Schools for Equity in Education

– Legislative Update

The 2024 Legislative Session started on Monday, February 12, and the Legislature is swinging into action. The first week in the education world largely focused on issues related to school resource officers and legislation aimed at removing concerns expressed by the law enforcement community after changes made to discipline policies during the 2023 session. This became a hot political issue right after the 2023 session as a number of interests—particularly law enforcement—felt that the language in the non-exclusionary discipline provisions past last session was vague and left school resource officers in an uncomfortable position as what they could and could not do in situations that required their intervention.

Representative Cedric Frazier and Senator Bonnie Westlin have introduced a compromise bill– HF 3489/SF 3534—that aims to right the situation and give school resource officers the guidance necessary to feel comfortable in their roles and get them back into school buildings in districts that are currently going without them. It should be noted that many school districts were able to retain their school resource officers during the controversy as the cities and counties that employ these officers were able to come to agreement with the school district on how school resource officers were to perform their duties. That said, this remains a hot political topic and, as is often the case with compromise legislation, concerns have been raised on both ends of the political spectrum that the bill either goes too far and doesn’t protect students from over-zealous officers or does not go far enough in protecting the officers when they intervene in violent situations.

The bill was heard in both the House Education Policy Committee and the House Public Safety and Finance Committee this past week. It is currently being held in the latter committee but should head to the House floor soon. On the Senate side, it has passed through the Education Policy Committee and will be heard next week in the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee. The 2023 changes did not go through the committees related to law enforcement and, as a result, concerns surrounding appropriate use of force were not fully discussed, which led to the controversy that arose after last session.

The House Education Finance Committee spent two hearings receiving updates from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) on how the policies and programs created and funded during the 2023 Legislative Session are being implemented. A lot of attention was paid to the READ act and questions related to the curricular and professional development decisions made by MDE are affecting school districts. The authors of the READ act—Representative Heather Edelson and Senator Erin Maye-Quade—have introduced HF 3744/SF 3698 that provides more funding for the program and attempts to answer some of the questions that remain in the field. It is hoped that any additional funding coming to districts will allow them to meet their individual needs when implementing the ambitious set of requirements outlined in the legislation passed last session. Districts throughout the state are at different stages of implementation and there is a wide range of needs. Providing districts flexibility will be the key for the long-term success of the program.

I will begin my daily blogs next week and hope that you follow along. There will be some changes as last year’s entries often became littered with a lot of extraneous bill introductions. I plan to cull the list a bit and try to focus on those bills that are most pertinent to SEE’s mission of fair funding and fair property tax policy. Here is the link to the blog for your reference: Brad’s Blog. I will also be hosting a bi-weekly update 11:00-11:30am Mondays beginning on February 26. I hope you will join me as I love to get feedback from membership on what is important to them as the session continues. Until then, stay tuned. The 2024 session will fly by and keeping everyone up-to-date is the goal.

As the Legislative Session starts I would like to remind you of a few places to look on the SEE website to keep you up on some of the educational items happening at the Capitol.

Legislative Updates
Brads Blog
Know your Key Legislators and Senate and House Committees
News
House and Senate Committee Meetings
Revenue Trends
Comparison Data

House and Senate Bills releated to education, this list is up to date as of 2/15/24.

Combined Legislative Meetings held this week at the Capitol.

Thanks for your membership and support!

Brad and Kim

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