With thousands of Minnesota students still in remote learning, House Republicans are offering legislation that would empower local families and school districts to make the best decisions for their circumstances and remove the governor’s ability to unilaterally keep schools closed.
This is important because many students and families continue suffering detrimental impacts of distance learning as it takes a toll on academic achievement, mental health, and more. We are sacrificing learning to fight a pandemic and students, reports show, have been learning at a 60% level during the last year.
The science and data show we can safely get our students back in the classroom. Even President Biden’s CDC director has said multiple times that we could safely return to in-person learning before all teachers are vaccinated. Children need interaction for growth on numerous levels and it we need to ensure they receive it.
The prospect of creating another Lost Generation should be of great concern to us, with today's students losing knowledge, interaction, companionship, health, and maybe a steady future. This bill would help by preventing the governor from overreaching and keeping schools closed longer than they need to be. We trust our local school boards, administrators, parents, and teachers to work collaboratively and make decisions that are in the best interest of the district.
A similar proposal cleared its first committee stop in the Senate earlier this month and could come up for a vote in the coming weeks. Unfortunately, in the House, the majority blocked an attempt to declare urgency on this bill and bring it to the floor Thursday.
Positive news regarding our state economy came this week when Minnesota Management and Budget released the January revenue report showing $296 million more in tax collections that month than previously expected. Net receipts from the individual income, sales, and corporate taxes were above the forecast, while net other tax receipts matched the forecast.
This means the greatest fears of several months ago that the bottom would fall out of our economy, resulting in a historic shortfall, are not coming to fruition. A modest shortfall was projected in November and this $296 million uptick further diminishes it. This trend also further illustrates the governor’s proposed $1.7 billion tax increase is unnecessary.
A bill I have authored to help mitigate our state’s shortage of workforce housing received a hearing in the House Housing Finance and Policy Committee and remains viable for passage this session.
This bill has support from key stakeholders and fellow legislators. I am optimistic this bill will continue to be well received, so stay tuned for more details as things unfold.
CALIF. CAR STANDARDS
Just a reminder to people regarding opportunities to provide input on the governor’s push to bring California car standards to Minnesota. Judge Jessica Palmer-Denig will conduct video hearings at 3 p.m. both Feb. 22 and 23. Links to attend the online events can be found here. You also can provide comments on the OAH website until the March 15 deadline.
It is important for people to let their thoughts be known on this issue, especially since the governor is bypassing legislative process by bringing this through the administrative rulemaking path. If the governor’s proposal takes effect, we would see increased vehicle costs, limited choices to vehicles such as trucks and SUVs and our local auto dealers would be harmed – all while placing our state’s regulatory decisions in the hands of California.
Look for more news from the House soon. Until next time, your feedback always is welcome … and stay warm.