SAINT PAUL, Minn. — Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives approved legislation to ensure hourly school employees continue to get paid through the end of the school year. The legislation provides compensation for hourly school employees and allows entities that contract with schools to provide services to be reimbursed for paying their employees, for changes in school employment practices as a result of COVID-19 related school closures and the conversion to distance learning programs.
“Paraprofessionals, nutrition services staff, child care workers, bus drivers, and other hourly staff provide vital services to our students,” said Rep. Ami Wazlawik (DFL – White Bear Township). “During this unprecedented public health crisis, they have gone to extraordinary lengths to continue caring for children and families who need their support more than ever. We need to ensure all hourly school employees have the economic security that they deserve.”
The bill also addresses school finance formula glitches resulting from the conversion to the distance learning model. The legislation creates and legislatively approves certain waivers of state law regarding assessments, graduation and course requirements, and potential licensure issues faced by prospective and current teachers.
The Minnesota House also approved legislation allowing the utilization of federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funds, and additional measures to ensure Minnesota’s elections remain safe and secure.
“Minnesotans are proud that our state consistently leads the nation in voter turnout,” said Rep. Wazlawik. “We need to ensure that our election system is safe to participate in and secure from hacking and foreign interference so voters can continue to make their voices heard.”
In addition to improving accessibility and modernizing election security, HAVA funds will be used to ensure the health and safety of election officials and in-person voters. This includes preparation for increased absentee voting, new polling place locations, the purchase of sanitation and disinfectant supplies, and public outreach for implementing social distancing guidelines related to voting. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, additional funds were made available for virus-specific measures through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.