Hats off to 15-year-old Ethan Poser of Little Falls for achieving the prestigious Eagle Scout rank with his Boy Scouts Troop 51 club. It takes remarkable dedication to earn this award, and even Mother Nature threw some extra challenges Ethan’s way. Congrats again, Ethan, and nice job following in the footsteps of your brother, Derek, who earned his own Eagle Scout award several years ago. Click here for more on this.
As for legislative news, I have introduced a bill which provides additional grant funding and resources to improve safety for students and staff at Minnesota’s schools.
My bill (H.F. 579) provides an additional $18 per pupil for school districts, and $18 per pupil in new funding for charter schools. The bill also provides $7.50 per pupil for school district cooperatives in Greater Minnesota.
We owe it to our children to ensure our schools provide a safe environment in which they can learn and grow. The bill I have authored is multi-faceted to help us make improvements in a wide range of areas, from enhancing security at school buildings to expanding suicide-prevention efforts. The bill I have authored is a comprehensive plan that helps us meet challenges our schools face that have not been fully addressed and I look forward to working with members from both sides to bring this legislation through the process this session.
Some components in my bill are similar to measures the Legislature approved in an education package last year, only to be vetoed by then-Gov. Mark Dayton. For example, the bill provides school districts with the flexibility to use facilities maintenance revenue for physical security upgrades, and communications.
Safe Schools Revenue is $43 million for the 2020-21 biennium, plus $2 million for physical security audit grants, $400,000 for school resource officer training grants, and $273,000 for suicide prevention teacher training. A hearing is not yet scheduled for this bill, so stay tuned for more another time.
On another note regarding our youth, I have accepted a legislative appointment to serve a task force on child protection for the 2019-20 biennium.
The Legislative Task Force on Child Protection was created in 2015 to expand efforts regarding child welfare in Minnesota. It works with the Department of Human Services and others to establish and evaluate child protection grants and also identify areas within the child welfare system that need to be addressed by the Legislature.
This is a great honor to serve on such an important task force and I look forward to working on bipartisan solutions to make things better for children who, for any number of reasons, may have the deck stacked against them.
One of this week’s committee highlights was in Commerce, where we heard H.F. 400, a bill regarding opioids. I thank Charles Strack of the Little Falls Police Department, who also serves on the Opioid Prescribing Work Group, for appearing in front of the committee in support of the Little Falls drug task force. The bill is a good start, but it currently does not specifically fund the St. Gabriel’s opioid program. I have supported this St. Gabriel’s program for a number of years and will continue working to see that it once again receives funding it requires to perform.
On a final note, I also am in the process of authoring a bill to provide funding for delivering high-speed internet service to underserved/unserved areas on the state such as parts of our region. Look for more on this soon.