We heard a lot of talk leading up to the 2014 Legislative Session that this session should be “un-session” that focuses on getting rid of unnecessary and burdensome laws and regulations. Instead, it seems that this “un-session” has been un-doing some of the mistakes of the 2013 Legislative Session. First it was repealing some of the job-killing business-to-business taxes Democrats voted to enact in 2013.
Now this week, the House passed a measure to make sure no school kid is denied a lunch based on ability of parents to pay. During the 2013 session, Republicans offered an amendment to expand the free lunch program to include 62,000 low-income students. Unfortunately, House Democrats rejected the proposal by a vote of 66 in favor to 68 opposed. The amendment would have been paid for by redirecting the DFL budget increases to the Minnesota Department of Education (base budget increase, three new regional centers, and a school climate center). Unfortunately, the DFL majority defeated the amendment. While I’m happy that no kid will go hungry at school now, this issue could have been solved a year ago.
Some of you may have heard about the so-called “Safe and Supportive Schools Act” that’s moving through the legislature. In short, this legislation infringes on the First Amendment rights of our kids, removes parents from the discipline process of students, and is a one-size-fits-all multi-million dollar unfunded mandate on our school districts that doesn’t solve the problem of school bullying. On Tuesday, the Senate Education Committee passed the bill after a five-hour hearing. Its next stop is the Senate Finance Committee. Since this particular bill is different from what passed the House in 2013, a conference committee will be needed if it passes the Senate and a version of the “Safe and Supportive Schools Act” will come back to the House. I remain strongly opposed to this legislation. Anti-bullying policies are best implemented at the local level, not by bureaucrats out of St. Paul.
As always, please feel free to contact me by e-mail at [email protected] or contact my office at 651-296-3201. You can also send mail to my office address: 211 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.