Minnesota Legislative Updates

Capital SunsetThe following legislative update was written by Elaine Keefe, library lobbyist for the Minnesota Library Association (MLA) and Information Technology Educators of MN (ITEM). Being its near the end of the legislation season, this post contains 4 separate updates

Received Wednesday, May 13, 2015 at 10:08 PM

Our latest intelligence indicates that the Senate has offered to accept the House position on Legacy funding for regional public libraries.  This would mean that libraries would receive $4 million over the next two years, as compared to $6 million during the current two-year budget period.  If you have not already done so, please contact the members of the conference committee listed below.  In addition:

Please contact your Senator and ask him or her to urge Senator Cohen to uphold the Senate position on Legacy funding for libraries.  Your senator will likely assume that Senator Cohen will be fighting to uphold the Senate position, but we have strong reason to believe that Senator Cohen has said privately that he prefers the House position.

Please contact your House member and urge him or her to urge Rep. Urdahl to move to the Senate position on Legacy funding for libraries.  The Senate position is still $50,000 per year below current funding, but is substantially better than the House position.

Received Monday, May 11, 2015 at 4:45 PM

Legacy Conference Committee:  This afternoon the Legacy conference committee was appointed.  The ten members of the conference committee will negotiate the differences between the House and Senate Legacy bills over the next few days.

The Senate bill provides $2.95 million per year for regional public libraries.  The House bill provides $1.5 million in FY 16 and $2.5 million in FY 17.

Please contact the conferees  and ask them to support the Senate level of Legacy funding for libraries!

The conferees are listed below with their contact information:

Rep. Dean Urdahl (R – Grove City)
651-296-4344 or 800-920-5861

Rep. Denny McNamara  (R – Hastings)

Rep. Paul Torkelson (R – Hanska)
651-296-9303 or 888-727-3891

Rep. Josh Heintzeman (R-Nisswa)

Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL – Minneapolis)

Senator Dick Cohen (DFL – St. Paul)

Senator Bev Scalze (DFL – Little Canada)

Senator LeRoy Stumpf (DFL – Plummer)

Senator Katie Sieben (DFL – Newport)

Senator Michelle Fischbach (R – Paynesville)


Received Friday, May 8, 2015 at 3:42 PM

Education Conference Committee:  The education conference committee met this week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for about 3 hours each day.  The first meeting was spent having staff walk through the House and Senate bills.  The second meeting featured the completion of the staff walk through of the bills, followed by testimony on facilities, Q-comp and testing.  Yesterday’s meeting was devoted to hearing testimony on extended time revenue and early learning scholarships.

The committee will not meet again until Monday.  Thus far the meetings have been quite cordial and low-key.  Partly this reflects the personalities of the chairs, Senator Wiger and Rep. Loon, neither of whom has a penchant for drama.  The other factor is that the tough decision-making won’t get serious until House and Senate leaders and Governor Dayton agree on a budget target for education.   I do not expect that to happen until the middle of next week.

Legacy Bill:  Last night the Senate passed its version of the omnibus Legacy bill by a vote of 44-9.  In his remarks about the bill Senator Cohen acknowledged that two years ago when the Legacy bill was debated on the Senate floor, there was much concern expressed about the low level of funding for libraries, and that he had assured his fellow senators that it would be addressed in the conference committee, and it was.  Senator Cohen then pointed out that this year the Senate Legacy bill provides more funding for libraries than the House bill does – the first time that has ever happened.  It was great to see that the large number of e-mails you sent to your senators two years ago are still having an impact.


Received Tuesday, May 5, 2015 at 7:55am

The Legislature must adjourn on midnight on Monday, May 18,  just under two weeks from now.  Here is the latest news:

Senate Legacy Bill:  Yesterday the Senate’s omnibus Legacy bill was unveiled and passed out of the Legacy Subcommittee.  The bill appropriates 2.95 million per year for regional public libraries.  This is $50,000 less per year than the current appropriation from Legacy funds, but it is far better than the House Legacy appropriation of $1.5 million in FY 16 and $2.5 million in FY 17.  The Senate bill allocates $300,00 per year for the Minnesota Digital Library, which is the current level of funding.  The House Legacy bill provides $280,000 per year for MDL.  The Senate Legacy bill will be heard in the full Senate Finance Committee later today, where it is expected to be passed and sent to the Senate floor.

Education Conference Committee:  The education conference committee will meet for the first time this afternoon.  Typically the first meeting consists of a walk-through of the side-by-side comparison of the House and Senate bills.  You can find the side-by-side comparison for each article of the education bill here: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/side_by_sides/

Elaine Keefe
Capitol Hill Associates
525 Park Street, Suite 310
St. Paul, MN 55103
(cell) 612-590-1244

Image credit: http://tinyurl.com/p4m2ool, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0