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Legislative update

Friday, March 15, 2024

Hello from the Capitol!

We have some good news this week. The House and Senate both provided final approval to get School Resource Officers back in schools. Blaine High School, along with dozens of others, should have school resource officers back in place after this is signed into law.

The House approved the Conference Committee Report for H.F. 3489 119-9 on Wednesday, with all Republicans voting in favor of the measure. Nine left-wing extremist Democrats voted against the CCR, which is interesting because that’s one more of them voting with the radical fringe than the eight Democrats who voted against the bill as it originally received preliminary approval March 4.

The Senate passed the conference committee report by an overwhelming margin as well, 61-3 today. The bill is now in the hands of the governor, and I am optimistic he will sign it into law.

In the end, it is good to see cooler heads and common sense prevailed on this issue. Fringe political extremists are becoming more powerful in the legislature in recent years. They managed to create this problem in our schools by forcing the bill through and skipping the public safety committee, but they have now been stopped on that issue.

However, there is a new issue being pushed by the same fringe group. During a committee meeting where they voted down an amendment to fix a problem created in the Minnesota Human Rights Act they enacted last year. In short, there is no more freedom of religious expression on issues related to “gender identity.” Every other category in the Human Rights Act allows for freedom of religion.

When religious leaders approached us about this issue, many assumed this was an oversight, and the majority would support a fix to restore the status quo as it existed from 1993-2023. But that fix is missing from the Department of Human Rights’ bill presented this year, so an amendment to rectify the situation was drafted in consultation with religious leaders.

The amendment language simply restores the religious exemption in the MHRA protecting religious organizations and faith-based schools against claims of gender identity discrimination. The exemption ensures that religious organizations and faith-based schools can, among other things, hire teachers and ministers consistent with their mission and values. Already, at least one faith-based school is facing an employment complaint at the department of human rights because of the removal of the exemption.

If you watch the committee hearing you will see the total lack of respect faith leaders were treated with. It was shocking to see religious freedom becoming something up for debate. I want to thank those who came to testify This includes:

  • Zaheer Baber, President, Islamic Center of Minnesota
  • Dan Beckering, Head of School, Southwest Christian High School
  • Frederic Hinz, Public Policy Director, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
  • Yen Fasano, Associate Director of Catholic Schools, Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis Drexel Mission Schools Initiative

Senate Democrats still have a chance to right this wrong by accepting the amendment House Democrats blocked. It is unclear when the Senate will put this issue to a vote since last week it canceled a hearing on the overriding department bill. I am hopeful that will happen.



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