I had the pleasure of attending a number of Christmas gatherings recently, including with the I-94 West Chamber (above) and Marksman Metals (below).
I hope this email finds you well in this Christmas season as the end of 2015 rapidly approaches! I have a few updates from St. Paul in what will be my last email update this year.
The Minnesota Management and Budget Office recently announced a projected surplus of $1.8 billion for budget year ending June 30, 2017. Of the $1.8 billion current law requires $600 million be transferred to the state's budget reserves (rainy day fund) leaving $1.2 billion.
Budget surplus = over-taxation
The current budget surplus is the result of the largest tax increase in Minnesota state history forced upon us by Gov. Dayton and the Democrats driving Minnesota to the 4th highest income tax rate in the nation! My top priorities for the projected surplus are tax cuts for hard working Minnesota families and businesses and spending on roads and bridges transportation.
Celebrating the City of Otsego's 25th year anniversary with Mayor Jessica Pedersen Stockamp and many other Otsego residents.
Police Body Cams
As a member of the Public Safety Committee I recently participated in a work group on body cams, listened to testimony at a Data Practices Commission meeting, and was part of a four hour joint committee hearing on body cams. As a strong supporter of individual liberty and the Constitutional protections of the Fourth Amendment (protection against unreasonable search/seizure) and the Fifth Amendment (requirement for due process), I strongly resist the proposal being pushed by some that body cams be permitted to video/audio record inside people's homes without a warrant, exigent circumstance, or consent. I was quite dismayed when one of my colleague State Reps. declared in the joint committee hearing it was his opinion simply dialing the police should constitute implied consent to body cams recording inside the home and about two weeks earlier when an activist testified to the Data Practices Commission members of her community are likely willing to sacrifice individual liberty for security by allowing body cams to record inside their homes without first having to obtain consent.
I recently attended a Friedman Foundation for Education Choice conference. I am a strong supporter of education choice through the use of tools such as tuition tax credits, individual scholarship tax credits (e.g., individuals allowed to make tax credit donations to education choice scholarship funds), corporate scholarship tax credits (e.g., corporations allowed to make tax credit donations to education choice scholarship funds), and Education Savings Accounts (ESAs).
Tools such as the above allow dollars to follow the K-12 student and empower parents to choose any public, private, charter, or home school. A competitive marketplace of educational choices allows for education customization that best fits the individual needs of children, increases accountability, increases quality, increases parent satisfaction, and decreases cost.
Minnesota Student Surveys
The Minnesota Student Survey is administered every three years to Minnesota students in grades 5, 8, 9, and 11 and asks questions about activities, opinions, behaviors, and experiences related to substance abuse, school climate, violence and safety concerns, healthy eating, out-of-school activities, connections to school, community and family, etc. The Minnesota Student Survey is administered in schools, Alternative Learning Centers (ALCs), and Juvenile Correctional Facilities (JCFs). The last Minnesota Student Survey was administered to students in 2013 and the next will be administered January - May 2016. A majority of the surveys will be administered online via desktops, laptops, tablets (e.g. iPad, Surface, etc.), and Chromebooks but a limited number of paper copies will be available for students in grades 9 and 11. More information about the Minnesota Student Survey can be found online here.
All schools and districts that participate in the survey are required to follow federal laws regarding parental notification as required by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA). Sample parent notification letters can be found online here.
Student participation in the survey is voluntary and PPRA requires participating schools to notify parents that the survey will be administered, provide parents the opportunity to review the survey, and allow parents the opportunity to opt their child out of participating. School districts have already received electronic copies of the surveys and because federal law requires schools to make the Minnesota Student Survey available for parents to review, parents have the opportunity to review the survey in person at the school district upon parent/guardian request. Alternatively, school districts may send an electronic copy of the survey to anyone requesting it.
Due to intrusiveness and inappropriateness of many of the questions in my opinion, I strongly urge parents to exercise their right to opt their children out from participating in the Minnesota Student Survey for those with children attending a school or district that will be administering the Minnesota Student Survey beginning January 2016.
I've included several example questions below students statewide will be asked beginning next month:
I've included three links below for direct access to PDF copies of each of the three surveys what will be administered:
Sen. Kiffmeyer, Rep. Nick Zerwas and I participate in a recent Elk River Chamber of Commerce listening session.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact me with any issues or concerns I may be able to assist you with.
I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and many blessings in the New Year!
Albertville, Hanover, Otsego, Saint Michael, and the Wright County portion of Dayton