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Lawmakers scramble to process bills

With lawmakers debating whether to adjourn this week or to keep going after the Easter break, the scramble of legislation and committee work has become even harder to follow than usual. Committees are sending individual bills to the floor while inserting the same language in multiple omnibus bills – even language that has already passed the House or Senate.

Here’s what we know about some problematic bills.

Shift payback: A conference committee removed controversial policy language from HF 2083, leaving only the proposal to repay $430 million of the $2.4 billion school aid shift by largely depleting the state’s budget reserve account. Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee passed a different shift-financing bill (HF 873) Friday, adding language that would dedicate racino proceeds to pay down the shift.

Staff development allocation: The House passed HF 2506, which abolishes the requirement for staff development revenue to be reserved in a 50-25-25 percent proportion for school sites, district-wide professional development and grants. The companion bill is pending in the Senate.

Education omnibus bills: There have been several. The latest, HF 2949, is scheduled on the House floor today. Its companion, SF 2482, was heard in Senate Finance today.

Provisions include language in the Senate bill that opens post-secondary enrollment options to 10th graders and 136 additional post-secondary providers, and allows post-secondary schools to advertise. The PSEO language is also on the Senate floor as a separate bill.

Both bills include a ban on school employees’ use of school facilities for political and election activities (which already passed the House as a separate bill). Other problematic items would lead to loss of school funding through an early graduation program and would limit bond referendums to once a year.

Online education: A bill requiring all students to take an online course to graduate passed the House floor Friday.

Education Minnesota is an affiliate of the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers and AFL-CIO.

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