The final vote on the House bill was a straight party-line 70-60 vote. Usually, one or two members of the minority caucus will vote in favor of the bill in hopes of being included in the conference committee that will negotiate the final bill, but unless the House ignores the tradition that requires someone to vote for the final bill to be a member of the conference committee, only DFLers will comprise the House conferees this year. The length of the debate on the bill was considerable—coming in at about four hours—and there was one amendment offered by Republican Representative Dean Urdahl regarding the civics requirement in the bill and having it taught in either 11th or 12th grade instead of the 9th grade through senior year as laid out in the original bill. Two amendments offered by the Republicans generated considerable discussion. The first was offered by Representative Ron Kresha—the Republican lead on the House Education Finance Committee—and it was the Republican caucus’ omnibus bill response. The amendment sought to pare down the omnibus bill by jettisoning much of the DFL policy initiatives and putting almost all of the ongoing money in the bill towards increasing the general education formula (5% increase in each year of the biennium, but not tied to inflation thereafter) and decreasing the special education cross-subsidy. The other amendment that produced spirited discussion would have eliminated the section of the bill that requires the development and implementation of an ethnic studies graduation standard in the social studies standards.
Once the Senate passes its bill or bills tomorrow, preparations for the conference committee will begin. Staff will prepare a side-by-side comparing the provisions in the bill and spreadsheets that show how the two bills have apportioned their spending targets. We will likely know the ten legislators—five from each body—who will comprise the conference committee by Tuesday or Wednesday and the conference committee could begin its negotiations shortly thereafter. There are not massive differences in the scope of the two bills seeing they have identical budget targets of $2.2 billion, but there are differences in the amount directed to certain programs or revenue streams and that is where the stumbling blocks to reaching a quick accord lie. The negotiations will have to be completed by Monday, May 22, when the Legislature is slated to adjourn for the year.
I will keep you posted as things take shape during this important week. Let me know if you have any questions or comments at 612-220-7459 or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Combined Legislative Meetings held this week at the Capitol.