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Minnesota Legislature

House OKs amended snow day forgiveness bill, heads to Governor’s desk

Rep. Shelly Christensen comments during floor debate on her motion to adopt the conference committee report on SF1743, the so-called ”Snow Day Relief Bill.” Photo by Paul Battaglia

With few traces of this historically cold and snowy winter remaining, the House repassed a snow day relief bill 115-12 Thursday. 

HF1982/SF1743* now heads to Gov. Tim Walz’s desk for a signature; it was repassed 61-2 earlier in the day by the Senate after a conference committee reached an agreement earlier in the week.

Schools made the responsible decision to close during the extreme weather days this winter, according to the House sponsor, Rep. Shelly Christensen (DFL-Stillwater), who added the proposal ensures families and districts have scheduling clarity moving forward.

“This is a great work of bipartisanship, and I’m proud to say we have lots of happy stakeholders,” she said.

Reflecting comprise language endorsed by Walz, the bill would allow school districts to waive an unlimited number of days canceled on account of health and safety concerns, by board action. It differs from the original House version in which only three “polar vortex” days taken at the end of January could be counted as instructional days. 

Districts that waive days will need to provide that information to the Department of Education. Going forward, they are encouraged to create an e-learning plan to use in the event of future weather-related closures.

The bill retains House language that would require school districts to pay or offer alternative work to hourly employees who lost hours on account of the cancelations, and to pay contractors, like bus companies, for lost time.

Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) opposed the bill saying that waiving the days is a disservice to students, depriving learning opportunities, and providing teachers and staff with unearned, paid days off.

“The kids are getting ripped off,” he said.

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