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

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Legislative Update (2-6-15)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Dear Friends,

Thank you to those of you who visited my office at the Capitol since session started. There were numerous district residents who visited and discussed a wide range of issues. Among them were banking and lending, education, 2nd Amendment rights, soil and water quality, well-being and care for our senior citizens and veteran issues. I always welcome the opportunity to speak with constituents and strongly encourage those of you who have not had the chance to visit the Capitol, to please do so.

Returning Local Control to Our Schools

As chair of the Education Innovation Committee, I am committed to return more control back to local school boards. This week, in committee, we heard two bills that will begin the process of empowering local school boards to make decisions that work best for their individual school districts.

The first two bills we heard, House File 466 and House 100, both address school start dates. In Minnesota, schools are not allowed to begin the school year before Labor Day. HF 100 would allow local school boards to make the decision whether or not they would like to begin the school year either before or after Labor Day. HF 466 would allow school districts to begin the school year on September 1st, for this year only, because Labor Day falls so late this year.

Currently, Minnesota is one of only three states that prevent schools from starting before Labor Day. By repealing current law, we will give elected school boards the authority to make the decision after gathering input from the community that would meet the needs of students, staff, and parents. What works best for the Marshall school district may not work for the Princeton school district and vice versa.

The second bill heard was House File 197. HF 197 would allow flexible learning year programs to be authorized and terminated without the commissioner of education’s approval. There are currently eight school districts in Minnesota that operate on a four-day week, but current law states that before a school district can adopt a four-day work week policy, they must gain approval from the commissioner of education’s office.

According to test scores, there is no decline in learning or performance from districts that have a four-day week structure and those that do not.

These bills offer two ways that begin the process of empowering our educators and local school boards to make decisions that are best for them and the unique circumstances that every community and every local school district have. Locally elected school boards are the backbone of our public schools. This community ownership safeguards transparency, accountability, and equity and excellence in education for every child. Control of public education should be kept close to the community where local school boards are accessible to the people and the voice of the people is heard and holds those on the school board accountable.

Governor’s Cabinet Receives Pay Raises

Recently, lawmakers and the public were made aware that the Governor gave double digit pay increases to members of his cabinet.

The increase could cost the state more than $1.4 million over the biennium, and was approved under one-party, DFL control in 2013. These changes allow the Governor to increase the pay of commissioners without legislative approval.

It is disappointing that the Governor would choose to increase the salaries for his politically appointed commissioners while many of these same state agencies, which these commissioners oversee, are making cuts and requesting more funding due to poor management. Many families across Minnesota would love to receive a pay increase, especially one that ranges from $10,000 to $35,000 dollars a year.

These salary increases will remain under the close watch of the legislature as we continue to look for areas that we can cut wasteful spending and improve the efficiency of government.

Town Hall Dates are Fast Approaching

Senator Dave Brown and I will hold a series of town hall meetings on Saturday, March 14. It is always rewarding to meet with constituents as they share their thoughts, concerns, and ideas on how we can make our state better. I especially encourage you to attend if you are concerned about rising property taxes. Rep. Steve Drazkowski, chair of the Property Tax and Local Government Finance Committee, will be joining Sen. Brown and I to take public input on this important issue. Below is the schedule for March 14th’s town halls:

  • 7:30 am in Princeton at K-Bob Café
  • 9:00 am in Milaca at Hi-Way Café
  • 10:30 am in Onamia at Happy’s Drive-In
  • 11:30 am in Wahkon at Mugg’s
  • 1:00 pm in Isle at Corner Café

Please visit and “like” my Facebook page for updates on all the important legislation and events that are taking place at the Capitol.

As always, please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or comments about issues that are important to you. My door is always open. If you would like to schedule a time to meet, please contact my office at or 651-296-6746.

Have a wonderful weekend,


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