The post-election dust has settled and things are beginning to take shape as the Legislature prepares for the 2019 legislative session. The biggest change going into 2019 is that the DFL will control the Minnesota House of Representatives with a 75-59 majority. This constitutes a considerable swing from the previous biennium, when Republicans held a 77-57 edge. The suburban area of the state is where the greatest political shift took place, which coincides with the unseating of two Republican members of the United States Congress by Democratic candidates. The Senate remains under Republican control with a 34-33 one-vote margin.
The change in party control in the House has brought about a change in committee chairs. Representative Jim Davnie (DFL-Minneapolis) will chair the Education Funding Committee in the House and Representative Cheryl Youakim (DFL-Hopkins) will chair the Education Policy Committee. Both chairs have been employed by school districts, giving them valuable experience in helping discern what students and staff need to succeed in today’s education environment. The membership rosters for the committees has yet to be released, but should be at least a week before the 2019 session begins on January 8, 2019.
While the Republicans remain in control of the Senate, they have tinkered with the committee structure and have combined the Education Funding and Education Policy Committees into one larger committee. That committee will be chaired by Senator Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) who previously chaired the Education Funding Committee. As is the case with the House of Representatives, the membership roster for this combined committee has yet to be determined.
There will also be a new Governor with Congressman Tim Walz taking office in early January. Governor Walz has an extensive background in public education, working as a teacher and coach, most recently in the Mankato school district. With the advent of a new administration, new commissioners will man most of the state agencies. Word at this time is that a small number of current commissioners from the Dayton Administration will remain in place, but it is expected that most agencies will have a new commissioner. It’s really important for all of us to recognize the hard work current Commissioner of Education Brenda Cassellius has put in during her eight-year tenure at the Minnesota Department of Education. Commissioner Cassellius has been a tireless advocate for children, especially those with the greatest barriers to receiving a high-quality education.
I will be providing updates throughout the legislative session and can be reached at email@example.com or 612-220-7459 (cell). I am also on Twitter at @Lundellleg. I look forward to hearing from MSPA members throughout the session, so don’t hesitate to let me know if you have a question or comment.