Schools for Equity in Education

– Legislative Update

The Legislature returns tomorrow from the Easter break and they will be diving right in as they begin to pass major policy bills off the floor.  The Senate omnibus education policy bill is slated to be on the floor tomorrow and if the action during the last meeting of the Senate Education Policy Committee is any indication, there will likely be several amendments that seek to make changes in the bill.  There was little discussion as the bill passed out of committee on the effort to make it more difficult to ban books and other materials from the library, but I expect an amendment to that effect tomorrow.  I also expect some amendments that may try to loosen requirements around several programs enacted last year, but those amendments will likely come up short.  Still, with a razor-thin one-vote majority, there may be instances where an amendment offered by the minority party will sneak through.  It all remains to be seen.

Hearings last week featured a couple of bills—one that will happen and one that likely won’t—of interest to SEE members.  The Senate Education Finance Committee heard SF 3698 (Maye Quade), better known as READ Act 2.0.  Here is a copy of the delete-everything amendment that is now the text of the bill:  READ Act 2 Amendment.  Senator Maye Quade (and House author Representative Heather Edelson) have worked with school leaders to incorporate some important changes into the effort started last year with the enactment of the READ Act.  These changes include a delay by one year of the requirement that pertinent staff be trained, more flexibility in the use of resources both existing and newly infused, and additional funding for the purposes of the act to the tune of $40 million.  We are a way away from the home stretch of the 2024 legislative session and there may be more changes in the offing, but for now things are moving in the right direction.

The other bill of interest is HF 4986, a bill authored by Representative David Lislegard to provide property tax relief in school districts with high concentrations of seasonal/recreational property.  The bill would provide tax relief to these districts with existing referenda and in the event those districts without a referendum would pass one, they would also have a portion of that amount covered by state aid delivered through this mechanism.  SEE will always support broad-based property tax relief for the operating referendum, local option revenue, and debt service programs, but even with improvements to those tax fairness programs, there will be a set of districts where the presence of seasonal/recreational property distorts the system to the extent that it makes it difficult to pass operating levies.  Many of the 91 districts that do not have an operating referendum have high levels of seasonal/recreational property.  HF 4986 would hopefully give those districts a better chance of narrowing the gap between them and districts at the operating referendum cap.  Here is a data run for the bill:  HF 4986 Data Run.  The column that is next to the last column shows the district-by-district potential benefit in the bill.

Things will be picking up fast with the deadline for the funding bills two-and-a-half weeks away on April 19, so I expect a lot of bills will be heard.  The agreed-upon budget targets are in place and things could move rather quickly and it’s possible all work could be done by the constitutionally-mandated adjournment date of May 20.  Of course, many think that every non-budget year.  But with the DFL trifecta passing so much legislation last session, there isn’t a lot left on their list of priorities to accomplish as we move into the 2024 election season.  So stay tuned.  I will report on whatever is happening.

I am having computer problems that is limiting my access to my email, so if you have questions in the next week, I can be reached at or 612-220-7459.  Thanks.


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