As chairman of the House committee on higher education, I was pleased to meet at the Capitol this week with more groups representing various colleges and universities from around our state, including Minnesota State University-Moorhead, above, and Bethany Lutheran College below.
Joyce and I wish you and your family a blessed Easter/Passover holiday. Please be safe on the roads if you will be traveling to spend time with friends and family this weekend.
The House’s focus again this week was on committee work as we come up on the second deadline for bills in the process. Among them is bipartisan series of three bills related to mental health for farm families. This is an issue I am hearing more and more about from people in our area and it is good the House is working to help farm families address the unique set of challenges and stresses they face in that line of work.
Today, House Republicans unveiled a legislative package aimed at putting student safety first. Legislators’ multifaceted approach includes more resources to meet the needs of students and schools statewide.
This allows for hiring more school resource officers, student counselors and mental health professionals in addition 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 Gov. Mark Dayton.
School safety has always been a concern we’ve had. When you send your child to school you expect them to be safe, but recent events have made it more of a top-of-the-mind issue. The Legislature is doing what it can to address that by looking at school safety and providing some assistance to local districts and allowing districts to make decisions regarding what’s necessary and the state will help financially.
The Legislature will be taking a brief break next week in recognition of the holidays and I look forward to having extra time to meet with people back in our district. After that, only six full weeks will remain in the 2018 session when we return to the Capitol, so things will happen in a hurry leading up to our scheduled adjournment in late May.
One item of note from a higher education perspective is that we will be naming a new regent for the University of Minnesota system, replacing a retiring member from the 1st District, located in the southeastern part of the state.