Hello from the Capitol,
Before I get to legislative updates, I want to acknowledge the men and women who protect our safety as Law Enforcement Officers. This week is recognized as Police Week and May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day. On Thursday, the House issued a resolution recognizing police officers for their dedication to keeping our communities safe and their service to our state. The State Patrol Honor Guard joined us in the House chambers for a special tribute to honor fallen police officers. Click here to watch the ceremony.
End of Session:
We continue to pursue negotiations with the Governor to reach compromise on a budget plan before session ends on Monday, May 22nd at midnight. Although this process can be frustrating, we remain committed to working around the clock; I’m hopeful that the Governor gets serious about meeting us in the middle.
Teacher Licensure Reform Veto:
Last year, the Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) put forward recommendations based on an audit that found that Minnesota’s teacher licensure structure is in need of significant reform. Since the release of the audit, the chairs of the education committees in the legislature, as well as other representatives, senators, and stakeholders, have been working diligently to come to a consensus on what reforms need to occur. A task force was established between the House and the Senate that worked a total of 1000 hours over a span of 25 meetings, developing 45 different iterations on reforming the teacher licensure process. A bipartisan/nonpartisan solution was developed in the form of House File 140.
House File 140 addresses the recommendations by the OLA through:
Despite broad bipartisan support of House File 140, the Governor vetoed the bill. I disagree with the Governor’s and Education Minnesota’s claims that this bill will allow unqualified experts to teach in the classroom. The reality is that for over two decades, districts have been seeking special licensing exceptions from the Minnesota Department of Education in order to bring in community experts to teach in hard-to-fill career & technical subjects. There are currently close to 1,000 people filling these roles. House File 140 actually increases, not dilutes, the requirements and training needed for these Tier 1 licenses.
On Wednesday, the House and Senate both passed the conference committee report of House File 3, making Minnesota REAL ID compliant; the Governor signed the bill into law Thursday morning.
In case you may have forgotten: REAL ID was passed by the U.S. Congress in 2005 with the intention of making it more difficult for potential terrorists to falsify an identification card. According to the federal law, all 50 states need to be in compliance before January 22, 2018.
Due to the passage of this bill, Minnesotans will be able to continue to board airplanes, as well as visit military bases and federal facilities while using the appropriate identification. The differences between the new REAL ID and a current driver's license are minimal. The REAL ID verifies the license holder’s legal status within the United States and ensures residence of only one state. In order to address some people’s concerns about privacy, the bill that passed allows for a dual-track system. Minnesotans can choose to either apply to get a REAL ID, or use their current state driver's license and a passport as a form of identification.
High School Graduations:
Congratulations to the seniors in the Wabasha-Kellogg School District who will be graduating this weekend!
Stay In Touch:
If you ever have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding anything related to state government, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-8635.
I appreciate your comments and concerns as it helps me be a better representative.