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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Josh Heintzeman (R)

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Legislative Update (3-6-15)

Friday, March 6, 2015

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Thank you to the individuals, from our area, who took the time to visit St. Paul this week. It was great to meet with many of you and hear your thoughts and concerns on a number of issues that are important to our district and the state. To those of you who have not had a chance to visit the Capitol this year, I encourage you to make a trip if your schedule allows. It would be an honor to meet with you.

I also am excited to invite you to attend an in-district “office hours” event that will be taking place on Saturday at the Caribou Coffee, 15175 Edgewood Drive North, in Baxter. This is an opportunity for me to chat with constituents about the issues that they are most concerned about over a cup of coffee and in an informal environment. Feel free to stop in and have a cup of coffee, it would be wonderful to meet with you.

February Budget Forecast

Last Friday, the Minnesota Management and Budget Office (MMB) gave legislators an updated look at the state’s budget situation. The February forecast shows that Minnesota has a $1.869 billion surplus for the 2016-2017 budget.

MMB’s report revealed that the surplus is in large part due to the fact that cheaper gas prices are allowing consumers the opportunity to deliver spending toward non-gasoline purchases.

While it is good to see Minnesota’s economy doing better, we need to remember that this surplus is the result of hard working Minnesotans, not the government.

Over the coming months, lawmakers will begin to craft the state’s budget. I am committed to seeing that more of your hard earned money stays in your pockets and that we prioritize things that matter most to Minnesotans like roads and bridges, caring for the elderly, and ensuring that every child has the opportunity to receive a world class education.

Empowering Our Schools to Recruit and Retain the Best Teachers

On Thursday, the House debated and passed House File 2, an education reform bill and one of the top priorities for House Republicans this session. Below you can find an Op/Ed I wrote and submitted to our local papers discussing House File 2 and the different provisions within the bill.

As parents, we want to ensure that our children have the opportunity to achieve their dreams. Helping our kids reach their full potential requires a great deal of parental involvement—instilling in them strong values and the importance of hard work.

While parental involvement is key to our children’s future success, education also plays a vital role in equipping children with the tools necessary to achieve their dreams. Our children deserve a world-class education. This is a goal that we strive for as parents, educators, and individuals who are invested in and take an active role in the well-being of our community. This goal can be attained throughout the entire state, but it starts with meaningful reform at the local and state level.

One step toward reform began this past Thursday as the Minnesota House passed House File 2. This bill includes effective, research-based reforms that can improve upon the already exceptional education system we have here in Central Minnesota.

Improving education starts with teacher retention. It should be a priority that we have the best teachers in our classrooms educating our children. Currently, state law ties the hands of school districts and mandates that any staffing decisions be based on seniority unless negotiated otherwise by their local teachers’ union. House File 2 would change this process.

House File 2 allows teacher performance evaluations to be one of many factors a school district could consider when forced to make retention decisions.

This bill does not eliminate seniority. Instead, it requires a locally negotiated layoff process based upon licensure, teacher performance, and other locally determined criteria, including seniority. This bill simply allows other factors to be considered—recognizing that seniority alone, without other considerations, may not be the best way to provide a quality education to our kids.

In addition to teacher retention policies, House File 2 also empowers local school districts to recruit local community members for vocational, technical, and career courses. This gives students the opportunity to explore a number of vocational or post-secondary options that they may have not otherwise considered.

House File 2 also directs the state’s Board of Teaching to increase access to quality teachers through out of state teacher license recognition, encouraging regional licensure reciprocity, streamlining alternative pathways to teaching, and reinstating other licensure options.

Minnesota, and the Brainerd area in particular, has great teachers. I was grateful to attend a recent event honoring the Brainerd Public Schools and the six National Blue Ribbon Awards our elementary schools received. In order to maintain this high level of academic achievement, we need to do our best to ensure that we continue to have the most effective teachers in our schools. Next to parental involvement, teacher effectiveness is among the most important factors in a child’s academic growth and success. We all share the same common goal—ensuring that our children are afforded the opportunity to a world-class education. I believe this bill will help achieve this goal.

Staying in Touch

Thank you for taking the time to read my update this week. I appreciate the opportunity to be able to communicate with constituents about the issues being debated at the capitol.

Liking” my Facebook page and “following” my Twitter account are both great ways to stay connected with what is going on here in St. Paul.

If you are planning on being in St. Paul this session, please feel free to contact my office by phone at 651-296-4929 or via email at to set up an appointment. It would be an honor to speak with you and discuss ways we can make Minnesota better.