For more information contact: Andrew Wagner 651-296-2809
Last week I had the opportunity to visit Westview Elementary in Apple Valley along with Governor Dayton, Rep. Tara Mack, Sen. Jim Carlson, and Rep. Sandra Masin. We had a chance to visit with students, and then held a roundtable discussion with teachers, a local parent, and District 196 Superintendent Jane Berenz.
During the discussion, I shared concerns that I have heard from many schools across the state; that Universal Pre-K, while well-intentioned, would create serious problems for school districts who simply don't have the space to add additional classrooms. There was near unanimous agreement about the value of early learning, and the desire to reach children who need the most help as they prepare to enter the K-12 system.
School districts, early learning experts, and many legislators on both sides of the aisle support a targeted approach that will help lift up the children who need the most assistance. Research shows that a targeted approach that gives parents choices between quality early learning options is the most effective way to reduce the achievement gap and set kids up on a path to future success. A universal program limits parent choice, and could drive many high-quality early learning programs out of business altogether. Moreover, it leaves behind the at-risk children it's intended to help.
The Pre-K debate will continue over the coming days and weeks as legislative leaders and the Governor continue our negotiations for special session. Read more about our trip to Westview Elementary in the Apple Valley Sun ThisWeek by clicking here.
ADDITIONAL LEGISLATIVE UPDATES:
Governor Dayton Vetoes Two More Bipartisan Budget Bills
Governor Dayton has also vetoed the bipartisan Jobs and Energy bill, as well as the bipartisan Environment and Agriculture bill. Both bills contained good provisions that are now in limbo until resolved during the upcoming special session. The Jobs and Energy bill extended unemployment benefits for iron ore workers up north where entire communities are reeling from recent layoffs, as well as poultry workers whose lives have been upended by the avian flu epidemic. The Environment and Agriculture bill included full funding for the Minnesota Zoo, as well as funding for state agencies who have been working on the response to the avian flu outbreak. All of these provisions and more were delayed or put at risk with the Governor's veto.
Governor Dayton was quoted a few years ago as saying that compromise requires all of us to agree to items with don't agree with. This is the principle legislators used when crafting the bipartisan budget bills. Unfortunately, the Governor seems to have forgotten what compromise looks like, instead rejecting bipartisan bills due to his opposition to relatively small provisions. Hopefully, my colleagues and I can find common ground with Governor Dayton and get the special session scheduled as soon as possible to avoid further delay in getting our bipartisan budget passed into law.
I will keep you up to date with the latest as plans for special session become more clear.
Ending Sex Trafficking
Yesterday I attended the Breaking Free Demand Change Project Conference do discuss efforts to end sex trafficking and prostitution, which often go hand-in-hand. The event focused on the Nordic Model legislation, which punishes the sex buyers and protects the prostituted women as victims. This model has been fairly successful in combating this terrible practice. My colleagues and I are looking at pursuing similar legislation here in Minnesota to expand our current Safe Harbor laws, which currently only extends victim protections to children. To learn more about Minnesota's Safe Harbor laws, please click here. Learn more about Breaking Free and the work they do by visiting their website at www.breakingfree.net. To learn more about sex trafficking, visit: http://sharedhope.org/learn/what-is-sex-trafficking/
IN THE COMMUNITY:
Thank you to everyone who attended our community's Memorial Day services on Monday. Despite the rainy weather, we still enjoyed the wonderful ceremonies honoring those who lost their lives fighting to secure and protect the freedoms we enjoy today.
It was wonderful to attend the District 196 Adult Basic Education (ABE) graduation ceremony on Tuesday. It's inspiring to see these adults working to improve their skills and earning diplomas or GEDs to help them to prepare for jobs and future educational opportunities. Congratulations to all of the graduates!
NextLeaders Coffee Break
On Wednesday, I had the chance to visit the Apple Valley Chamber of Commerce NextLeaders Coffee Break hosted by Anchor Bank. The President and CEO of Anchor Bank, Jeff Hawkins, gave us a motivational speech sharing lessons he has learned about being successful in business and your personal life. I also had the opportunity to discuss legislative issues with young business leaders and get their perspective on what's happening in St. Paul.
Construction on Hwy 77
Plan ahead: Southbound Highway 77 is scheduled to close at 8PM on Friday, June 5 between Old Shakopee Road and Highway 13 and will reopen again Monday, June 15. More information on the Sun ThisWeek website here.
Dakota County Regional Chamber Legislative Breakfast
On Friday, June 5th, I will be participating in the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfast series with fellow Dakota County Reps. Pat Garofalo, Laurie Halverson, and Sen. James Metzen. We will review the accomplishments of the 2015 session, and do our best to preview the forthcoming special session. To find more information, or to register for the event, please click here.
Wishing congratulations to the Apple Valley High School speech team, who took first place at the Individual Events Tournament of Champions in Lincoln, Nebraska! Read more about the finalists and their awards by clicking here.
(photo via the Sun ThisWeek)
As always, please contact me with any questions you have about the budget, special session, or any of the other issues here at the Capitol. Email me any time at email@example.com or call 651-296-4306. You can also follow my updates on Facebook at www.facebook.com/repannawills or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/annacwills.
Have a great weekend!
State Representative, District 57B
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