MSBA Weekly Advocate

January 30, 2023: Many education-related bills on committee dockets this week at the Minnesota Legislature

Each week the committees hear many bills that impact education. This week committees in both the House and Senate will hear bills that impact school boards directly, bills that MSBA members have long advocated on behalf of, and some bills’ subject matter that has recently passed our Delegate Assembly (and MSBA has a legislative policy on the topic). For your reference, please see the topics in bold below.Please view the new bill introductions included toward the bottom of this Weekly Advocate update. In addition, here is a preview of bills that will be heard in committee this week. You can also view the entire week’s schedule and find links to the bills and to watch hearings on the legislative calendar.Monday, January 30

  • The Senate Education Finance Committee was scheduled at 10:30 a.m. today to discuss confirmation of Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Willie Jett, American Indian regalia or objects of cultural significance at graduation ceremonies permission, and lead testing and remediation requirements in schools.

Tuesday, January 31

  • School board renewal of an expired referendum in the Senate Education Finance Committee at 8:30 a.m.
  • Special education services fully funded and full-service community schools funding provided in the House Education Finance Committee at 10:30 a.m.
  • Overview of graduation standards, physical education standards review delayed, presentation on the state of Minnesota’s changing educational demographics and school-related active transportation policy provisions governed in the House Education Policy Committee at 3 p.m.

Wednesday, February 1

  • English learner programming funding increased, English learner cross-subsidy aid added, and student personnel aid established in House Education Finance Committee at 10:30 a.m.
  • Teachers of Color Act, comprehensive school mental health services lead positions at MDE and school board publishing certain information about consulting fees requirement in Senate Education Policy Committee at 12:30 p.m.
  • Paraprofessional paid orientation required, informational hearing on educational options and flexibility for student learning and high school students allowed to earn elective credits through employment with health care providers in the House Education Policy Committee at 3 p.m.

Thursday, February 2

  • A joint hearing on early childhood for Senate Education Finance and Health and Human Services committees at 8:30 a.m.
  • Expansion of voluntary prekindergarten and school readiness plus program made permanent, Emergency medical service course grant, and school board authorized to renew expiring referendum in the House Education Finance Committee at 10:30 a.m.

 

MSBA is tracking the Paid Family Medical Leave bill

MSBA continues to follow Paid Family Medical Leave (HF 2/SF 2). This bill is moving very quickly in both bodies. The bill will be heard in the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law and in the Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection on Tuesday. MSBA testified last week in the House Workforce Development Finance and Policy committee.To review, the bill creates an insurance program, much like unemployment insurance, where both employees and employers make payroll contributions. Paid Family and Medical Leave is for events lasting longer than seven days, such as bonding with a new baby, recovering from a serious injury or caring for family members. Employees would be able to take up to 12 weeks paid time off for illness for themselves or a family member and an additional 12 weeks for parental bonding leave.MSBA has been discussing this bill with the authors, specifically about concerns dealing with how the employer costs would be paid for and the time teachers and staff could be out of the classroom. To summarize MSBA’s testimony, the main points for school districts are:

  • The primary concern is the cost to schools. School boards do not have the authority to levy for the funds that would be needed to cover the employer cost of HF2. The funds would need to come out of the general fund, in other words, our classrooms.
  • The premium rate has already increased from 0.65 in previous bills to 0.70. We are concerned that this will continue to climb causing instability in district finance forecasting.
  • How would this bill be implemented and interact with collective bargaining? If passed, would this statewide benefit be a part of the local bargaining negotiations, supersede previous contracts negotiations or both? It’s important to note that our collective bargaining process works well and provides an excellent benefit to many groups and individuals.
  • A greater need for substitutes – both teachers and staff – an added cost in salary and benefits on top of the insurance premiums. Districts are struggling with hiring and retaining teachers and substitutes.
  • A quality education, positive student outcomes and learning recovery depends on maintaining consistency and continuity and having highly qualified teachers in our classrooms. These are key components to our job, educating students.
  • Learning could be impacted. Our students are in school approximately 33 weeks. As we understand the bill, teachers or staff could be out of our classrooms for 12 or 24 weeks.

MSBA would like the author(s) of the bill to consider:

  • State aid for the employer portion of the premium
  • Authorizing employers to require a partial buy down of accrued leave
  • Clarifying language regarding the employee charge back to delineate that employees are responsible for 50 percent of the premium cost unless an employer opts to pay more.
  • Hearing SF 2 in the education finance committee to further discuss the impact to school districts.

A similar bill for earned safe and sick time (ESS) (HF 19) is moving through committees as well. HF 19 would require employers to allow employees to earn, at a minimum, one hour of paid ESS time for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 48 hours per year, unless an employer agrees to provide more. Employers must allow employees to carry over accrued but unused ESS time from year to year – not to exceed a maximum of 80 hours – unless they pay out those hours or provide a more generous policy. We are always looking for board members to testify on behalf of MSBA. If there is a subject that interests you, please reach out to us at teamgr@mnmsba.org.

 

Review the most recent education-related bills introduced at the Minnesota Legislature

Visit the MSBA Advocate webpage to view the education-related bills that were introduced in the Minnesota Legislature last week.

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