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

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Legislative Update (3-20-15)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Dear Neighbors,

Thank you to those who visited St. Paul this week. I appreciated our discussions on a wide variety of topics and am enjoyed learning about your thoughts and concerns.

Education Policy Bill

As chair of the Education Innovation Policy Committee, I am committed to provide all Minnesota students the opportunity to receive a world class education. On Tuesday, I provided members of our committee a walk through of this year’s education policy bill and on Thursday helped pass the bill to the Committee on Education Finance.

Ultimately this bill seeks to improve the quality of education for our students by ensuring that we have the best teachers in our classrooms.

The bill looks to innovate and streamline the licensure process for Minnesota teachers:


  • Improve license testing options for candidates by providing both a test written by Minnesota teachers and/or use of the ACT scores in reading, writing and math
  • Innovate and streamline ways to allow qualified teachers who were licensed or trained in other states to be eligible to teach in Minnesota
  • Create a better portfolio style application for the licensure process already in law
  • Allow local school boards and personnel committees to approve the use of community experts in the classroom instead of going through the state’s Board of Teaching
Another key element of the bill is repealing the use of seniority only when school districts have to make difficult layoff decisions. Our bill allows school boards and bargaining units to create a plan that includes seniority, but also includes other components such as performance.
Our bill also provides innovative reforms to improve learning in the classroom. These reforms include:


  • Encouraging project-based learning, service learning, and other options for students to earn college credit in technical schools while continuing as a high school student
  • Reducing testing so that the only required test is the Minnesota Comprehensive Test in grades 3-8 (this also fulfills the federal requirement for accountability) plus offer the ACT Plus Writing - at no cost - as an option for high school juniors or seniors.

I am eager for this bill to begin its journey through the legislative process and for the important reforms that will come about from its passage.

Governor’s Supplemental Budget Proposal

Governor Dayton released this week details of his supplemental budget proposal. With the supplemental budget proposal included, the Governor’s budget now increases general funding spending by $3.7 billion over the current biennium. This brings the budget proposal to $43 billion in the 2016-17 fiscal years.

The Governor’s supplemental budget spends all but $13 million of the state’s $1.9 billion budget surplus. Included in the proposal is new or increased spending on a number of items. Noticeably absent in the Governor’s proposal is any new spending on transportation. It is disappointing to see the Governor choose to continue his push towards a new gas tax to pay for our roads and bridges instead of prioritizing some of this surplus money on transportation improvements.

Minnesota families expect us to spend their tax dollars wisely, not wastefully. That’s why I am committed to slowing the unsustainable growth of government and ensure that state government lives within its means.

Staying in Touch

I enjoyed meeting with many of you at the town hall with Sen. Brown last Saturday. Thank you for sharing your concerns and offering your solutions to the issues we discuss here in the legislature. Your input is valuable to us.

Among the issues was privacy in regard to the privacy and protection of students using locker rooms and restrooms in our district and charter schools per a transgender policy adopted by the MN High School League (a bill that will be heard later this session), rural water systems, infrastructure for small cities, economic development for small cities, five percent campaign to ensure that those who work with vulnerable adults receive a much needed increase in pay, use of Legacy dollars, bike trails in the area from Kathio and Father Hennepin State Parks, new licensing by the DNR – lack of training for retailers who will sell licenses under a new online system, data practices for local governments and drainage ditches per wetland mitigation.

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 great weekend,