• Sen. Carla Nelson’s “Snow Day Relief Act” passed the Senate on Thursday. While it doesn’t mean legislators have the power to control the weather, it might provide some relief to school districts. The bill co-authored by the Rochester Republican would allow school boards to count snow days this year as regular school days for purposes of meeting the state’s school calendar requirement.
“This allows school districts to avoid possible funding shortfalls, or even the theoretical possibility of jail time for superintendents, due to not meeting the state calendar requirement of 165 days,” a press statement said.
• DFL Gov. Tim Walz and U.S. Sen. Tina Smith were planning on visiting an Altura area farm this morning to meet with local producers who lost cattle and suffered significant economic and structural damage in the blizzard that hit the region last month. The two political leaders will be joined by local producers, state farm leaders as well as federal and state agricultural officials at Rob and Katie Kreidermachers’ farm in Altura.
• Legislation that would let Minnesota voters decide whether to amend the state Constitution to include an equal rights clause has passed the House.
Members of the Democratic-dominated House passed the bill late Thursday. It would put the question on the 2020 ballot, asking voters whether to alter the Constitution to say that people have equal rights regardless of gender.
A much larger hurdle remains for the bill in the Republican-controlled Senate where GOP legislators have raised concerns the amendment could have implications for abortion, and they questioned the use of the term “gender.”
• A bill called Tobacco 21 cleared another hurdle this week in the Minnesota House. The bill would raise the statewide tobacco sale age to 21. The legislation passed the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Division. The 2017 Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey found that youth tobacco use rose for the first time since 2000, driven primarily by use of e-cigarettes and flavored tobacco products.
The U.S. Surgeon General is calling teenage e-cigarette use an epidemic due to its rapid increase.
• On Thursday, the Minnesota House of Representatives voted unanimously to end child marriages in Minnesota. Ninety percent of child marriages occur between individuals with a significant enough age gap that, if not for the marriage, a sexual relationship would constitute statutory rape.
Between 2010 and 2010, nearly 250,000 children, as young as 12 years old, were married in the U.S.
• A bill to address sexual harassment in Minnesota K-12 schools passed out of House committee this week.
The bill was started by Girls United, MN, an organization founded by students at Hopkins High School. Two students testified about the prevalence of sexual harassment and abuse in their schools and the failure of school administrators to respond adequately to the incidents.