For more information contact: House GOP Communications 651-296-5522
The first half of the 2018 Session is now complete. Thursday, March 29th, was the final day of Session before we break for Passover and Easter to spend time with our families and in our districts.
My family and I will be taking time to remember and reflect on God passing over the Hebrews during the last of the ten plagues on Egypt, as well as the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world. I hope you all will be surrounded by loved ones as you celebrate these holidays in your own ways.
School Safety Proposal
Today, Thursday, March 29th, my colleagues and I unveiled a legislative package aimed at putting student safety first. We have taken a multifaceted approach includes more resources to meet the needs of students and schools statewide which includes everything from hiring more school resource officers, student counselors, and mental health professionals, to making critical building security upgrades. In total, House Republicans are proposing approximately $50 million for mental health and school safety funding, double the amount proposed by Governor Dayton.
We spent time listening to school officials, teachers, and our local communities prior to bringing forward this comprehensive approach to making our schools safer. I am especially proud of the inclusion of my proposal to provide additional funds for school resource officers, student support personnel, and additional security programs. Our multi-prong approach enhances school security, addresses mental health, and provides school districts with much-needed resources and flexibility to keep our students safe.
School resource officers, student support personnel, and other school security programs funded through increased Safe Schools revenue, including a floor level of funding for small schools authored by Reps. Barb Haley, R-Red Wing and Anna Wills, R-Rosemount.
School building security upgrades, and expanded use of Long-Term Facility Maintenance revenue for security projects, including emergency communications systems authored by Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie.
School-linked mental health programming to ensure better outcomes for all kids authored by Rep. Jeff Backer, R-Browns Valley.
Physical security audit grants to provide state assistance to review facility security and crisis management policies authored by Reps. Randy Jessup, R-Shoreview and Drew Christensen, R-Savage.
Suicide prevention training for teachers to help educators learn how to engage and assist students experiencing mental distress authored by Rep. Dario Anselmo, R-Edina.
School-based threat assessment teams established to assess, intervene, and report threats facing students, teachers, and staff authored by Rep. Keith Franke, R-St. Paul Park.
My Bills in Committee
On Tuesday, March 27th, Governor Mark Dayton signed into law a bill to ratify state employee union contracts and compensation plans. The legislation ratified the negotiated agreements between the state of Minnesota and the following unions: AFSCME Council 5, MAPE, AFSCME Unit 8 and Unit 225, Middle Management Association, Minnesota Government Engineering Council, Inter Faculty Organization, and the Minnesota Nurses Association.
I was happy to see the Governor sign into law the contracts of over 30,000 hard-working state employees. From staffing our correctional facilities, plowing our streets, and providing care to sick people, these are just a few of the many important services these individuals provide to our state. I was pleased to join colleagues from both parties to vote in favor of this bill in the House Chamber on Monday, March 26th. The bill was first passed Monday by the Senate on a 56-10 vote, and later passed 93-33 in the House.
There may finally be a light at the end of the tunnel for MNLARS. The conference committee created early last week to resolve differences between the House & Senate MNLARS fixes came back with a solution that could work for all sides. The bill will use the agreed upon special fund to pay the immediate $9.6 million and a special MNLARS Steering Committee will be established to oversee the progress made to fix MNLARS. Any further disbursement would also be overseen by this steering committee.
Also included in the bill that passed both chambers last week and Governor Dayton signed, was a provision requiring a request for information to determine whether a private vendor is a better option. This is an important step since it has been made abundantly clear that the governmental bodies that initially developed this system failed badly.
It also requires the Governor’s administration to seek an extension from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for REAL ID. While the Governor had agreed to do this, we felt it was important to make clear this was something that must be done for Minnesotans.
The bottom line is that Minnesota taxpayers have paid nearly $100 million for a system that is only half built. Minnesotans deserve a DMV system that works, but we will not give a blank check to the governor and throw good money after bad. Our solution allows fixes to continue but sets up important oversight to ensure tax dollars are being spent wisely.
Supporting the Men and Women Who Keep Us Safe
The House Public Safety Committee heard two Police Protection bills authored by Chair Brian Johnson and Rep. Matt Grossell. Chair Johnson’s bill (HF3610) would increase the penalty for assaulting a police officer and Rep. Grossell's (HF4082) bill would prevent police disarmament by local agencies.
Early Education Funding
I am proud to be an advocate for early childhood education during my years in the Minnesota House, especially targeting resources for the children who need them the most. Thankfully, schools receiving funding for School Readiness or voluntary Pre-Kindergarten are fully funded through the end of the 2018-19 school year, and the remainder of this budget cycle.
House Republicans recognize the importance that these early learning programs have on our little learners and that is why we allocated $50 million in funding last year that could be used toward voluntary Pre-Kindergarten or School Readiness programming. Since this is not a budget year, my colleagues and I look forward to working with Governor Dayton's successor about this important issue and all other budget issues when the next legislature convenes in January 2019.
Last session, the legislature and Governor Dayton agreed to allocate $50 million in one-time funding that schools could use toward voluntary Pre-Kindergarten or School Readiness programming. To date, the legislature has not received bill language from Governor Dayton on the extension of one-time Pre-Kindergarten or School Readiness funding.
Meetings this Week
Rep. Wills met with constituent Jason here to discuss a bill to establish a board of licensed appraisers within the Department of Commerce to be able to advise the Department on appraisal issues.
Rep. Wills with families and staff who came to talk about the positive effects that Headstart Programs have made in their lives.
Rep. Wills met with Amy, Bill, and Jordan from the Rosemount Senior Living and Augustana Care to discuss the importance of passing legislation addressing elder abuse in Minnesota.
Rep. Wills with constituent Pat with AFSCME Minnesota Council 5 discussing the importance of passing the Pension bill this session.
Rep. Wills met with constituent Evelyn to discuss the State Grant Program that helps more than 81,000 students in Minnesota afford the colleges that best meet their needs.
Meals on Wheels
On April 15th, the Northwest Dakota County Meals on Wheels will be having their first ever fundraiser. This organization strictly serves homebound seniors in Eagan, Apple Valley, Burnsville and Savage and looks to our local community for support. In 2017, over 11,000 meals were served by this great group. The event will feature the music of Pop Art Live and take place at the Apple Valley American Legion.
I plan to attend and you can follow this link to learn more and register if you would like to attend as well.
Keep in Touch
Thank you to so many of you who have contacted my office so far this Session! I receive hundreds of emails weekly and value all of your feedback. Thank you also for your patience as I work to respond to each of you.
As always, please don't hesitate to contact me with your comments, questions, and concerns. Email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 651-296-4306. Stay up to date with what I am up to at the legislature and around our community by following my updates on Facebook at www.facebook.com/repannawills.
Have a Blessed Easter weekend!
State Representative District 57B
No image galleries found