A proposal to crack down on bullying in Minnesota public schools is close to becoming law after more than a decade of repeated tries by gay rights activists and advocates for other frequently targeted kids.
What supporters dubbed the "Safe and Supportive Schools Act" would require all Minnesota districts to develop and enforce a plan to reduce bullying, and to make regular reports on progress to the Department of Education. The proposal, which will cost schools about $40 million to implement over the next two years, is a longtime priority for advocates of kids who for a variety of reasons come across as different or vulnerable.
The Senate approved the bill Thursday on a 36-31 vote after a five-hour debate in the Senate.
House Speaker Paul Thissen said his chamber, which approved similar legislation last year, is likely to quickly send the bill on to Gov. Mark Dayton, who is expected to sign it.
Much of the lobbying energy behind Sen. Scott Dibble's bill has been courtesy of OutFront Minnesota, the state’s chief gay rights group and a driving force behind last year’s successful effort to pass gay marriage in Minnesota. The anti-bullying bill pushes some of the same cultural hot buttons as that debate, with religious and socially conservative groups expressing worry that students could get labeled bullies for expressing views learned from their parents at a church.
Interest groups spent less slightly money lobbying state government in 2015 than in the previous year, according to a report released Wednesday by the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board.
More than half the people outside the government who met with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money — either personally or through companies or groups — to the Clinton Foundation. It's an extraordinary proportion indicating her possible ethics challenges if elected president.
St. Paul teachers held "walk-in" rallies Wednesday morning seeking progress in contract talks in the state's second-largest district. The St. Paul Federation of Teachers emphasized that the event did not represent a work stoppage or strike-related action.
An antibullying policy considered one of the weakest in the country was scrapped by the Minnesota Senate on Thursday in favor of more stringent requirements that would begin to crack down on practices that have tormented some students to the point of suicide.