Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Committee says system should apply for federal health grants, Higher education policy conference committee appointed, Governor wants budget solution

Yesterday at the Capitol

In the Senate yesterday, the committees on Health, Housing and Family Security and Commerce and Consumer Protection met jointly and among other issues, took up SF 3397, which encourages the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system to apply for federal grants available to further the development and expansion of the clinical coordination project. This bill was before the committee for discussion.

Elizabeth Biel, with the Healthcare Education Industry Partnership located at Minnesota State University, Mankato testified to the success of the original pilot project and current program. The goal of the project is to coordinate work sites for nursing students to get the clinical experience they need to complete in order to graduate and increase efficiency and utilization within the state's clinical experience environment. Biel said that without the necessary space for clinicals, nursing programs across the state cannot educate more nursing students. Minnesota's healthcare education programs report that securing these experiences is among the top 3 barriers to maintain and expand graduation rates. Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato, a former nursing professor at Minnesota State University, Mankato, testified that competing for clinical space was a real problem. Biel said there are 38 nursing programs in the state, and the program is designed to tear down the silos and work together. Author of the bill, Sen. Sharon Erickson Ropes, DFL-Winona, said the program can be used as a model across the health care spectrum, and that this program is a good model that will help the state qualify for federal grants available through the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.

On the Senate floor, Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, moved to not concur with the House higher education policy bill and requested that a conference committee of 3 be appointed. Senate appointees include: Sen. Pappas, Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, and Sen. Claire Robling, R-Jordan.The House appointed 3 conferees as well. They are Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Viriginia, Rep. Kathy Brynaert, DFL-Mankato and Rep. Carol McFarlane, R-White Bear Lake. A conference committee has not yet been scheduled.

On the House floor yesterday, members debated the health and human services bill for over nine hours and passed it by a vote of 79-54. However, Gov. Pawlenty has said he will veto the bill because of costs in future years. While the bill makes cuts of $164 million in the current biennium, it does designate an additional $38 million in fiscal year 2011 and $53 million in the 2012-2013 biennium for Minnesota’s participation in an early federal health care reform initiative, an expansion of the state’s Medicaid program.

In a press conference yesterday, the governor revealed his plan to balance the remaining $536 million budget deficit without relying on the expected $408 million in federal funds. Most of the cuts the governor is recommending were included in his original supplemental budget plan. In addition to the budget cuts he already proposed, Pawlenty is calling for additional reductions of $65 million from an Iron Range trust fund; $36 million to health and human services programs; and $30 million to local government aid.

The governor criticized the Legislature for only enacting one-third of the necessary budget cuts so far in session and threatened to use his unallotment powers to make cuts unilaterally if lawmakers do not balance the budget before they adjourn May 17.

Today at the Capitol

8:30 AM
House K-12 Education Policy
Room: 10 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Carlos Mariani
Agenda: Federal School Improvement Grants and Minnesota's list of "Persistently Lowest-Achieving Schools"

8:30 AM
House State and Local Government Operations Reform, Technology and Elections
Room: 200 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Gene Pelowski
Agenda: HF2227 (Marquart) Board of Innovation reestablished, powers and duties imposed, and money appropriated.
HF3825 (Solberg) Alternative plans for a new National Football League stadium in Minnesota provided, Minnesota Stadium Authority established, and Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission abolished.
HF3821 (Winkler) Disclaimer required on certain campaign material, independent expenditure provisions modified, and money appropriated

12:00 PM
House in Session

1:00 PM
Senate in Session
SF 2337 - Omnibus Health and Human Services bill
SF 3028 - Omnibus E-12 Finance Bill
SF 2918 - Pensions bill

2:00 PM (or 30 minutes after session adjourns)
House Ways and Means
Room: 5 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Loren Solberg
HF2431 (Greiling) Omnibus K-12 Education bill
HF3051 (Dill) Acquired stream easement modified; state forest boundaries provided; property exemption provided; state forest provisions modified; exchange of lands permitted within the BWCA; public access acquisition moratorium established; Lake Vermilion State Park acquisition provided, state parks and forests added to and deleted from; and public and private sales, conveyances, and exchanges authorized.
HF3124 (Dill) Aquaculture provisions modified, provisions for taking, possessing, and transporting wild animals modified, fish and wildlife management plans requirements modified, and game and fish license provisions modified.

3:00 PM
Senate Economic Development and Housing Budget Division
Room: 107 Capitol
Chair: Sen. David J. Tomassoni
S.F. 3304-Cohen: Housing finance agency (HFA) affordable housing projects funding with mortgage registry tax and deed tax proceeds.
S.F. 3355-Tomassoni: Higher education securities transactions exemptions modifications; state grant program for secondary education appropriation.
S.F. 3273-Tomassoni: Challenge program bonds for affordable housing and permanent supportive housing authorization.

Looking Ahead

Thursday, May 6

9:00 AM
Senate Taxes
Room: 15 Capitol
Chair: Sen. Thomas M. Bakk
S.F. 3063-Stumpf: Career and technical education levy formula adjustment.
S.F. 3028-Stumpf: Pre-kindergarten through grade 12 education appropriations and appropriation reductions.

9:00 AM
Conference Committee on S.F. 2737
Room: 107 Capitol
Chairs: Sen. Dan Skogen and Rep. Al Juhnke
Agenda: S.F. 2737-Skogen: Omnibus agriculture and veterans policy bill.

9:30 AM
House State Government Finance
Room: Basement State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Phyllis Kahn
SF3134 (Kahn) State government programs or activities money appropriated or reduced, and provisions changed relating to expenses of governor-elect, income earned by the permanent school fund, lease-purchase agreements, general services, resource recovery, payment of aids and credits to school districts, tax return preparers, and implied consent.
**Testimony and amendments to the bill, as presented on 4/20, will be taken. If not completed before session, testimony and amendments will continue after session.

10:00 AM
Conference Committee on S.F. 863
Room: 112 Capitol
Chairs: Sen. Mary A. Olson and Rep. Joe Mullery
Agenda: S.F. 863-Olson, M.: Omnibus government data classifications provisions.

12:00 PM
House in Session

Tuesday, May 11

12:30 PM
Senate Higher Education Budget and Policy Division
Room: 123 Capitol
Chair: Sen. Sandra L. Pappas
University District Alliance report
HEFA confirmations

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