Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Session concludes with no deal; What comes next?

The Legislature is heading into overtime. Both bodies worked up until midnight, the House debating the Outdoor Legacy funding bill (which never received a vote due to time running out) and the Senate delivering end-of-session speeches. Gov. Dayton and Republican legislative leaders were unable to reach a budget deal, which means Dayton will need to call lawmakers back to St. Paul in order to pass a balanced budget before July 1, which is the start of fiscal year 2012. Dayton has indicated that he would not call lawmakers back right away, but rather wait until he and Republican leaders have a framework in which to resolve the budget deficit.

The higher education finance bill was tied up with the other finance bills while a global agreement on the budget was being negotiated. Dayton has indicated he will veto the budget bills, and has until Wednesday to do so. Republican leaders have scheduled a fly-around tomorrow urging Dayton to sign their budget bills. Lawmakers passed some legislation that affects the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. Once the higher education finance bill and other bills affecting the system pass, we will send out a more complete summary.

Agriculture Omnibus Finance bill - includes $94,000 for both years of the biennium for statewide mental health counseling support to farm families and business operators through farm business management programs at Central Lakes College and Ridgewater College.

Omnibus Liquor bill - included in the bill is a provision that removes outdated area of service language for public state universities. M.S. 340A.412 states that no license to sell liquor may be issued within 1,500 feet of a state university with certain exceptions near Minnesota State Colleges and Universities state universities. The liquor license prohibition was removed.

Teacher Candidates Basic Skills Exam bill - current law requires candidates for teacher licensure to pass a basic skills test in reading, writing and math, and provides for three years after receiving an initial teaching license to pass the exam. This bill requires candidates for teacher licensure pass the basic skills test before being granted an initial teaching license.

Alternative Teacher Preparation bill - provides for alternative pathways to becoming a licensed teacher. Alternative licensure candidates who meet all criteria would be granted a two-year limited license, which the Board of Teaching may renew for an additional year. Candidates must have a 3.0 or higher grade-point average or a waiver from the Board; pass basic reading, writing and math skills exams; and obtain qualifying scores on board-approved content and pedagogy exams.

State Agency Retained Savings Program bill - this bill establishes the State Agency Value Initiative, or SAVI program, to identify cost-effective and efficiency measures in agency programs and operations that result in cost savings for the state. All state agencies, including Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, may participate in this program.

We will continue to keep you updated with the legislative activity surrounding the higher education finance bill and other legislation as it relates to the system.

Attached please find the bill introductions from the 2011 regular session that affect the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. A final document with the status of each bill will be sent out in the next few weeks.

The 2012 legislative session is scheduled to begin Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at noon.

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