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Posted: Apr 14 2014 9:55AM
News from Representative Erickson 04-14-2014
The legislature is on its annual Easter/Passover break this week, so I'm writing to you today from back home in Princeton.
It's refreshing to get away from Saint Paul for a week and spend time back in the district after many long nights and floor debates at the Capitol over the past month.
The legislature will resume its work on Tuesday, April 22nd, giving us just under one month to complete business ahead of the Constitutionally-mandated May 19th adjournment date.
A brief update on some of the legislation that was passed last week:
Minimum Wage Increase
After Democrat leaders in the House and Senate reached an agreement to give final approval for the $90 million dollar Senate Office Complex slipped into the tax bill last session, Democrats moved forward with plans to raise Minnesota's minimum wage to $9.50 by 2018, including automatic increases based on inflation.
Republicans and Democrats both agree: low and middle-income Minnesotans need more money in their pockets. But our respective solutions could not be more different. Republicans want Minnesotans to have more opportunities by creating an environment that helps to grow good-paying jobs for middle class families.
Unfortunately Democrats have taken us in the opposite direction, creating an environment that stifles good-paying jobs by increasing taxes on small and large businesses alike, and continuing to add red tape and regulations that discourage job creation.
We face an opportunity gap here in Minnesota, not a wage gap. Increasing the minimum wage only hurts those just starting out in the work force by making it harder for them to get a job and the important work experience that comes with it.
I fear this increase will drive up youth unemployment, and hurt the very people it intends to help.
On Tuesday, the House debated and ultimately passed despite bipartisan opposition the so-called bullying bill. We can all agree that no child should be bullied, and that students deserve to feel safe and welcome in their school.
This bill however will do very little to address the root causes of bullying. The unintended consequences of this poorly-written piece of legislation will have serious ramifications for our schools, teachers, and parents.
The bill represents an unfunded mandate of $20-25 million per year at a time when school district budgets are already stretched thin. It also discourages local control, forcing upon districts a one-size-fits-all policy. Do you really think that politicians and bureaucrats at the Department of Education know better than school districts and principals how to combat bullying in their area? All school districts--as required under state law--had a bullying policy already, and the results were clear: bullying incidents have dropped precipitously statewide in recent years.
As a teacher, I've seen firsthand that students behavior improves markedly when parents are actively involved and aware of their child's behavior at school. Unfortunately, Democrats cut parents out of the bullying equation. The bill that was passed included no parental notification language.
If your child is the victim of bullying, or is bullying another child, there is no requirement that you be notified. Parental involvement should be the first tool to combat bullying. Cutting them out sends the wrong message, and is the wrong direction if we truly are interested in combating bullying in our schools.
One month left
When the legislature returns on April 22nd, we will have just under one month to go before the end of the 2014 legislative session. If you have any questions at all as we approach the final weeks of session, please contact my office at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 651-296-6746.
Have a great week, and a blessed Easter/Passover Holiday.