AUDIO: Legislative Update with John Persell

Minnesota Representative John Persell spoke Tuesday on legislative items underway at the state Capitol.

On Monday, the House passed a bill that supports hourly school workers, such as paraprofessionals and other support staff who work for hourly wages.

The bill ensures hourly school employees continue to get paid through the end of the school year. The bill provides compensation for hourly school employees and allows entities that contract with schools to provide services to be reimbursed for paying their employees, for changes in school employment practices as a result of COVID-19 related school closures and the conversion to distance learning programs.

“Teachers and school staff are going above and beyond to serve our students and families,” said Persell (DFL – Bemidji), who voted in favor of the bill. “Today, we took an important step to ensure full pay for hourly school workers – including paraprofessionals, lunch staff, child care workers, bus drivers, and many others. Like all Minnesotans, these hardworking individuals deserve economic security during these challenging and uncertain times.”

The legislation also addresses school finance formula glitches resulting from the conversion to the distance learning model. The bill creates and legislatively approves certain waivers of state law regarding assessments, graduation and course requirements, and potential licensure issues faced by prospective and current teachers.

This legislation awaits action in the Minnesota Senate.

Over the weekend, House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt made headlines when he tweeted that House Republicans would block the bonding bill if Gov. Walz did not end the peacetime emergency declaration.

Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka is reported to have said that he does not want a showdown with the governor over the bonding bill, but said he did want more legislative control over items related to COVID-19 response.

Persell said Tuesday that there will likely be a bonding bill, but is anticipating at least one special session this year. The bonding bill requires three-fifths support to pass the House, meaning bipartisan support is needed.

Bemidji has some stakes in this year’s bonding bill. Namely, a water treatment plant which will cost around $16 million, of which they hope the state will bond $8 million.

The city also submitted a local option sales tax for the project, in addition to wastewater treatment facility expansion and capital needs at the Sanford Event Center, but the legislature is cooling on the idea of passing any local option sales taxes this year as the legislative deadline of May 18 looms ahead.

Listen to the full interview with Persell here:

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