MNGOP runs out the clock on anti-bullying bill
Salon's headline says the "GOP actually bullies an anti-bullying bill." We wouldn't go that far, but however you want to describe it, MNGOP senators did whatever it took to prevent an anti-bullying bill from coming up for a vote.
OUR COVER FEATURE: Gay bullying: In wake of suicides, schools face federal scrutiny
As the last day of this year's legislative session began earlier today, Sen. Scott Dibble, D-Minneapolis, decided to pull the plug on his anti-bullying bill after MNGOP senators promised to force 10 more hours of debate on it. It was approved by the House earlier this month in a 72-57 vote.
The Safe and Supportive Schools Act would've required school districts to develop "clear definitions of bullying, harassment, and intimidation; training and resources for students, staff, and volunteers; and forward specific procedures for schools to report bullying incidents."
But according to a Pioneer Press report, opponents argued the bill was "too expensive and overly directive." An estimate by the Minnesota Management and Budget Office service pegged the annual overall cost at roughly $20 million.
In comments made to MPR, MNGOP Minority Leader David Hann of Eden Prairie characterized the legislature's bullying debate as one "our members and many people in the state frankly don't think is needed and we don't like."
"We're getting down to the end of session and there's other things that we need to do," he added.
But Dibble said any Republican who doesn't think there's a need for stronger anti-bullying laws in Minnesota schools simply isn't talking to the right people.
"Republican after Republican got up and said, 'I talked to superintendents and they say things are just fine in our schools,'" Dibble told MPR. "Not one of them talked about talking to kids themselves. Well, I talked to literally hundreds of kids and they tell us things are not fine in their schools."
In a statement, Dibble promised that the DFL will try again to pass an anti-bullying bill next year.
"This failure is only a setback. This bill remains a live bill," Dibble said. "We will take it up first thing next February and put every word of it into law."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss City Pages' biggest stories.