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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Sondra Erickson (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Sondra Erickson

Friday, May 19, 2017

Dear Friends,

We are entering the last few days of session and negotiations on the state budget remain in-flux, but I will include more details on budget bills once we have reached agreements with the Governor.

You may have heard on the news that Gov. Dayton vetoed HF140, a bill I chief-authored, on Thursday even though I had worked closely with the commissioner and all the groups listed at the end of this email. Overall this proposal took us about 1000 hours from start (a year ago) until submission to the Governor.

Beginning last summer I chaired a study group of legislators who heard over five month from hundreds of persons interested in reforming the way Minnesota licenses teachers. I worked with other legislators, and with very smart and hard-working partisan and non-partisan staff, to produce reform based on the recommendations of a bi-partisan study group and recommendations put forward by the Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) from an audit done in 2016. That audit of the Board of Teaching and the Department of Education’s licensing division indicated that Minnesota’s teacher licensure system was broken and in dire need of significant changes so that candidates could understand the process as well as the law.

I set out to make the proposal easy to read by rewriting the section of law that controls licensure, and reformed the entire convoluted present system into four tiers. One major change was to convert what are now called “community experts” to licensure status with requirements that raised the standards when school districts could not find a regularly licensed teacher. What I did was change a law enacted in 1998 that was made available to school districts because of teacher shortage. I made the process clear, transparent and accountable to high standards.

In summary the bill accomplishes the following:

• Establishs a tiered licensure framework that ensures high standards, clear expectations, consistency, transparency, and identifies several accessible and affordable pathways for teacher licensure.

• Incorporates the unique and valuable skill-set of CTE (career and technical education) instructors within the tiered framework, including recognition of industry-related professional credentials and verifiable work experience.

• Adopts technical and clarifying recommendations from non-partisan offices to provide increased comprehension of teacher licensure provisions in state statutes and rule.


This bill was publicly supported by the following groups of educators, teachers, and advocates:

•Minnesota School Boards Association

•Association of Metropolitan School Districts

•Minnesota Association of School Administrators

•Minnesota Elementary School Principals Association

•Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals

•Schools for Equity in Education

•Minnesota Administrators for Special Education

•Center for School Change


•Educators 4 Excellence-Minnesota

•Great Minnesota Schools

•Groves Academy

•Hiawatha Academies

•KIPP: Minnesota

•Minnesota Business Partnership

•Minnesota Comeback

•Minnesota Chamber of Commerce

•Northeast College Prep

•Northside Achievement Zone

•Prodeo Academy


•Venture Academy

•The Wildflower Foundation

Because the Governor vetoed the bill, I will include it in the Education Finance/Policy budget bill for the upcoming biennium. I met after the veto with the Governor’s staff and have made all the changes he wanted. What is sad is that I asked him to meet with me if he planned a veto so I could make the changes before he vetoed, but he acted without that meeting.

In fact he buckled to the teacher’s union, instead of helping our students and teachers. 

HF140, now found in HF947, represents the most significant reform in 40 years to a very confusing process. This bill would have fixed a badly-broken teacher licensure system that simply could not continue if we mean to address the teacher-shortage crisis in our state. It was fully funded, had overwhelming support from education professionals around Minnesota, and presented common-sense reforms that clarified and streamlined the process for qualified individuals wanting to become teachers.

I will keep you updated on this and our budget bills as we finish these last few days.