Action Alert — Tell Congress to reject provisions of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that would harm our public school districts

United_States_Capitol_-_west_front

Source: National School Boards Association

The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee is continuing its mark-up of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). This legislation is the first draft of a bill for tax reform and is expected to be considered by the committee throughout this week. Overall, several of the bill’s provisions would negatively impact school districts.

Please contact Minnesota’s members of the U.S. House of Representatives and urge them to reject the provisions in the TCJA listed below.

1. Educational Choice — H.R. 1 proposes the expansion of Coverdell education savings accounts (also called 529 plans) to facilitate up to $10,000 in tuition for private schools. NSBA opposes this provision and urges Congress to reject this proposed expansion of 529 plans. Specifically, NSBA opposes vouchers, tax credits, and tax subsidies for use at non-public K-12 schools.

Talking Point: We urge you to reject the provisions in Section 1202 of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that would expand Coverdell accounts (529 plans), as this would drain resources from our public school districts and impact innovate education programs that are helping raise student achievement. Instead, we urge your strong support for the range of choices that are currently offered by our nation’s public school districts, such as magnet schools, charter schools authorized by local school boards and schools with specialized curricula for science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics (STEAM).

***

2. State and Local Tax Deductibility — H.R. 1 would limit full deductibility of state and local taxes-property, sales and income taxes — that are used for education investments (Section 1303). Under H.R. 1, taxpayers would only be able to deduct up to $10,000 in property taxes. Urge your members of Congress to support our students, their families and communities by maintaining full deductibility of state and local taxes (SALT).

Talking point: We urge your strong support for tax legislation that will strengthen state and local efforts to fund public education, and to reject proposals that would negatively affect those efforts. We urge you to retain full deductibility of state and local taxes and to reject Section 1303 of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

***

3. School Bond Programs and Advance Refunding — Municipal bond programs that benefit school construction projects and other capital improvements for school districts would be eliminated under H.R. 1, along with advance refunding of bonds. Advance refunding allows a bond issuer to refinance the bond one time for a lower interest rate, which is a cost-savings to taxpayers.

Talking Point: As an important investment in school infrastructure for safe, healthy and innovative learning environments, we urge you to retain the programs that H.R. 1 proposes to eliminate in Sections 3601, 3602 and 3603.

***

4. Cadillac Tax on Healthcare Plans for Teachers and Other School District Employees — Although H.R. 1 does not address the “Cadillac Tax,” this is an opportunity to urge that Congress address the issue, which would impose a fiscal burden on many school districts that do not have the resources to pay an excise tax on health care plans for teachers and other educators. Under the Affordable Care Act, this tax is scheduled to be collected in the year 2020 and would require employers to pay a 40 percent penalty on health insurance expenditures over $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for family coverage.

Talking Point: While H.R. 1 does not currently include provisions that address the “Cadillac Tax,” we urge you to modify conditions under which penalties may be imposed on school districts as employers for health insurance coverage that exceeds the price benchmark established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as there is bipartisan support to address this fiscal burden.

The U.S. Senate also will be taking up their version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act this week.

Posted in 2017 U.S. Congress, Action Alert, Advocacy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Gov. Dayton orders flags at half-staff in honor of Texas attack victims

Flag-HalfStaff

Source: Office of Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith

In accordance with a proclamation issued by President Donald Trump, Governor Mark Dayton has ordered all United States flags and Minnesota flags to be flown at half-staff at all state and federal buildings in the state of Minnesota. As directed by the president, flags will be flown at half-staff beginning immediately, until sunset on Thursday, November 9, 2017, as a mark of respect for the victims of the terrible act of violence in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

On Sunday, November 5, 2017, a terrible attack on innocent people occurred in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and the victims and their families deserve our honor, respect, and remembrance.

View a copy of President Donald Trump’s proclamation.

View a copy of Governor Mark Dayton’s proclamation.

Posted in Flags at Half-Staff | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Minnesota Supreme Court to hear data practices case

gavel

Oral argument for the data practices case, Webster v. Hennepin County, will be heard by the Minnesota Supreme Court at 9 a.m. Tuesday, October 31.

The argument will be livestreamed from the Supreme Court’s website at http://www.mncourts.gov/SupremeCourt.aspx

MSBA joined the League of Minnesota Cities’ amicus brief in the case.

Posted in data | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Session Daily: Lawmakers worry student data vulnerable with state law behind the times

Capitol Fall Color avb

The State Capitol in St. Paul. Photo by Andrew VonBank, Session Daily

Source: Session Daily

Data collected from Minnesota students’ school-issued devices would be more closely guarded under a bill heard Tuesday by a legislative data privacy panel.

Rep. Eric Lucero (R-Dayton) sponsors the legislation that would restrict how student data collected from software applications and computer devices can be used, accessed, sold, shared or retained.

Called the “Student Data Privacy Act,” HF 1507 would complement existing student data rules in the Minnesota Data Practices Act and the federal Education Rights and Privacy Act.

Visit http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/bs/90/HF1507.pdf for a summary of the bill.

The legislation represents an effort, Lucero said, to catch state law up with technological advances in the state’s schools. There have been “tremendous advances” in technology available to teachers and students since student data privacy provisions were first addressed in state law, he said. But those statutes have not necessarily kept up.

The Legislative Commission on Data Practices took no action.

“Where the law is at right now is sort of a crossroads as to how to deal with new technologies,” said Ben Feist, legislative director for the ACLU of Minnesota. Data collected on students — and how school districts use and protect it — has increasingly become an area of focus for Minnesota lawmakers. School-provided devices like laptops or tablets contain heaps of information that data privacy advocates fear could be mishandled or misused by schools and third parties.

HF 1507 includes language that would govern issues such as when school employees could look at a student’s browser history on their device, and would prohibit student data from being used to develop a profile for any commercial or marketing purpose.

The bill would also require training for school officials in student data privacy and would allow parents or guardians to sue school districts over violations of the act.

The privacy restrictions proposed would apply to all schools, in addition to the computer hardware and software companies with which they contract. Homeschool providers would be exempt.

“We’re trying to establish a new baseline,” Lucero said.

***

Visit http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/sessiondaily to view other stories from Session Daily.

Posted in data, data privacy | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gov. Dayton orders flags at half-staff for Marina DeSteno Challeen

Flag-HalfStaff

Source: Office of Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith

In honor and remembrance of Emergency Medical Technician Marina DeSteno Challeen, Gov. Mark Dayton has ordered all United States flags and Minnesota flags to be flown at half-staff at all state and federal buildings in the state of Minnesota, from sunrise until sunset, on Wednesday, October 18, 2017.

DeSteno Challeen, 24, was raised in Stillwater and was a graduate of Stillwater Area High School and the University of Minnesota. She died on Monday, October 9, 2017, in a tragic collision when the ambulance in which she was riding collided with a semi-truck in Brooklyn Center.

The state of Minnesota recognizes DeSteno Challeen for her dedicated service to, and sacrifice for, her fellow citizens of Minnesota, with its deepest gratitude. A celebration of her life, will be held on Wednesday, October 18, 2017, at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi, Minnesota.

At the direction of the governor, Minnesota flies its flags at half-staff following the death of Minnesota first responders killed in the line of duty, on the day of interment.

Visit https://mn.gov/governor/assets/2017_10_17_FHS_Marina_Gayle_Desteno_Challeen_tcm1055-315405.pdf for a copy of Gov. Dayton’s proclamation.

Posted in Flags at Half-Staff | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Legislative commission to discuss Student Data Privacy Act

BigData

The Legislative Commission on Data Practices is scheduled to examine the Student Data Privacy Act at 2 p.m. Tuesday, October 17, at the State Office Building (Room 200) in St. Paul.

This meeting is scheduled to be broadcast by the Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information Services. Just before the meeting begins Tuesday, visit http://www.house.mn/htv/schedule.asp to access a link to a stream for the meeting.

Student data privacy will be an important issue during the 2018 legislative session. This meeting is a great opportunity to learn what is being proposed and to hear legislators’ responses. MSBA staff members will be attending this hearing.

Access more information about the Student Data Privacy Act.

The commission will also do an overview of SF 1980, a bill concerning student-user data privacy in education rights. Learn more about this bill at https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/bill.php?b=Senate&f=SF1980&ssn=0&y=2017.

Visit http://www.lcc.leg.mn/lcdp for more information about the Legislative Commission on Data Practices.

 

Posted in data, data privacy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

MDE Releases Report on Special Education Costs

The Minnesota Department of Education recently released its report on special education cross-subsidies for FY16.special ed

The report delves into two areas. First, the amount each district is cross-subsidizing in special education costs with general education revenue. And second, the statewide average adjusted general revenue per adjusted pupil unit.

The special education cross subsidy is projected to reach $806 million in FY 2021.

To see the impact on your district and others, Appendix B in the report provides a district by district cross-subsidy amounts.

Posted in special education | Tagged , , | Leave a comment