|February 19, 2021|
It was another busy week at the Capitol as we passed 2 major bills off the Senate floor and committees started to take up more bills. My Housing Committee took up 4 bills this week that would look to reform the Housing Finance Agency and ensure rental market stability. I also had a bill heard in the Labor and Industry Policy Committee that would help manufactured home installers with their training.
Getting Kids back in School
On Thursday, the Minnesota Senate passed legislation that will protect students’ right to an excellent education at all times. The bill, Senate File 2, removes any governor’s authority to close schools or alter school schedules via executive order. Decisions about opening and closing will be left in the hands of individual school districts moving forward, where local officials have firsthand knowledge of their students’ needs.
Research has confirmed that our children are not superspreaders, and as we continue to get more and more of a grip on this pandemic, we must begin to shift our focus to what is best for them. Since the onset of COVID, Governor Walz has used his authority to be the sole decider. This decision should never have been exclusively his. With a network of 300 unique school districts, we should have always been working to empower local administrations to make the right choices for our kid’s futures.
The bill says the governor may not use executive order authority to issue any order or to authorize the commissioner of education to alter school schedules, curtail school activities, or order schools closed.
Gov. Walz’s executive orders closing schools have been among his most questioned and controversial orders of the outbreak.
There is mounting evidence, including research from the CDC, that schools pose a minimal risk of spreading the coronavirus. A fall Reuters report that studied 191 countries also found no clear link between school reopenings and coronavirus surges. In addition, Axios looked at several studies and found schools are not Covid hotspots, and the Atlantic Magazine wrote that kids are not superspreaders and that it’s time to reopen schools. The New York Times reported on evidence that schools, especially elementary schools, are not “stoking community transmission.”
On Wednesday, Governor Walz revised his Safe Learning Plan but still holds state authority to change education plans going forward.
This is yet another example of slow-rolling reform. As stated before, our children are the least at risk but suffering the most. Governor Walz’s approach maintains bureaucratic control, which isn’t what our kids need.
Making sure Mutual Aid is paid for
On Monday, the Senate passed legislation that would hold cities accountable to pay their mutual aid agreements and prevent Governor Walz from diverting funds away from education and healthcare to cover cities’ public safety costs that defund the police.
Communities that rise to support their neighbors in the time of civil unrest should not be left on the hook for the protection they provide. The reform passed yesterday ensures that these obligations are met and allows law enforcement to rise to the challenge should Minnesota see further rioting when the trials begin in the coming months.
Following the bill’s passage, Governor Walz, via his spokesperson, Mr. Tschann, issued a statement accusing Senate Republicans of voting to defund the police. This was after House Democrats failed to pass their own version of the legislation on the same day.
Minnesota Law enforcement plays a critical role in the protection of our residents and the laws of our state. Governor Walz’s accusation is completely unfounded and is contrary to the policy direction of parties in our state. As Democrats across Minnesota have moved to undermine and remove police in Minnesota, Senate Republicans continue to stand behind law enforcement and the invaluable support they provide to our communities.
I’ve heard from many of you but wanted to make sure you have contact information for myself and other elected officials in the State:
State Senator Rich Draheim
Governor Tim Walz
US Rep. Jim Hagedorn
US Rep. Angie Craig
US Sen. Amy Klobuchar
US Sen. Tina Smith
Follow me on Facebook @SenatorRichDraheim
Follow me on Facebook to see what I am up to in the Senate and around the district!
|95 University Avenue W|
Minnesota Senate Building
St. Paul, MN 55155