Saturday, May 8, 2010

Legislators to meet today on budget

Yesterday at the Capitol

Yesterday in the House Finance committee members approved a bill sponsored by Rep. Lyndon Carlson, DFL-Crystal, and Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, HF1893/ SF1679, which lays out retirement eligibility for state authorities to provide employees the option to take early retirement before June 30, 2011. Eligible for early retirement are those employed in the legislative, executive and judicial branches, including the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and the University of Minnesota. The bill is now on the House floor. The Senate passed its version 44-19 on May 13, 2009.

Also meeting yesterday was the House Ways and Means committee who took up the omnibus K-12 education bill. Committee members discussed the controversial alternative teacher licensure language and rejected an amendment that would have deleted one of the two provisions in the bill. The bill now heads to the House floor.

The provision members tried unsuccessfully to remove from the bill would allow the Board of Teaching to offer limited two-year licensure for certain teacher candidates, such as Teach for America members, who have a bachelor’s degree and meet other criteria. It would require 200 hours of instructional time before classroom placement, then supervision by an on-site team.

A second alternative teacher licensure provision in the bill targets mid-career changers. It stipulates 200 hours of pre-classroom instruction, plus 12 weeks of closely supervised student teaching, and would narrow the scope of situations where alternatively licensed teachers may work.

The bill includes other policy and funding reform proposals, including a provision that would codify about $1.8 billion of school aid payment shifts made by Gov. Tim Pawlenty last year. In the Senate there are 3 companion bills awaiting action: SF3189, the policy omnibus bill, which awaits action by the Senate Rules and Administration Committee; and education finance bills SF3063 and SF3028, which await action by the full Senate.

As reported in yesterday's weekly update, House members were debating an amendment that would ratify Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s unallotments on the House floor. That amendment failed 27-105. Rep. Terry Morrow, DFL-St. Peter, offered an amendment to HF 2960, that would have reduced certain state agencies operating expenses for the current biennium. Rep. Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm, offered an amendment to Morrow’s amendment to ratify the governor’s 2009 unallotments that the Minnesota Supreme Court overturned Wednesday. House Minority Leader Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said the amendment was "gotcha politics again." He said he could not support the ratification without seeing how the majority party would balance the remainder of the budget. "This isn’t a gotcha vote, this is the governor’s proposal that he asked us to vote on. Let’s see if his proposal has the support of the Legislature," Sertich responded.

Today at the Capitol

The Senate is scheduled to meet this morning at 9:30. Also meeting today are:

8:30 AM
Senate Finance
Room: 15 Capitol
Chair: Sen. Richard J. Cohen
S.F. 3175-Anderson: Indoor ice arenas electronic air monitoring devices
requirement and air quality standards.
S.F. 3355-Tomassoni: Higher education securities transactions
exemptions modifications; state grant program for secondary education
H.F. 2037-Cohen: General fund dedicated revenues appropriations
S.F. 2567-Cohen: Nursing facility rate provision modification.

12:00 PM (or call of the chair)
Conference Committee on S.F. 2918
Room: 112 Capitol
Chairs: Sen. Don Betzold and Rep. Mary Murphy
Agenda: S.F. 2918-Betzold: Omnibus retirement bill.

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