Schools for Equity in Education

– Legislative Update

The 2024 legislative session is entering its homestretch and the stretch has gotten a bit more complicated over the past week due to the legal problems being faced by a DFL state senator.  With the DFL currently holding a one-seat majority, they need every vote to pass legislation unless they can bring a Republican or two or six across the political divide in order to get bills across the finish line.

This situation is extremely rare, but not unprecedented.  In the past there have been instances when legislators were arrested for DUIs and there was nary a blink by either side as to whether the accused should be allowed to continue in their position.  At the same time, there was a situation in the late-1970s when a sitting legislator was expelled from the Minnesota House of Representatives for violating election law.  The House was evenly split 67-67 prior to that action and because House rules forbade a legislator on a motion that would invalidate their election, he was expelled on a 67-66 vote.  Given the virtual tie that the Senate now sits in, the hubbub surrounding this unfortunate—and illegal—event, probably has as much to do with disrupting or maintaining the thin majority as opposed to the legal matter in and of itself.  Granted,  a comparison of a violation of election law and a burglary charge isn’t apples-to-apples, but the tight partisan composition of the legislative bodies in both these cases clearly amplified the action in 1979 and is amplifying this situation 45 years later.

As has been stated from the outset this session, nothing has to pass.  There are some bills that would be very helpful, especially in education where revisions to the READ Act passed in 2023 would provide school districts with more money, more time, and greater flexibility.  There is bipartisan support for these changes and there are other items in both the education finance and education policy bills that are non-controversial and could prove helpful for school districts and students.  There are also provisions in these bills that have sparked a lot of comment from the Republican minority caucuses that may now be difficult to pass through the razor-thin Senate majority.  This may lead to a paring down of the bills to the point where enough Republican legislators can be brought along to ease the partisan divide.  That would mean a much narrower scope of provisions that would be less controversial in nature.  Bear in mind that is only a prediction on my part and the next three weeks could be resemble the political version of the WWE’s Royal Rumble.

The House will be taking up the omnibus education funding bill tomorrow (Tuesday) and the Republicans held off on offering amendments in committee, but promised to bring a slate of amendments to be offered on the floor.  So buckle up, pop some popcorn, and tune in for what should be an enjoyable display of the legislative process.  If you’re not into that sort of thing, there’s always Murder, She Wrote and Columbo reruns on Peacock.  The bill will then head to the Senate where it will likely be considered later this week.  Given the current Senate morass, debate there may center as much on procedure as on the content of the amendments that are offered.

The Minnesota Constitution requires that the legislature adjourn by May 20th (first Monday after the third Saturday in May) and the constitution also states that the Legislature cannot pass bills on the last day of the biennium.  That means work must be completed by May 19th.  Everyone wants a bonding bill and because that requires approval by 60% of legislators in both the House and Senate, Republican votes will be needed for it to reach the Governor’s desk.  So there’s a lot in the works and I will keep you in the loop these next three-plus weeks.

As always, reach me at 612-220-7459 or


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SEE Side-by-Side Comparison

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