For more information contact: Peter Glessing 651-296-4230
Are you a parent? Are you a student? Are you a school board member? Do you work at a school? Are you a small business owner? Are you an employee? Are you a taxpayer?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, last week was a terrible week for you at the legislature.
On Wednesday, the House passed the deceptively-named “Safe and Supportive Schools Act” and sent it to the governor’s desk for his signature. To be clear, no child should be bullied for any reason. School should be a place where students feel safe and comfortable to learn. Unfortunately, this legislation completely misses the mark.
Under the language of this new bill, if a child is accused of bullying or is a victim of bullying, there is no requirement for a parent to be notified of such an incident. Because accusations of bullying can be done anonymously, what recourse do parents or students have to face the accuser and work toward a solution?
I’m also disturbed by the curriculum authorized by this law. Much of it is not age appropriate and has the potential to have serious negative consequences on a child’s mental development.
Over the course of the past several months I spoke with numerous school principals, superintendents, school board officials, and parents – the vast majority of whom asked me to oppose this bill. In our community, we are blessed to have excellent public schools. This new law usurps the authority of our locally-elected school boards and restricts the rights of parents. We don’t need St. Paul politicians and state bureaucrats taking away the authority and rights of parents and school district officials.
On Thursday, the House Democrat-majority passed yet another job-killing piece of legislation. This new law increases the state minimum wage from $6.15 per hour to $9.50 per hour for large employers (gross sales over $500,000 annually) and $7.75 per hour for small employers (gross sales under $500,000 annually). The increase comes in three stages, and will reach the new minimums by August 2016. Current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Beginning January 1, 2018, the minimum wage will be adjusted based on the implicit price deflator with a cap of 2.5 percent. The Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry can suspend the inflationary increase if “leading indicators” show a “substantial” downturn in the economy.
Now that this legislation is law, I can’t help but think of the unintended consequences it will bring. I heard from countless small business owners who may have to close their businesses or will have to make drastic changes to their business models in order to remain competitive. I’m especially troubled by the impact this legislation will have on a very special woman-owned business in our district ... one which is enjoyed by many and employs quite a few young people too. I feel sorry for high school students who won’t gain valuable job experience or the college student who won’t be able to pay for their education because they were laid off
I’m even more disturbed by the fact that this bill was passed as a result of a backroom deal between House and Senate Democrats. For several weeks, Democrats from each chamber had been at an impasse over their differences in the minimum wage. House Democrats wanted it tied to inflation. Senate Democrats were more resistant to that idea. However, once House Democrats agreed to Senate Democrats’ wish to build a lavish $89,594,175.000 new office building for state senators, Senate Democrats agreed to a new minimum wage increase tied to inflation. I’m saddened for the workers who will lose their jobs at the expense of this new opulent building for politicians. Minnesotans expect better of their elected officials.
It’s important to note that the only thing bipartisan about both the “Safe and Supportive Schools Act” and the minimum wage increase was the opposition. Both passed without serious input and support from Republican legislators.
With session now well underway and legislation moving quickly, I encourage you to contact my office with your thoughts, comments, and concerns. I greatly appreciate having heard from so many of you! You can e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can call me at (651) 296-4315. Mail can be sent to Rep. Cindy Pugh, 313 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, Minnesota 55155. If you haven’t yet contacted me but would like to weigh in, I’d love to hear you.