Happenings Thursday at the Minnesota Capitol:
With more than 80 percent of the state's schools facing enrollment losses, a bipartisan group of legislators called for extra funding to cushion the decline.
The lawmakers want the state to spend up to $33 million on one of two proposals to help districts that are losing students.
"This is not just a regional problem," said Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth. "Basically we have a formula that's not working very well, and that's rising costs and fewer students."
Education spending is largely done on a per-pupil basis. So when a school loses a student, it loses the money too. As it stands, the state helps districts in decline by basing their state allotment 23 percent on the prior year's enrollment and 77 percent on the current year.
Marquart and his allies want to move to a 50-50 setup, which would cost $12 million a year. Rep. Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm, is carrying a bill to base appropriations on a three-year enrollment average, which would cost about $33 million.
A Senate committee moved to soften the state's strict bleacher safety law. Lawmakers want to exempt two more organizations from rules dealing with guardrails and gaps between tiers.
Under the plan, which passed the Senate Committee on State and Local Government Operations, the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission and some temporary bleachers used at the Metrodome for NCAA basketball events would be exempt from the rules.
The University of Minnesota and others already have such an exemption.
At issue is a two-year-old law that required gaps in bleachers be reduced to 4 inches unless safety nets were installed for bleachers taller than 30 inches. Many organizations say the law is requiring costly bleacher renovations.
Leaders of the sports commission said it would cost more than $160,000 to alter the bleachers at its large soccer complex in Blaine.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"There's bad boys out there and those bad boys are victimizing people."
-- Rep. Wes Skoglund, DFL-Minneapolis, on a report about chronic criminal offenders
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