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House Republicans push bill to empower local districts, remove Gov’s ability to close schools

Friday, February 12, 2021

 

ST. PAUL – With thousands of Minnesota students still in remote learning, House Republicans on Thursday moved to take urgent action on legislation providing more local control over school-related decisions and removing the governor’s ability to unilaterally keep them closed.  

State Rep. Steve Green, R-Fosston, supported the plan and said many students and families continue suffering detrimental impacts of distance learning as it takes a toll on academic achievement, mental health, and more. 

“Parents should be able to work with their local school districts to make decisions that are in the best interests of their children, it’s a simple as that,” Green said. “The governor’s unilateral decisions have damaged enough of our society and the least we can do is regain control of issues impacting our children. It is past time for the governor, and Democrats in the Legislature who are complicit in continuing his emergency powers, to start listening to families instead of just issuing orders.” 

While many area schools have returned full time, many more remain in part-time or full-time distance learning. Green said science and data show we can safely get our students back in the classroom. He noted President Joe Biden’s CDC director has said multiple times that we could safely return to in-person learning before all teachers are vaccinated. 

Green said he’s disappointed the governor continues to ignore the science and is failing to bring teachers and students safely back to the classroom in schools throughout the state. 

“The governor loves to say ‘follow the science, follow the data’ but that is nothing more than lip service,” Green said. “In fact, when a TV reporter recently pressed him to outline the metrics he’s using to make decisions, Walz danced around the subject and did not name specific benchmarks.” 

The House Republicans’ proposal to act on the bill (H.F. 1051) Thursday failed on a party-line vote, with House Democrats blocking the effort and voting in favor of allowing the governor to keep his school-closing authority.

“House Democrats may have blocked our effort to declare urgency on this bill, but their next steps will tell us a lot more about where they stand on this issue,” Green said. “If they support local control and families deciding what is best for their children, they will conduct hearings on this bill. If House Democrats prefer having the governor in control of our children, they will just set this aside and continue letting the governor call all the shots.”

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