The legislative session continues to heat up as various bills face debates on the House and Senate floors. The most notable is the Safe and Supportive Schools Act which is up for consideration, and we’ll be hearing results in the next few days. If passed at the Senate level, the bill would then go to the House for their approval.
In the meantime, the House will be discussing their finance package today. It includes
$75 million new dollars for schools. A portion of the House version will provide an additional 1 percent to the general education formula. These are dollars that will benefit every district in this state. Once approved by the House, it will be debated with the Senate which has $41 million budgeted for education. The majority of Senate proposed dollars is earmarked for early childhood education and scholarships.
I do not consider myself an excellent driver. I am good, or maybe just okay – around a B-minus to a C-plus if I were giving out grades. I am not great at maneuvering into tight parking spaces or knowing when it is my turn at a four-way stop. I am unsure of the direction to rotate my steering wheel when parking on a hill. Despite my shortfalls, I do understand roadway etiquette, or the unwritten standards of protocol every license-wielding driver should abide by. Trouble is, lots of them don’t.
And we all know who they are. (Certainly not us, not ever.)
Based on my near-death-due-to-frustration driving experiences over the past week, I decided to lay it out here. To put the pedal to the metal and tell it like it is. To provide the rules of the road, which aren’t rules, exactly, because most of them aren’t in any driving manual or rulebook, but they should be.
First, let’s talk texting. We understand we aren’t supposed to text and drive. We’ve taken the pledge. Still, I observe people doing it all the time. This is because the windows in your vehicle are transparent. I can see right through them. Being inside your car does not shield you in a cloak of invisibility. I can see when you pick your nose. I can see when you sing to the radio. I can see when you are texting; even if your phone is on your lap, your head is bent downward in the universal gesture of distraction. Stop it. Now. (Please.)
No Bonding Bill yet
The Senate Capital Investment committee is not scheduled to meet until April 8 and 9, when they will discuss transportation, Department of Human Resources and Department of Corrections bonding priorities. The Governor’s proposal spends $990 million and The House proposal spends $1.340 billion. Sen. Stumpf, Chair of the Capital Investment Committee hasn’t introduced a bill yet.
Gov. Dayton and legislative leaders have informally agreed to keep this year’s bonding bill in the range of $850 million.
Minimum Wage in the Constitution?
Last Friday the Jobs, Ag and Rural Development Committee heard a bill that would allow for a constitutional question on November’s ballot. The question would ask voters if they would support a minimum wage of $10 by Jan. 1, 2015, indexed with inflation each year. The bill had broad bipartisan opposition from testimony in Committee but passed on a party-line vote, and was re-referred to the Rules Committee. The House has indicated that they have no intention of taking up this bill.
I’d like to keep you informed of the most recent updates in the legislative session that started in late February. Last week marked the first deadlines for all bills that are expected to move forward with their respective committees in either the House or Senate. Bills that haven’t been heard yet have a much harder time moving forward. This is also a critical time in the legislative process where we learn more about priorities as the focus is turned toward budgets and the cost of implementing new bills.
The House and Senate recently passed the Senate tax bill, which includes the Local Optional Revenue (LOR), formerly known as Location Equity Revenue (LER) and was signed by Governor Dayton earlier in the week. This new bill provides local school boards with the authority to levy up to $424 per pupil unit as early as 2016. The estimated cost to Minnesota would be 47 million, and the projected revenues to pay for the bill would be 22 million in state aid and another 25 million in levy. At this point, the EV-W school district has an $820 per-pupil levy in place through 2017. I’ll be digging into the details of LOR to determine any advantages or disadvantages for the school district and its residents.
From Senior Dining
There was a lot of scurrying around at the dining site as a committee made up of diners and myself made plans to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Senior Dining in Kimball. Our site is the only original site in Central Minnesota still open.
Many hours were spent reading and/or looking through the scrapbooks that had been kept from the beginning. Upon learning what was served for the first meal and what the suggested contribution was, I thought it would be neat if we could repeat both. I mentioned it to my supervisor, Shari Grebinoski. Following procedure, I put in a special request and was thrilled when it was approved. Therefore, the diners were served spareribs (boneless, mind you), mashed potatoes, sauerkraut, fruit cocktail, and Jell-O cubes with whipped cream. Only compliments were heard and guess what they’d like to have on the menu again?