Rep. Ruth Richardson
Minnesota House of Representatives
District 52B 651-296-4192 – Rep.Ruth.Richardson@House.mn
403 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155
RELEASE: Low-income Student Driver’s Education Bill Crosses First Hurdle
ST. PAUL, MN – Today, Rep. Ruth Richardson (DFL – Mendota Heights) presented legislation in the Education Policy Committee to expand access to driver’s education for low-income students between the ages of 15 and 19. The bill (H.F. 987) would allow school districts to pay a portion of the cost of enrollment on behalf of students who qualify for free and reduced lunch.
“There was a time when taking driver's education was considered a rite of passage, and young drivers were often trained for free through the public school system. Today, a driver's education course can cost around $400,” said Rep. Ruth Richardson. “Driver's license fees are one of the hidden barriers that prevent low-income students from attaining their driver's license, and the mobility and opportunities that come with it. This bill is about equal access to education, employment, housing, and services for all.”
In the 1970s, 95 percent of students received driver's education as part of the public school curriculum. Today that number is just 15 percent.
The bill would create a working group chaired by the commissioners of education, public safety, and employment and economic development to study access to driver education courses in Minnesota, identify barriers to course participation for low-income students, and analyze potential permanent funding sources to expand driver education course availability. The work group would report to the legislature.
Any costs paid by districts for this purpose would be reimbursed by the Department of Education.
The bill was referred to the Government Operations Committee. Senator Matt Klein (DFL – Mendota Heights) is the chief author of companion legislation in the Senate.