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News from Representative Erickson 02-26-2013

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Dear Neighbors,

It was another busy week here in Saint Paul.

Here are some updates from the Capitol:

IRRB Changes

On Monday, February 11th, the Minnesota House unanimously passed HF06, a bill that conforms Minnesota's tax code with federal changes made for the 2012 tax year. This bill brought middle-class tax relief for families and was an urgent priority for both parties as Minnesotans begin to file their taxes.

In the week that followed the initial passage by the House, Senate Democrats felt the need to insert 17 pages of controversial language regarding the makeup of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRB).

The language inserted into the tax conformity bill made changes that were not heard once in committee as the bill made its way through the committee process. The public did not have the opportunity to offer input on these changes, and legislators were not given the opportunity to ask questions and thoroughly vet the proposed changes to the IRRB.

The changes to the IRRB are an important issue that should have received transparent and thorough vetting through the legislative process. The language inserted by the Senate removes citizen representation from the board, and replaces them with politicians.

Ultimately I voted for the bill because of the tax conformity provisions, but I still have deep reservations about the complete lack of transparency in the process. The DFL should refrain in the future from attaching controversial provisions on to otherwise common-sense and non-controversial legislation. This sets a bad precedent and prevents the legislature from conducting business in the transparent manner that the public deserves.

You can read more about these changes in a column that appeared last week in the Duluth News Tribune by clicking here.

Basic Skills Test for Teachers

Last week, I appeared on KSTP News to discuss a bill that would repeal entirely a requirement that teachers pass the basic skills test in order to receive their teacher license.

If there are special circumstances where basic skills testing may not be appropriate, such as for teachers who teach in foreign-language immersion programs who may not be native English speakers, we should address those exceptions individually rather than repeal the requirement entirely. It would be a mistake to lower the standards we have for our teachers.

The Pioneer Press wrote an editorial on the matter, agreeing that it would be better to work to amend the requirements rather than repeal them altogether. You can read that editorial by clicking here and you can see my appearance on KSTP by clicking here.

Have a wonderful week,

Sondra Erickson
State Representative, District 15A

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