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Highlights: Wednesday at the State Capitol

Updated: 03/19/2014 11:44 AM
Created: 03/19/2014 8:25 AM KSTP.com
By: Jennie Olson

Here are some highlights of what’s happening at the Minnesota State Capitol on Wednesday, March 19:

A Senate committee considered and recommended an “anti-bullying” bill. The controversial bill would strengthen Minnesota state law which, at the moment, is only 37 words long.

The goal of the Safe and Supportive Schools Act is to protect all children from bullying and to make schools safer. But opponents say plans to strengthen it would be costly and difficult for schools to enforce.

Opponents are concerned about the bill’s “presumption” that a school will notify the parent of bullying incidents, unless "notifying the parent is not in the best interest of the student." The bill also specifically forbids bullying based on race, religion, physical appearance, sexual orientation, and several other categories, and some say it should be more generic. Other opponents also say the bill would strip school districts of their independence.

Supporters say these concerns are unfounded. They point to Minnesota's current bullying law -- one of the nation's weakest, and just 37 words long -- and say the bill would turn Minnesota's law into one of the strongest. They argue the bill provides a clear definition of bullying, training for students and staff, and specific procedures to follow when bullying occurs.

Also up for debate Wednesday is a bill that would make it illegal for anyone under 18 to use indoor tanning beds. It would require businesses to display a sign in a conspicuous place, at the point of sale, that states it is unlawful for a tanning facility or operator to allow a person under age 18 to use any tanning equipment. Businesses must also post warning signs about the dangers of using a tanning bed within three feet of each tanning station.

Wednesday is also the fourth annual Minnesota Bike Summit on Capitol Hill. It’s hosted by the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota and will focus on the impact cycling has on a person’s health, community and the economy. During morning sessions, attendees will participate in seminars and educational opportunities regarding bicycling and public policies.


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