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

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February 24th Legislative Update

Friday, February 24, 2012
Dear Friends and Neighbors, On Tuesday, the five-judge redistricting panel released the Legislative and Congressional redistricting maps for the state. The new district label for our area will be 15A and includes all of Mille Lacs County, seven precincts in Kanabec County and two precincts in Sherburne County. While this change does not go into effect until next year, I am looking forward to representing new constituents and townships. On the senate side, District 15 will now encompass parts of five different counties. In addition to 15A, Senate district 15 will consist of most of the remaining townships in Sherburne, all of Benton except the cities of Sauk Rapids and Rice, and a couple of townships in Morrison County. While the redistricting news is exciting, my commitment and focus for the remainder of this year remains with my current district and constituents. This week Governor Dayton signed two of our bills into law. I am pleased to announce that yesterday the governor signed House File 2394, a bill that closes a loophole in the state's sex offender community notification law. Under the previous state law, local law enforcement was prohibited from holding community notification meetings on sex offenders being released from the Minnesota Sexual Offender Program (MSOP) to a half-way house. We were especially concerned with this as a judicial panel recently decided to provisionally discharge Clarence Opheim, a sex offender who molested 29 children in the 1970s and 1980s. Opheim is expected to be released from the MSOP program in the next week. Another positive development this week was the governor’s signing of one of our education reform bills, House File 1770. The law now requires teacher candidates to pass the basic skills exam before being granted an initial teaching license. Former law required the basic skills test, but still allowed teachers in the classroom even if they failed. This legislation helps ensure that we hire effective teachers who will provide a high quality education for our children. HF1770 passed 132-0 in the House and 60-1 in the Senate. Governor Dayton requested last week during his State of the State address that we present bi-partisan bills and this bill met his request. We all agree that we need to raise the bar for teacher candidates in order to help solve the achievement gap. As the session presses on, I continue to work on education reforms, property tax issues, and resolving concerns regarding the Department of Natural Resources management of Lake Mille Lacs. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or want to share your thoughts on the legislative session. Sondra
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