Schools for Equity in Education

– Legislative Update

“It was another hectic week in St. Paul,” but, hey, I don’t know how else to kick it off when that line keeps providing the best description of the legislative action.

I imagine readers of the weekly update are tiring of me starting off each update with the line “It was another hectic week in St. Paul,” but, hey, I don’t know how else to kick it off when that line keeps providing the best description of the legislative action.  The number of bill introductions aren’t that far off from the introductions in 2019 (I’ve thrown out 2021 due to the unorthodox session due to the pandemic), but what has been dramatically different this session is the amount of significant (and controversial) legislation that has made it to and off the floors in the House and Senate during the first month of the 2023 session.

The women’s reproductive health bill, the carbon-neutral by 2040 energy initiative, and the Federal tax conformity bill all made it to the Governor’s desk by the end of January and the “drivers’ licenses for all” bill will likely hit Governor Walz desk at some point this week.  Perhaps the principal reason for the accelerated pace is the fact that there is one-party control of the Legislature and the Governor’s office.  The fact that there was split control of the Legislature from 2017 through 2022 slowed down the process as the different bodies had different priorities, making it necessary to negotiate for bills to make it to the Governor.

There will likely be a few more high-profile pieces of legislation that will make it through the process and onto the Governor in February and we’ll have to see how that unfolds.  Most notably, bills related to Paid Family/Medical Leave and Unemployment Insurance for part-time (or between-term) employees will probably be next on the docket.

There doesn’t seem to be any education legislation that will hit the Governor’s office prior to the latter part of the session.  The Senate heard SF 8 earlier this year.  That bill would have provided one-time money in the current school year to help mitigate the cross-subsidies in districts’ special education, English Language, and transportation programs, but that bill has yet to be heard in the House and it remains to be seen if that approach will be pursued by the House.

Where the two sets of education committees have been almost in tandem is that both sets of committees have tackled bills addressing the special education cross-subsidy, the English Language cross-subsidy, board authority to renew expiring operating levies, and the requirement that districts provide feminine hygiene products.  The first three of those items are funding related and they are contained in some form in the Governor’s budget recommendations, so we can expect that they will all be somewhere in the framework.

The thing to watch in the next few weeks—and I mentioned two of these items above—are some bills with traction that won’t be in the education bill but will probably pass on their own.  The two highest profile bills are the Unemployment Insurance bill and the Paid Family/Medical Leave Bill.  The extension of Unemployment Insurance to between-term employees was included in the House version of the bill that repaid the Federal Government for the Unemployment Insurance sent to the state to pay for the increased usage of the program during the pandemic.  The provision was dropped during the negotiations between the then-Republican Senate and the DFL House (with a strong nudge from the Governor to get the primary issue addressed without further negotiation), but with single-party control, it has resurfaced and the primary question now is whether it will be handled as a single bill or rolled into an omnibus bill.  The costs for both the Unemployment Insurance expansion and the Paid Family/Medical Leave are slated to be covered by state resources in the Governor’s budget recommendations, but there is concern that they are being funded at a high-water mark in terms of the state budget and any downturn in the long-term budget situation would push the costs to local school districts.

Another bill that will lie outside of the purview of the education committees but will affect school districts is a bill that would eliminate the age limit for Type III vehicles (cars and vans).  There are still significant supply chain issues preventing districts and contractors from receiving new vehicles and with the age limit still in place, it has caused problems for many.

That should do it for now, but I’ll be back next week with another wrap-up.  Follow the blog at where I will provide daily updates on bill introductions and committee hearings.


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