For more information contact: Leah Patton 651-296-9895
This week has been mostly been spent debating omnibus bills. We passed three omnibus bills off the House floor in the last five days, and all three are now waiting for a vote in the Senate. Here is a brief summary of each of these bills.
K-12/Higher Education Omnibus Bills
On Monday, the House passed its K-12/Higher Education Omnibus. The education policy portion of the education bill focused on ensuring teacher safety, helping schools address teacher shortages, and promoting civics education in our students. There are also provisions that simplify the teacher licensure process, and have the Department of Education look at the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) and find score benchmarks that best indicate college and career readiness.
In terms of funding, $6 million was allocated for paraprofessional “grow your own” programs and future teacher grants, and an additional $6 million was focused on bettering early childhood literacy and learning. Money allocated in the funding portion of the bill has been re-purposed from other areas, and the overall spending in this bill is close to net-zero.
As mentioned before, our House Education Finance provisions included my bill, HF 2411, which is a funding request for $69,000 in early learning funds for the Metro Deaf School.
One of my favorite parts of the Higher Education section of the omnibus is a provision that has MnSCU create pilot programs for students with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Currently, the only program of this sort in our state is the BUILD Program at Bethel University. These new programs and are meant teach independent living and job skills to students, and allow them to have a college experience along with their peers.
Here is a link to the House Public Information Services Education Omnibus bill page: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/sessiondaily/SDView.aspx?StoryID=10168
This bill passed the House floor with a vote of 84-46.
Agriculture, Environment, and Job Growth Bill
On Wednesday, our Agriculture, Environment, and Job Growth Omnibus came to the floor for a vote.
The Job Growth portion of this bill focuses on workforce development, including a $5 million investment in workforce housing. There is also an $11.5 million allocation toward clean water improvements, and $500,000 in grants to address childcare shortages.
The Agriculture portion of the omnibus concentrates significantly on animal disease prevention and research. Allocations include $3.332 million to create a new account for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to shore up outbreak related emergency response and preparedness, and $1.8 million to the University of Minnesota to develop disease predicting/tracking software.
The Environmental section of the omnibus allocates $8.6 million to Minnesota’s parks, trails, and forestry work. It also requires that new motorboats with enclosed compartments be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors, and puts in new procedures to expedite land exchanges between school trust lands and university lands.
This bill passed with a vote of 72-54.
For more detailed information, there is the House Public Information Services bill page for this omnibus: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/sessiondaily/SDView.aspx?StoryID=10177
Here is also a link to the Star Tribune article on this bill, including a sweet picture of Gideon: http://m.startribune.com/house-passes-major-jobs-ag-environment-budget-bill-wide-gulf-with-senate/377365291/
The photo is by Glen Stubbe, who takes the most amazing photos of the legislative process.
Health and Human Services, State Government, and Public Safety Bill
Yesterday, and into the early hours of this morning, we debated the Health and Human Services (HHS), State Government, and Public Safety omnibus bill.
Some of the highlights in the HHS section include a measure calling for an audit of the MNSure exchange to insure that people enrolled in MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance are eligible for these services, building on findings from the Office of the Legislative Auditor indicating that there huge amounts money are being used for people who are mistakenly enrolled in these programs. Any savings found by this audit would go to a new fund, giving long term care providers a well-deserved raise. The bill also repeals the childcare worker unionization language that was passed back in 2013; childcare workers voted overwhelmingly not to unionize, so the language from 2013 is no longer pertinent.
The State Government Finance portion of the bill includes funding for the Eagles Healing Nest veteran’s recovery home, and additional funding for the State Soldiers Assistance Fund. It also bans all non-essential travel by state employees in order to save taxpayer dollars. And it also includes my bill, HF 2825, to make changes to the Manufactured Homes Relocation Trust Fund.
The Public Safety portion of the bill highlights include increasing the fine for school bus stop violations, and increases penalties for accidents resulting in injury or death when a driver does not have a valid license.
This bill passed with a vote of 72-57.
The House public Information Services Page has a more in-depth overview: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/sessiondaily/SDView.aspx?StoryID=10178
The Link Resource Center
Today I had the pleasure of touring The Link C.O.R.E. drop-in resource center. They provide essential services for homeless youth in Dakota County. Thank you to Link staff for the indispensable work they do, and for teaching me more about the resource center!
I hope this update wasn’t too dense; as you can see, we have had a very full week! I look forward to following the conference committee process, and I will certainly keep you updated as we move forward.
As always, please don't hesitate to contact me with your comments, questions, and concerns. Email me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 651-296-4306. You can also follow my updates on Facebook at www.facebook.com/repannawills and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/annacwills.
Enjoy the beautiful weather this weekend!
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