**This legislative update was written by Elaine Keefe, library lobbyist for the Minnesota Library Association (MLA) and MEMO/ITEM**
Received: Sun 3/16/2014 at 6:04PM
The already very hectic pace at the Capitol will accelerate this week. Friday, March 21, is the first committee deadline. By the end of this week, most bills will be dead for the legislative session. In order to remain alive, a bill must have been passed by all of the policy committees it needs to go to and either be referred to a finance committee or awaiting floor action. As a practical matter this means there will be long committee hearing agendas filled with bills racing against the Friday deadline, and hearings will last well into the evening.
House Budget Targets: House leaders released their budget targets on Friday, and the House Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to adopt them on Monday. The targets call for $550 million in tax cuts, $488 million in new spending and leaving $195 million on the bottom line. Of the $488 million in new spending, $17 million will go to to higher education and $75 million will go to E-12 education, where the priorities are listed as funding for teacher evaluations, expanded access to high quality early learning opportunities and making reduced-price lunches free. The targets also include debt service for a bonding bill of $850 million plus another $125 million in cash for capital projects, bringing the total for capital investment to $975 million.
Omnibus Policy and Budget Bills: Committees will begin rolling out their omnibus bills and taking action on them this week, which is well ahead of the usual schedule. Both the House Education Policy Committee and its counterpart, the Senate Education Committee, plan to unveil their omnibus education policy bills, mark them up and pass them out of committee this week. The House Tax Committee will unveil its omnibus tax bill on Thursday. Senator Rod Skoe, chair of the Senate Tax Committee, told MPR that this week he plans to unveil the omnibus tax bill, pass it out of committee and pass it on the Senate floor on Friday. The other omnibus budget bills, including the Senate E-12 Education Budget bill and the House Education Finance bill, are expected to be unveiled and passed out of committee the following week.
Telecommunications Equity Aid (HF 2696 / SF 2167): Last Tuesday our bill was heard in the House Education Finance Committee. Mary Mehsikomer and Marc Johnson did a great job of testifying. The Senate companion will be heard in the Senate E-12 Education Budget Division this Thursday, March 20 at 8:30am.
Data Privacy: Last week I reported that HF 2138, Rep. Mary Liz Holberg’s bill requiring government databases to be able to track the identities of users accessing confidential data and the date, time and purpose for which the access occurred, was scheduled to be heard on Wednesday, March 12. I spoke with Rep. Holberg about the library communities’ concerns and followed up with a more detailed e-mail. The night before the hearing she sent me a message that she was going to pull the bill from the agenda. A big thanks to Mark Ranum, who was prepared to testify on the bill and who also provided the information that went into my detailed message to Rep. Holberg. Rep. Holberg is retiring from the Legislature this year, so I am hopeful we will not need to confront this particular bill in the future.
The other data privacy bill is one that we support, and it is making excellent progress. I am referring to HF 2167 / SF 1770, the bill requiring vendors handling confidential data to abide by the data practices act as if it were a government entity, regardless of whether the contract includes notice of this requirement. SF 1770 passed the Senate State and Local Government Committee on Wednesday afternoon and was sent to the floor. Its House companion is already on the House floor.
Capitol Hill Associates
525 Park Street, Suite 310
St. Paul, MN 55103