Sen. Bruce Anderson's Column

Bruce Anderson
The controversial anti-bullying bill passed off the Senate floor .  The opposition was bipartisan, including my own opposition.   Many amendments were offered to try to make this bill better, and after a vigorous six hour debate, the vote revealed that some legislators in St. Paul believe they know better than our local school districts and parents what is best for our local schools.
Nobody likes bullying.  It's important to make sure ALL children feel safe in our schools.  I support anti-bullying policies that are developed and implemented at the local level.  I trust principals, teachers and parents to keep our kids safe.  I supported an alternative bill that:
-Included strong parental notification requirements at the beginning, middle, and end of any bullying investigation, for parents of both bullied students and alleged offenders.
-Was supported by the Minnesota School Board Association.
-Was patterned after tested legislation that has worked in other states.
-Received an A++ rating from the national website
-Was referenced by Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson as a model to replicate.
The legislation which was passed yesterday instead:
-Does not trust locally elected school boards to create policies that fit their communities
-Overrides local control and discretion to deal with local problems and will tie the hands of administrators and teachers with red-tape and lawyers and more bureaucracy.
-Takes money out of the classrooms. The most current fiscal impact statement predicts the bill will cost locals schools $20 million and is funded locally rather than by the state.
-This policy is anti-parent. If your child is accused of bullying, it could go on their permanent record, and no parental notification is required.
-Emphasizes “preventative measures,” “valuing diversity,” and “sexual orientation, including gender identity and expression” making it likely that a controversial social agenda/ curriculum will result.
-This policy is untested and has not been tried anywhere in the country. The list of enumerated classes of bullying conduct remains in the bill (i.e. “…color, creed…sexual orientation, including gender identity and expression…”).
Other Notable Legislation
The Health, Human Services and Housing Budget Division passed their article which included full funding for the 5 percent campaign, additional money for nursing facilities that will be impacted by a minimum wage increase.  Division bills was heard in the full Finance Committee and the full supplemental budget is expected to be passed out of Finance.  Be aware the spending target may be different when the final bill is passed to the Floor.
The Transportation and Public Safety Finance Division passed its supplemental appropriation recommendations to the Finance Committee. Separately, the committee also passed a bill that jolted me into sticker shock.   This bill would increase the state’s gas tax by 14 cents per-gallon at the whole sale level, increase the sales tax in the Twin Cities to 8 percent, and spend an additional $1 billion on Metro Transit over three years. 
Once again, the majority party believes Minne-sotans should be taxed more so government can spend more!  Stay tuned!
Keep in Touch
I believe strongly in constituent services so please contact me with questions or comments or if you need any assistance on a state government issue.
Sen. Bruce Anderson
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155


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Kara Zoller, Health Promotions Supervisor