Tag Archives: Legislation

Library legislative update: 6/10/16

State CapitolThe following legislative updates were written by Elaine Keefe, library lobbyist for the Minnesota Library Association (MLA) and Information Technology Educators of MN (ITEM). CMLE helps pay this lobbyist to serve the best interests of academic, K-12, public, and special libraries in Central MN (Latest information is at the top)

Received Friday, June 10, 2016 at 7:17 p.m.

Tax Bill Veto:  On Monday of this week, Governor Dayton pocket-vetoed the omnibus tax bill by taking no action on the bill before the 14 day deadline.  His veto was due to concerns about an error in a section of the bill relating to charitable gambling taxes that would have cost the state $101 million in lost revenue over the next three years.  The main item of interest to libraries in the tax bill is an increase in aid to cities and counties.

Special Session Outlook:  On Tuesday, Governor Dayton met with three of the four legislative caucus leaders (Senator Bakk, Speaker Daudt and Rep. Thissen; Senator Hann chose not to attend) to discuss a possible special session to pass a bonding bill, a corrected tax bill and some additional budget items that the governor would like to see enacted.  The meeting was brief and nothing was resolved.  Reportedly they plan to meet again sometime in the middle of next week.

Since then Governor Dayton has been traveling across the state to drum up public support for his priorities for a special session.  High on the governor’s list is a transportation funding package that includes transit in the metro area, which is very controversial with House Republicans.

Bonding Bill:  As I have previously reported, House and Senate negotiators agreed on a $1.1 billion bonding bill on the last day of session.  The bill passed the House, but time ran out before it could pass the Senate.  Later it was discovered that there were a number of projects that appeared on the spreadsheet, but were not actually included in the bill (this was not the case for any library projects).

Governor Dayton and legislative leaders are eager to pass a bonding bill during a special session, but reaching agreement will not be easy.  Speaker Daudt has said that the House will revert to its original position of a $600 million bonding bill (even though they never actually brought a bill of that size to the House floor), while Governor Dayton has demanded the inclusion of $183 million for projects that were left out of the bill agreed to by the conference committee.

Bonding Conference Committee Hearing:  On Tuesday, June 14 the bonding bill conference committee will meet from 1-4pmin room 10 of the State Office Building.  The purpose of the hearing is to review the conference committee agreement and take public testimony.  I expect the discussion to focus on the more controversial projects and those that were included on the spreadsheet but left out of the bill.  We will keep you posted.

Elaine Keefe

Capitol Hill Associates
525 Park Street, Suite 255
St. Paul, MN 55103
(cell) 612-590-1244
elaine@capitolhillassoc.com

 

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

End of session legislative updates

State CapitolThe following legislative updates were written by Elaine Keefe, library lobbyist for the Minnesota Library Association (MLA) and Information Technology Educators of MN (ITEM). CMLE helps pay for lobbyist services in order to serve the best interests of academic, K-12, public, and special libraries in Central MN. (Latest information is at the top of this post)

Received Monday, May 23, 2016 at 3:30 p.m.

The 2016 legislative session has ended with very mixed results.  Last night the Legislature passed the omnibus tax bill and the omnibus supplemental budget bill.  However, as noted in my previous message, the Legislature failed to pass the bonding bill before the midnight deadline for passing bills.

Governor Dayton held a press conference a few minutes ago and indicated he has not yet decided whether to call a special session.  He said that he and legislative leaders need time to get some rest and assess the situation.

Bonding Bill:  The bonding conference committee reached agreement on a $1.135 billion bill on Sunday evening, just a few hours before the midnight deadline for passing bills.  The bill included $2 million for Library Construction Grants and $820,000 for the library at the Minnesota state Career and Technical College in Wadena. It did not include funding for the new East Central Regional Library headquarters/Cambridge Library, the Bagley Library or the Eastside Freedom Library.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 91-39.  It was amended in the Senate to raise the limit on how much the Metropolitan Council could contribute to a rail project (clearly aimed at the Southwest Light Rail Transit line) before passing by a vote of 53-12.  Because the bill had been amended on the Senate floor, it had to go back to the House for a final vote, but before that happened the House adjourned.  It was messy and chaotic and House and Senate leaders are blaming each other for the failure of the bonding bill to make it across the finish line.

Supplemental Budget Bill:  The budget bill spends a total of $182 million.  It includes $35 million for Border to Border Broadband Grants and  $500,000 for grants of up to $50,000 to K-12 schools for broadband Wi-Fi Hotspots.  It does not include an increase in total operating capital and does not provide any funding for after school programs.

Omnibus Tax Bill:  The tax bill increases aid to cities by $20 million per year and increases aid to counties by $10 million per year.

Legacy Bill:  The Legacy bill dealt mainly with appropriations for the Outdoor Heritage Fund, for which appropriations are made annually rather than for the biennium.  However, we were keeping an eye on one piece of language designed to reinforce the idea that Legacy funds are meant to supplement, not supplant, previous funding.  The original language in the House bill was rather awkward, as a couple of you pointed out to me.  The final version included in the bill is much more clear.  It states:

“Any state agency or organization requesting a direct appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund must inform the house of representatives and senate committees having jurisdiction over the arts and cultural heritage fund, at the time the request for funding is made, whether the request is supplanting or is a substitution for any previous funding that was not from a legacy fund and was used for the same purpose.”

Received Thursday, May 19, 2016 at 5:29 p.m.

End of Session Negotiations:  There is still no agreement between legislative leaders and Governor Dayton on targets for the supplemental budget, taxes and transportation.  It remains to be seen whether they will reach an agreement in time to get the bills passed before the end of the session.  Session must end by midnight on Monday, but the Legislature cannot pass bills on the day of adjournment.  This means that bills must be passed by midnight on Sunday night.

Bonding Bill:  Today the House bonding bill failed on the House floor.  A 3/5 supermajority is required to pass a bonding bill, which means 81 votes are required to pass the House.  The bill only received 69 votes.  All but two DFLers voted against the bill, while all but 5 Republicans voted for the bill.  DFLers complained that the bill was too small and that projects in DFL districts had been passed over in favor of projects in Republican districts.

However, a conference committee has been appointed for HF 748, a bill from last year that will be used as a vehicle for a bonding bill.  This is a highly unusual twist in the legislative process.

The Senate conferees are Senator LeRoy Stumpf (DFL – Plummer), Senator Katie Sieben (DFL – Cottage Grove), Senator Jeff Hayden (DFL – Minneapolis), Senator David Tomassoni (DFL – Chisholm) and Senator Carla Nelson (R – Rochester).

The House conferees are Rep. Paul Torkelson (R – Hanska), Rep. Tony Albright (R – Prior Lake), Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R – Ghent), Rep. Bob Vogel (R- Elko New Market) and Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL – St. Paul).

According to a press release issued by the Senate DFL Caucus this afternoon, the conference committee will consider portions of the House, Senate and Governor’s bonding proposals.  No meetings have been scheduled for the conference committee as of this writing.

Elaine Keefe
Capitol Hill Associates
525 Park Street, Suite 255
St. Paul, MN 55103
(cell) 612-590-1244
elaine@capitolhillassoc.com

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

Library legislative update: 5/15/16

State CapitolThe following legislative updates were written by Elaine Keefe, library lobbyist for the Minnesota Library Association (MLA) and Information Technology Educators of MN (ITEM). CMLE helps pay this lobbyist to serve the best interests of academic, K-12, public, and special libraries in Central MN. (Latest information is at the top)

Received Tuesday, May 18, 2016 at 1:19 a.m.
Good news!  The House is scheduled to release its bonding bill tomorrow morning (May18), and it will include $2 million for Library Construction Grants.  This is great news, given that the total House bonding proposal is slightly under $800 million.  Thank you to all of you who contacted your representatives to ask them to include funding for Library Construction Grants in the bonding bill!

Received Sunday, May 15, 2016 at 4:19 PM

End of Session Negotiations:  The legislative session is nearing the end.  Legislators must adjourn no later than Monday, May 23.  Since they cannot pass bills on the final day, time is running short for Governor Dayton and legislative leaders to reach agreement on transportation, taxes, a supplemental budget bill and a bonding bill.  They met twice last week and so far all they have agreed upon is that they want to reach an agreement on a transportation package before working on the other three bills.  Governor Dayton plans to present a compromise proposal on Monday.

Bonding Bill:  The Senate’s bonding bill, which spent a total of $1.8 billion, failed on the Senate floor by 1 vote.  Bonding bills require a supermajority of 3/5, which means 41 votes are needed to pass the Senate.  The bill only received 40 votes.  Only 1 Republican, Senator Carla Nelson of Rochester, voted for the bill.

During the debate Republicans offered a bonding bill of their own, which spent $992 million.  It cut funding for Library Construction Grants to $1 million and eliminated funding for the new East Central Regional Library headquarters/Cambridge Library and the Bagley Public Library.  The proposal only garnered 18 votes.

House Republicans still have not brought forward a bonding bill.  They originally said they wanted to spend only $600 million, but Speaker Daudt admitted to reporters that a bill of that size will not get the 81 votes needed to pass the House.  This prompted Senate Majority Leader Bakk to observe that the Senate bill is too big to pass and the House bill is too small to pass.  If a bonding bill does pass this session, it will need to be somewhere in between.

A bill significantly smaller than the Senate bill with more emphasis on transportation projects is likely to come out of the House, and that could mean no funding for Library Construction Grants.  Now is the time for members of the House to hear from you.

PLEASE contact your representatives in the House and urge them to make sure that Library Construction Grants are included in the House bonding bill!

 Supplemental Budget (HF 2749):  A ten member conference committee is negotiating a 600 page omnibus supplemental budget bill.  The conferees met three times last week to have staff walk through a side by side comparison of the provisions in the House and Senate bills.  Another meeting is scheduled for 6pm tonight (Sunday).  Negotiations on budget items cannot get serious until Governor Dayton and legislative leaders agree on how much spending will be included in the bill.  That will depend on how much is spent on transportation, which is being negotiated in a separate conference committee.  As a reminder, the items we are following in the supplemental budget conference committee are Border to Border Broadband grants, K-12 broadband grants, total operating capital and after school funding.  See my April 29 update for details.

Elaine Keefe
Capitol Hill Associates
525 Park Street, Suite 255
St. Paul, MN 55103
(cell) 612-590-1244
elaine@capitolhillassoc.com

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

 

From the Director

PPphotoI cannot believe we are once again staring down the end of another academic year!  My social media world reminds me that many of you are pushing through grueling testing in the K-12 schools, enduring exhausting budgeting exercises when there simply isn’t enough money, and yes, some of you are defending your jobs too. Welcome to spring in library land. Oh wait, I forgot pending legislation!

Legislatively, it doesn’t help that although the state has a wonderful budget surplus of $1.8 billion for the first time in years,  funding to K-12 education AND libraries will probably not happen in any meaningful way this year (I don’t equate the current 1% increase for K-12 education meaningful). There are many opinions about why this might be. Last year,  the heavy price tag to the state for all-day kindergarten did us no favors. And, the Governor’s push for statewide Pre-K this year, may have pushed too far, and fueled the legislator’s need to block the Governor on yet another pricey education improvement. Personally, I am not sure we were quite ready for another budget item of this size, and I am not sure the schools were ready for it either. Unfortunately, all education related funding (including libraries and multitype systems) get punished when all of our requests are included in a big old education omnibus bill. When things get adversarial, unfortunately we all lose! And, let’s not forget the students, what price will they pay?

On a positive note, I also see good things this time of year!

  • Summer reading lists and hammock plans are growing,
  • We only see snow showers occasionally each week, and
  • Great summer events like the MidMN EdCamp in St. Cloud are taking on an exciting life of their own. CMLE is a sponsor of this event, and we are hoping to see you there!
  • And, I see that 152 people in Central MN took time out of busy schedules to participate in our 2015 CMLE Needs Assessment. To those people, thank you; we are prepared to suit up and serve the expressed needs of the majority of respondents!

Doing a Needs Assessment is an emotional roller coaster much like a legislative session!  As you can imagine, trying to determine and/or serve the needs of almost 800 people in 320 locations is a tall order, and you can only ask for the information if you are brave enough to face it! We are happy to see that 85% of our audience is receiving our weekly email that acts as a launching pad for important library information. Help us discover who we might be missing. We saw few surprises in your use of social media, but still think Twitter is underutilized as a collaboration tool  with colleagues. Our Tech Bits and Ideas category of information was rated highest which fulfilled our hunch this year when we added it to the Weekly Review lineup. The open ended questions are the hardest….we hear worried, isolated, and exhausted voices in some of those responses. CMLE will continue to listen, support you,  and respond! Thank you for the important work you do in Minnesota libraryland and watch for the next installment of Needs Assessment data next week. Did you miss this weeks results?

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Infographic: What do the MN multitypes do?

multitype_infographic_p1The MN multicounty, multitype library systems play an important role in the statewide fabric of libraries, but it is sometimes hard to explain exactly how.  Why? While we all have some common focus areas, we are also tasked with responding to specific needs in our respective regions. So services can vary by region. In the case of CMLE, we respond to the needs of 320 libraries in 12 counties in Central MN. Does this sound like a tall order? Why yes it is, and the hardest part is gathering up a good picture of the regional needs. Stay tuned for a member needs assessment coming soon, where we will give you an opportunity to provide input. For now, feel free to get the big picture of multitypes by taking a look at the infographic we recently created to help legislators understand the work we do. Multitype funding has been flat for eight years, so we are making the case for a funding increase, and hope we are successful. If we are, lots of exciting possibilities are on the seven multitype wish lists!