Federal Advocacy & Weekly Policy Update

Congressional Update – September 17, 2019

Congress Nears New Fiscal Year Without Budget in Place

The beginning of the next fiscal year is only two weeks away, but Congress has not completed work on the annual spending bills that fund government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Education. Compounding this problem, the Senate Appropriations Committee abruptly cancelled work that was planned for this week on the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and related Agencies spending bill, after a dispute arose over controversial policy “riders” or “poison pills” as they are often referred to in the media. To provide additional time for legislators to negotiate, congressional leaders are working to pass a “continuing resolution” to complete the fiscal year 2020 spending process. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) suggested that this temporary extension of fiscal year 2019 funding levels will last until November 21, but no official statement about the stopgap spending bill has been publicly released by House or Senate leaders. MSBA and NSBA are continuing to work independently and with our national partners to champion funding for the major education formula programs, including ESSA, Title I and II, IDEA Part B, and other key funding streams for school districts.

Senate Appropriation Committee Releases Proposed Fiscal Year 2020 Spending

The Senate Appropriations Committee adopted fiscal year 2020 proposed spending levels for all 12 annual spending bills this week:

    • Agriculture-FDA: $23.1 billion
    • Financial Services: $24.2 billion
    • Commerce-Justice-Science: $78.9 billion
    • Defense: $693 billion
    • Labor-HHS-Education: $187.7 billion (a 1.04% increase compared to FY’19)
    • Homeland Security: $53.4 billion
    • Energy-Water: $48.9 billion
    • Interior-Environment: $35.8 billion
    • State-Foreign Operations: $55 billion
    • Transportation-HUD:$74.3 billion
    • Military Construction-VA: $105.5 billion
    • Legislative Branch: $5.1 billion

The amount allocated for the Labor-HHS-Education bill is approximately 5% below the total provided in the similar House-passed bill. This significant gap will set the stage for difficult House-Senate negotiations later in the appropriations process. MSBA and NSBA will be fighting hard for the House approved level.

House Education and Labor Committee Democrats Publish Equity Report

Democrats of the House Education and Labor Committee, led by Chairman Bobby Scott, published a report this week titled “Investing in Economic Mobility: The Important Role of HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs in Closing Racial and Wealth Gaps in Higher Education” focusing on funding levels.  The report notes that funding levels have consistently fallen short of what is needed to fulfill the promise of the Higher Education Act (HEA) to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs).   The report notes that Congress “must provide the resources and support necessary to ensure historically underserved students access and complete college.”

 Appropriations Subcommittees Plan Children’s Mental Health and STEM Hearings

The House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee will hold a hearing on September 18 titled “Mental Health Needs of Children in HHS Custody.” Witnesses will include Jonathan Hayes (Director, Office of Refugee Resettlement, Department of Health and Human Services), Ann Maxwell (Assistant Inspector General, Office of Inspector General, Department of Health and Human Services), and Jonathan White (Commander, Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, Department of Health and Human Services). Watch the livestream here.

TheHouse Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee will hold a hearing on September 19 titled “Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Engagement”. Witnesses will include Michael Kincaid (Associate Administrator for STEM Engagement, National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and Dr. Karen Marrongelle (Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation for Education and Human Resources).  Watch the livestreamhere.

School Safety

The Education and Labor Committee’s markup scheduled for this Wednesday is posted with the text of H.R. 4301, the “School Shooting Safety and Preparedness Act.” The Education and Labor Committee has updated the webpage for Wednesday’s markup of the school safety bill. The updated link is available here:  edlabor.house.gov/hearings/…

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Gov. Walz orders flags at half-staff in remembrance of September 11 attacks


In observance of the 18th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and in accordance with a proclamation issued by the president, Gov. Tim Walz has ordered that all United States flags and Minnesota flags be flown at half-staff at all state and federal buildings in the state of Minnesota from sunrise until sunset. Individuals, businesses, and other organizations also are encouraged to join in lowering their flags in observance of the anniversary.

Access Gov. Walz’s proclamation.

“Minnesota joins the rest of the nation in remembering the Americans who lost their lives and the first responders who died fighting to save them,” said Gov. Walz. “September 11th reminds us that there is more that unites our country than divides us. We’re a nation founded on freedom and a country comprised of everyday heroes. On the 18th anniversary of this tragic day, we lower our flags to honor our neighbors, past and present, and celebrate what it means to be an American.”

In respect for the victims of this tragedy, Gov. Walz proclaimed Wednesday, September 11, 2019, to be Patriot Day and a Day of Service and Remembrance in the state of Minnesota. Gov. Walz encourages all Minnesotans to observe the National Moment of Silence at 7:46 a.m. Central Daylight Time.

Source: Office of Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan

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Become a Delegate and build good policy for our public schools — nominate yourself or a board colleague today


Help shape MSBA’s legislative agenda!

Friday, August 30, is the deadline for school board members and superintendents to nominate board members to serve two-year terms as Delegates for the 2019-2020 MSBA Delegate Assembly. School board members may also submit self-nominations.

Each December, Delegates discuss and vote on legislative resolutions submitted by school boards and individual school board members. The resolutions that receive a majority vote, as well as positions adopted during previous years, become the basis for MSBA lobbying efforts on behalf of all public school board members in the state.

The 2019 MSBA Delegate Assembly is scheduled for Saturday, December 7, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Minneapolis — Park Place.

Send an email to MSBA’s Bruce Lombard at blombard@mnmsba.org to submit your nominations and/or self-nominations OR to request an online nomination link.

Read New London-Spicer School Board member Lucinda Dahlberg’s recount her first experience at the Delegate Assembly in the May-June 2018 edition of the MSBA Journal magazine.  

Visit the Delegate Assembly webpage for more information.

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Federal Advocacy Weekly Update

Congressional Update

IDEA Full Funding Bills May Appear on House Agenda Later this Year

Congress is on an extended recess until September 9, but looking ahead to the fall, we expect the House Education and Labor Committee to shine a light on the federal government’s failure to sufficiently fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. For many years, bipartisan bills have been introduced in the Senate and House to require the federal government to pay a higher percentage of the costs associated with serving the nation’s special education students. Earlier this year, Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA) and 113 cosponsors, including 13 Republicans, introduced the IDEA Full Funding Act (H.R.1878) to increase the federal share of IDEA Part B funding over time. More recently, Representative Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) and six cosponsors, including two Republicans, introduced the Funding Early Childhood is the Right IDEA Act (H.R.4107), which would increase the federal share of IDEA Part C funding, and would require increased federal investments in infants and toddlers and preschoolers. NSBA expects both measures to be the focus of the House education committee’s IDEA work later this year.

Appropriations will be on Senate’s Agenda in September

When Congress reconvenes after Labor Day, the Senate Appropriations Committee will launch a furious effort to make progress on the fiscal year 2020 spending process, including the Department of Education’s budget. With a two-year budget deal now in place, Senate staff are working hard during the long summer recess to lay the groundwork for several subcommittee and committee spending votes in September. NSBA’s advocacy team is focused on making sure that the major education formula programs – ESSA Title I and II, IDEA Part B – and other school board funding priorities are protected in the Senate bill’s that will be considered. We do not yet know when the Senate Labor, HHS, Education Subcommittee will vote on the Department of Education’s fiscal year 2020 budget, but we will provide regular updates about the process to the membership.

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North Star accountability system results will be available in August


Results from the North Star accountability system will be released in August. The major dates for release are:

  • Monday, August 26 — Embargoed release of the public North Star file to districts.
  • Noon Wednesday, August 28 — Embargoed release of the public North Star file to the press.
  • Noon Thursday, August 29 — Public release, including updated data on the Minnesota Report Card, and general availability of the public North Star file.

As of noon on Wednesday, August 7, district and school staff with secure reports access were be able to see data for the North Star accountability system.

In the Accountability Secure Reports section of secure reports, users can access the North Star Report on the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) website (log-in required).

This report provides information about school and district performance on each indicator in the North Star system.

Users can also download secure rosters for:

  • academic achievement and progress;
  • progress toward English language proficiency;
  • and consistent attendance (secure rosters for graduation have been available since the spring).

Direct questions to Michael Diedrich at 651-582-8332 or michael.diedrich@state.mn.us

Source: Minnesota Department of Education

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Advocate for education at the State Fair


If you plan on attending the Minnesota State Fair this year, MSBA encourages members to discuss education issues with legislators at the House of Representatives’ booth.

Visit www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hinfo/leginfo/19memfair.pdf for the schedule of representatives planning to attend the fair.

The House booth will again feature its annual opinion poll. This year’s poll will include a question concerning using a tax credit for funding private school scholarships.

The House of Representatives booth is located in the Education Building on Cosgrove Street, just north of Dan Patch Avenue.

Source: Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information Services

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MSBA Participates in Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan’s Roundtable on Child Centered Government

This morning Minnesota School Boards Association (MSBA) participated in a small roundtable discussion with other early education and childcare stakeholders to discuss how working together to invest in Minnesota’s youngest students can increase equity and bridge the opportunity gap for children, youth and families.

Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan recently reintroduced the Children’s Cabinet initiative and their priority to ensure all children have a healthy start, access to affordable and quality childcare and early education, access to mental health supports and stable housing. The goal is to center government on children and families and want to work with organizations, like MSBA, to “come together and help propose and enact sound and transformational investments and policies.”

Minnesota’s Children’s Cabinet is an inter-agency partnership the Governor has charged with helping make Minnesota the best place to raise a family — for everyone.


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