Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bills continue to move

Yesterday at the Capitol

House higher education omnibus bill headed to the floor
The House Ways and Means Committee approved the higher education omnibus bill last night, it now heads to the floor. There was one amendment to the bill regarding the language on tuition guarantee. Instead of implementing a stable four-year tuition rate guaranteed, the language now reads that students must be offered the opportunity to participate in a four-year stable tuition rate plan. Attached is a pdf of the bill handed-out in committee last night. As a reminder, the Senate passed their version of the higher ed bill off the floor Friday. Once the House passes the bill, a conference committee will be formed to work through the differences in the two bills.

Bills moving through the process
The House Finance committee approved HF 2251 yesterday, sponsored by Rep. Loren Solberg, DFL-Grand Rapids. The bill appropriates $1.1 million to state officials to help report and oversee the state’s use of the federal stimulus funds. $700,000 would be appropriated to Minnesota Management and Budget and $384,000 to the Office of the State Auditor.

The funds would be made available for the current fiscal year, and would carry over into the next biennium. Rep. Solberg said Minnesota Management and Budget requested the money to comply with federal oversight requirements included in the stimulus. Sen. Richard Cohen, DFL-St. Paul, is the author of SF 1938, the companion in the Senate which awaits action by the full Senate.

Both the House and Senate passed a bill that would allow unemployment benefits for employees in the WIRED program, which is funded by a U.S. Dept. of Labor Grant. HF 1048 / SF 643, which passed the Senate April 6 and then passed the House yesterday, is on its way to the governor.

Similar to the Shared Work Program, a Workforce Investment in Regional Economic Development participant would reduce his or her work hours in order to take skills training, and would receive unemployment benefits in proportion to the amount of reduced hours.

At the Capitol:
Legislative schedules are available for the House and Senate.

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