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Continued: Dayton signs anti-bullying bill

During the nearly 12-hour debate on the Minnesota House floor Tuesday night, some Republicans said the bullying measure smacked of fascism, and others said it would create a totalitarian society like the one described in George Orwell’s book “1984.”

Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe, said he believes the law will do little to prevent bullying. He spoke more favorably of a spanking he once got as a child from a bus driver for bullying another child.

“The point is, it corrected the problem,” he said of the incident. “I didn’t have to go to counseling, therapy, or sue the bus driver. It was over.”

Dayton said that while much of the debate was heartfelt from both sides of the aisle, he believes some comments were out of line.

“The First Amendment guarantees free speech. But it doesn’t distinguish between intelligent speech and unintelligent speech,” Dayton said to applause. “This bill is American as any bill can be.”

The governor was flanked by children who had written to lawmakers, testified before the Legislature and spoken out about their support for the law. Among them was Jake Ross, 11, of Forest Lake, who introduced himself as a Boy Scout and a Christian.

In a calm, articulate speech, Jake told the crowd of his experience in elementary school. As a 7-year-old, he said, he was threatened, attacked, laughed at and abused by bullies who even threatened to kill him.

“Today marks the beginning of a change in thinking about bullying,” Jake said. “I am very happy for this day.”

He said his school lacked policies to protect him and that he ended up transferring to another. Now, he said, he wishes to tell other bullied children that he understands their struggles.

“I wish you freedom from your pain,” he said.

 

Staff writer Abby Simons contributed to this report. kim.mcguire@startribune.com • 612-673-4469 rachel.stassen-berger@startribune.com • 651-925-5046

 

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  • Video: Dayton signs antibullying bill

    Wednesday April 9, 2014

    The law defines bullying behavior and addresses cyberbullying. It requires schools to investigate bullying and training of school staff...

  • Jake Ross, left, an 11-year-old Boy Scout from Forest Lake, watched asGov. Mark Dayton signed the antibullying bill on the steps of the Capitol on Wednesday. At the right are the sponsors of the legislation, state Rep. Jim Davnie and state Sen. Scott Dibble.

  • Gov. Mark Dayton applauded 11-year-old Jake Ross, who testified about being bullied, as he looked back to thank bill sponsors state Rep. Jim Davnie and state Sen. Scott Dibble.

  • Gov. Mark Dayton's communications director Matt Swenson placed the pens the governor would use to sign the bill.

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