• Minnesota Weekly Legislative Update: 04/16/2010
  • April 26, 2010 | Authors: Richard A. Forschler; Kathryn S. Hahne; John H. Herman; Nancy B. Hylden
  • Law Firm: Faegre & Benson LLP - Minneapolis Office
  • This week, the Minnesota Legislature was relatively quiet as state officials evaluated how the federal health care reform and funding bills will be implemented. Legislative members are also preparing for the DFL and Republican state conventions.

    • The initial budget reduction bill signed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty last week included all budget divisions except Health and Human Services and K-12 Education. Lawmakers are now waiting to see what new federal funds they can incorporate into the state's budget. A $535 million shortfall remains to be addressed after the first round of budget reductions and the passage of the General Assistance Medical Care bill. Congress has not yet passed Medicaid assistance legislation, thus the state cannot calculate how much federal money to expect. This assistance could be as much as $400 million.
    • The legislative schedule for next week includes floor sessions on Monday and Wednesday. The omnibus tax bills are also expected to be put together early next week. Many members want to get as much work done as possible early in the week since both parties have their conventions during the last two weekends of April. The DFL state convention will be the weekend of April 23 in Duluth. The Republican convention is the following weekend, April 30, in Minneapolis. A similar floor session schedule is expected for the week before the Republican convention.
    • In response to Minnesota's failure in the first round of the federal education-related grant program "Race to the Top," Pawlenty has rolled out initiatives to improve the state's prospects in the next round. Minnesota's round-one application was criticized for its lack of alternative teacher licensure provisions and for not having educator evaluations linked to student success rates. Other improvements Minnesota could make include implementing a quality compensation system for all districts, authorizing the commissioner of education to intervene with underperforming schools, defining what a "highly effective teacher" is, and allowing districts and the state to deploy effective teachers to high-need schools. The next application is due June 10, and the Legislature may discuss these initiatives before adjourning on May 17.