Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed an anti-bullying bill Saturday, arguing that existing law was sufficient to deal with school-yard harassment and intimidation.
"Bullying is a serious issue that must be vigilantly monitored, prevented and addressed ... [but] the proposed legislation is duplicative of current law which directly and clearly prohibits bullying of any type against any student for any reason," Pawlenty said in his veto message to Senate President James Metzen.
The bill's author, Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, said he was "extremely disappointed" by the governor's action and said he thought he had reached a compromise with Pawlenty on the language of the bill.
"This shows he lacks compassion for the experiences of young people in our schools who are being bullied and harassed," Dibble said.
Backers of the proposal asserted that existing state law contains vague guidelines for race, gender and religious harassment that are inconsistently administered by school districts in the state.
The bill would have would have created 14 specific categories for protection from bullying, including sexual orientation, national origin, disability and physical characteristics.
In his veto letter, Pawlenty said he will instruct Department of Education Alice Seagren to review the existing anti-bullying model policy and to contact school districts to ensure they are meeting the requirements of the current law, which was implemented in 2005.