Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I'd like to wish you and your family a Happy Veterans Day! This is a wonderful day to celebrate the brave men and women who are currently serving or have served our nation throughout its history, protecting our freedoms and way of life.
Having two sons who serve in the military, I know the sacrifice many families and individuals make for our country. Veterans Day provides an excellent opportunity to pay tribute to our courageous servicemen and women.
Happy Veterans Day to you and your family!
Leading on Education Priorities for the Forest Lake School District
Last week, House Education Finance Chair Jenifer Loon and I met with several education leaders from Forest Lake including our superintendent, financial officer and representatives from Lakes International Language Academy to discuss education priorities in our community.
Included in our discussion was our school district's transportation sparsity funding which may require legislation next session, as well as the needed certification of a new building in our district by the Minnesota Department of Education.
I will continue to work on legislation and policy that ensures students in our district receive a world-class education.
Joint Education Hearing
On Thursday, November 5, the House Education Finance and Education Innovation Policy committees held a joint hearing regarding non-compliance by the Board of Teaching to streamline and update its out-of-state teacher licensure rules by January 1, 2016, which was mandated by this year's legislature. Because of their inaction and lack of urgency, having not even filed for a 60-day public comment period until November 2, the Board of Teaching has made clear it does not expect to make this mandated deadline.
The legislature has been trying to get the Board of Teaching to update its out-of-state licensure standards since 2011, and it is very disappointing that they continue to sidestep legislative intent and not follow the law. This is about ensuring that our state continues to be a leader in education and can hire the best qualified, quality educators, regardless of whether they are trained in Minnesota or not. We don't want educators to be discouraged from teaching in our state because of the complex and often contradictory standards or be forced into taking redundant, expensive additional coursework.
Veteran-Owned Small Businesses
In August, the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs and the Minnesota Department of Administration announced a new state-level certification for veteran-owned small businesses, giving them an up to 6 percent preference for state procurement and construction bids. This is an issue I have been working on for a decade, and I authored the legislation that put it into law.
With so many veterans unemployed after returning from service, this is a great step to help local veteran-owned businesses in our state. I am attending an Association of Minnesota Counties meeting next month in St. Cloud to talk with counties about the importance of this initiative, as well as how counties should be operating under the new law.
Minnesota's new veteran-owned small business certification program cuts through burdensome red tape, and is a great step forward that will increase economic opportunities for our veterans.
As always, thank you for the honor and privilege of being your state representative. If I can ever be of assistance to you or your family on a matter of state government, please don't hesitate to contact me.