The bill received bipartisan support in both houses of the Minnesota Legislature.

Click here for a bill summary.

Click here for additional information.

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

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.

2014 Legislative Platform Available

Libraries Strengthen Minnesota logo smallWith the start of the 2014 Minnesota legislative session just weeks away, the 2014 MLA – MEMO Library Legislative Platform is available for review and distribution.  The library community will focus on three primary areas: public library construction, telecommunications, and eBooks. As bills are introduced, CRPLSA and MLA Legislative Chair Jim Weikum (ALS Director) will monitor the progress on these issues as well as other topics that may affect library operations and service.

Plans are underway for this year’s Library Day at the Capitol.  Mark your calendars for Wednesday, March 5 and join library supporters from around the state in St. Paul.  More information will be available soon.