Weekly Summarized Legislative Updates

Date:    February 15, 2013

Memo to:    SEIU Local 284, All Staff

From:    Libby Kantner

Re:        Political Update

Things are starting to pick up at the Capitol. This week the major topics of conversation around education were (a) increasing funding for reduced-price and free lunch, (b) how quickly to pay back the funding shift to K-12 education, (c) early education proposals and (d) a possible bill for state-wide health insurance pooling for school employees.

DFL legislators have called for increased funding for reduced-price and free lunch programs in an effort to eliminate “turn-away” policies statewide. Good discussion was had about how to enforce payment policies without punishing or humiliating students. The bills were laid over for possible inclusion in the omnibus bill.

Schools for Equity in Education, Education Minnesota and Metropolitan School Districts all lobbied against both Rep. Selcer’s and Rep. Woodard’s bills to pay back the shift this biennium. They argued that school districts would rather see new money allocated to them than money that they’ve already accounted for. It would eliminate new money if the shift was paid back this biennium, and the groups above stressed that that was the priority.

In order to pass a statewide health insurance pooling bill we need to let our legislators know how this would affect us. Please encourage members to share their stories about what is happening with their insurance premiums, deductibles and benefits and how that affects them and their family. The stories will be compiled and given to legislators. Please be sure that information that is collected is accurate.

We had meetings with several legislators this week and support continues to grow for the General Education Levy. One major weakness we’ve discovered with the GEL is the lack of education legislators have around it. Legislators are concerned that this would be an across the board property tax increase. We need to let them know that the general education levy would mean property tax relief. The general education levy would mean property tax fairness. The general education would allow the state to share the burden of educating our children equally.

Tuesday night several SEIU Local 284 members and several other members of the labor community attended a town hall with Senator Franzen and Representative Rosenthal. Although we didn’t have a chance to ask our questions during the town hall portion, we got chance to talk to the legislators afterwards about our legislative priorities. Looking out across the room and seeing the flash of labor buttons was very powerful.

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