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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Jenifer Loon (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Jenifer Loon

Thursday, March 29, 2018

In This Edition:

  • School Safety Package
  • Greater Transparency in Education Spending
  • Bills Moving Forward
  • Happy Easter!

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Here is an update with the latest news from the Capitol and around the community.

School Safety Package

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Speaking to the press about my school safety package

Today, I was proud to unveil a package of proposals that puts student safety first. This multifaceted approach gives our school districts tools to address security and safety, and is the combination of a number of bills and ideas put forward by legislators this session.

By partnering with our local communities we can address their unique needs, whether a school lacks an on-site police officer or a child asks for help with mental health issues. Our comprehensive proposal enhances school security, addresses student mental health, and provides our districts with needed resources and flexibility to keep our kids safe.

Some key highlights in the bill include:

  • School resource officers, student support personnel, and other school security programs funded through increased Safe Schools revenue, including a minimum level of funding for small schools.
  • School facility security upgrades, and expanded use of Facility Maintenance revenue for security projects, including emergency communications systems.
  • School-linked mental health programing to ensure better outcomes for all kids.
  • Physical security audit grants to provide state assistance to review facility security and crisis management policies.
  • Suicide prevention training for teachers to help educators learn how to engage and assist students experiencing mental distress.
  • School-based threat assessment teams established to assess, intervene, and report threats facing students, teachers, and staff.

Parents, educators, students and interested citizens in Eden Prairie and across the state have been contacting me throughout the session asking what we can do to improve school security and keep Minnesota kids safe. I think this student safety package is a meaningful proposal that will make a real, impactful and positive difference, meeting the needs of our local schools and students statewide.

Greater Transparency in Education Spending

On Wednesday, the House Education Finance Committee heard legislation I am authoring that would require the non-partisan Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) to dig deeper into how schools are allocating the state and federal funding they receive.

To better tackle the achievement gap in Minnesota, we need to know how money is being spent. School districts with high populations of English learners, special education students, or students from low-income families receive more funding, but it is not always clear if those dollars actually reach the intended students. For large districts, questions persist on whether or not lower performing schools are employing lower-paid, less effective educators than better performing schools in the same district.

Getting a better picture of how dollars are apportioned between schools within districts will provide legislators and the public with greater transparency.

Some key questions I would like the OLA to examine include:

  • Whether students generating the greatest amount of state funding are accessing those funds at the school level
  • How districts actually allocate salaries by school instead of reporting the average teacher salary, district-wide, which is the current practice
  • How expenditures differ between high-income schools and Title 1(high poverty) schools, with a focus on class sizes, levels of support staff and other resources
  • Whether students in low-income schools subsidize students in high-income schools

House File 3600 has bipartisan support, and I am hopeful that we can get this bill to the finish-line this session, allowing the OLA to do a deeper dive into education spending and providing a more in-depth breakdown of how education resources are distributed. 

Bills Moving Forward

A number of bills I am authoring moved forward in the committee process this week.

First, my Teacher Code of Conduct bill that codifies the teacher code of ethics rules into statute, prohibits sexual relationships with students, and prohibits the issuance of teaching licenses to felons or those convicted of a gross misdemeanor involving a minor was heard in the Public Safety Committee.

My business registration bill that, at the request of an individual business, would prohibit the Secretary of State from publishing the registered address of a business entity if that address is also the home of the individual operating the business, was discussed in the State Government Finance Committee.

Finally, my bill I discussed last week that would authorize bonding funds for grants to school districts for building safety and security improvements was considered in the Capital Investment Committee. The grants would be administered by the Department of Education, and grants would be split evenly between metro and Greater Minnesota school districts.

Happy Easter!

I wanted to take a moment as we head into the long holiday weekend to wish everyone a Happy Easter and wonderful Passover. I look forward to spending time with my family this Easter weekend, and hope you are able to spend some quality time with your loved ones, too.

At the Capitol

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Kids from Robbinsdale ECFE were at the Capitol Thursday

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With Bert Black from the Secretary of State’s office, testifying on HF 2722


If you need assistance on a matter related to state government, or have questions, comments or suggestions about what is happening in the Legislature, please don’t hesitate to contact my office. I am here to serve you!


Jenifer Loon