This week the Republicans released their budget targets for each budget area. The next few weeks will be dominated by committee work as the Legislature puts together specific legislation to reflect these budget targets. Gov. Dayton signed two bills this week including the alternative teacher licensure bill.
- This week, House and Senate Republican leadership released their budget targets in response to the updated February budget forecast from last week. The Senate set a $34.26 billion dollar budget for the 2012-2013 biennium, while the House laid out a $34.36 billion target. Notable reductions are made to the State Government and Jobs and Economic Development areas of the budget, while both plans chose to continue the K-12 education shift. Republican leadership said their plan will provide tax relief, fulfill the goal of making the state live within its means, and offer opportunities for true reform. Democrats say the plan will hurt education and the most vulnerable Minnesotans, and will drive up property tax costs for local governments.
- The next deadline is midnight on March 25, when bills with any legislation with fiscal implications must be passed to the respective finance committees. On the House side this will be the Ways and Means Committee, and in the Senate bills must be reported to the full Finance Committee.
- On Monday, Gov. Dayton signed the alternative pathways to teacher licensure bill into law. The bill, which had bipartisan support, will now allow a nontraditional route to teacher licensure for a two-year license with an optional third year and full licensure eligibility. The bill authors, Sen. Gen Olson and Rep. Pat Garafalo, were present at the bill signing for Chapter 5, under the 2011 session law. Governor Dayton also signed a bill which allows for a 13-week extension for unemployment benefits and is 100 percent federally funded.
- On Thursday, the Senate confirmed its first commissioner, Major Gen. Larry Shellito, as the Commissioner of Veteran Affairs. In other news, Sen. Ellen Anderson (DFL-Saint Paul) was appointed by Gov. Dayton to chair the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The Minnesota PUC regulates the natural gas, telephone, and electricity industries in the state. To read a biography on Ellen Anderson, and a list of other appointments, click here. There will be a special primary for senate district 66 on Tuesday, March 29, and the general election is set for Tuesday, April 12.
- On Wednesday, a moment of silence was held in the House for former Chief Clerk, Ed Burdick, who passed away that morning. A 62-year employee of the House, and a nationally recognized parliamentary procedure expert, Burdick began his career as a page in 1941. Two years later he was named chief page and became an assistant at the front desk in 1947. He was named chief clerk in 1967 and only missed one session for active military duty in 1951.