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

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Legislative Update from Rep. Sondra Erickson

Friday, March 8, 2019

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

On Monday, House Democrats heard a bill in committee (House File 1329) that would significantly reduce teacher licensing standards and curtail an important pathway to licensure for out-of-state teachers, teachers with non-traditional backgrounds and teachers of color.

The bill would gut a new tiered licensure system that was enacted last session following years of bipartisan work. This new system has done wonders to help rural schools deal with teacher shortages they have been facing.

The bill would also lower licensing standards and reward ineffective or low-performing teachers by giving them access to a five-year teaching license.

Research shows that students perform better with effective teachers not just the most educated. This ill-conceived bill would do the opposite by rewarding ineffective educators with licenses at a time when our students need proven and effective teachers to help ensure that they receive the world-class education they deserve.

Reversing course on the new tier system would create confusion and be premature, given that there hasn’t been a lot of data collected to determine its effectiveness. Frankly, I think that HF 1329 is an insult to all the work that was done the last two years. We need to give it a chance to work.

ERA Amendment

On Thursday, the House approved legislation that proposes a state constitutional amendment that would prohibit denial of equality in the law on the basis of gender. The proposal is similar, but not identical, to the proposed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the United States Constitution.

While this legislation sounds good on its face, I am concerned about the intended or unintended consequences it presents. For instance, in some states that have passed ERA legislation like Pennsylvania, abortion rights groups are using the amendment to file lawsuits to strike down laws limiting abortions on the basis of discrimination.

I will not support something that could ease access to abortions and that’s why I voted no on this legislation.

Drivers Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants

A bill that would require the Department of Public Safety Commissioner to begin issuing driver’s licenses and state ID cards to undocumented immigrants has received two hearings in the Minnesota House the past few weeks.

I remain opposed to extending this privilege to individuals that are in Minnesota illegally. We are a nation of laws and we must respect our immigration process.

A driver's license is a privilege, not a right, and it is a privilege we give to citizens and those that are in our county legally. Immigration policy is handled at the federal level and efforts to subvert that and to essentially make Minnesota a sanctuary state are unacceptable and undermine the rule of law. 

Stay tuned on this as it is likely to continue to make its way through the Minnesota House.

MNDOT Audit Release

This week, the non-partisan Legislative Auditor released a report that found there’s little evidence that MNDOT “systematically analyzes the financial consequences of its decisions"-meaning that MNDOT fails to consistently assess whether its funding decisions make good financial sense.

I am disturbed by the findings in this report as any government agency must be extremely careful when they spend taxpayer dollars. I hope that the report is a wakeup call for MNDOT and would like to see some additional oversight put in place to make sure taxpayer funds are spent wisely and efficiently. 

Staying in Touch

That’s all for this week’s update. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns regarding a matter related to state government. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-6746 or via email at rep.sondra.erickson@house.mn.

Have a great weekend,

Sondra

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