Where things stand with a few weeks to go

Published 3:24 pm Saturday, April 25, 2015

Over the next couple of weeks, the House will finish passing our budget omnibus bills. It will mean long hours on the House floor as we piece together our 2016-17 budget.

Peggy Bennett

Peggy Bennett

Here’s an update on some of the bills I’ve been working on, and where they stand as of this week:


Shell Rock River bill

One of the first bills I authored to designate the Shell Rock River as a state waterway is included in the Environment and Natural Resources omnibus bill, which was passed by the House on Friday. If signed into law, it would put the Shell Rock River on a list of some of Minnesota’s most beautiful waterways, helping to attract tourists and boost recreation in our area. Our area Sen. Dan Sparks is the chief author of a similar bill in the Senate.


K-12 education bills

I have two bills included in the education omnibus bill which passed on Saturday. The first is my bill that would reduce state-mandated testing for K-12 students. The governor has signaled his support for reducing the number of state-mandated tests, so it’s my hope this will be an area of bipartisan agreement.

The second bill is my bill that would deny an appeal hearing to anyone convicted of a child-related sex crime who has had their teaching license denied or revoked. Under current law, if a teacher license is revoked, even those guilty of the most egregious sex offenses are entitled to an appeal hearing before the board of teaching, which can cost valuable staff and taxpayer resources. We already deny this hearing to those convicted of child abuse, so my bill simply extends that to include other crimes.


Teacher Shortage Bill

My bill that offers loan forgiveness for up to five years for teachers who are teaching in a license field where there is a shortage of available teachers, or in a designated geographic teacher shortage area is included in the higher education omnibus bill. Schools across the state, especially in Greater Minnesota, are struggling to attract and fill teacher positions, or find teachers who can teach certain subjects. It’s my hope that this is one of the tools we can use to make sure we have great teachers for students in every classroom, no matter what part of the state a student lives in.

We have just a few weeks to go until the end of the 2015 session. It’s been an honor to be the voice for our community in St. Paul, and I remain grateful each day that I get to come here to work hard on your behalf.

I hope you’ll continue to keep in contact in these last few weeks of session by sending me an email at rep.peggy.bennett@house.mn or calling 651-296-8216.


Peggy Bennett, of Albert Lea, is the House District 27A representative.