Despite what Gov. Tim Pawlenty and legislative leaders said several weeks ago would be a flood-only related special session, several DFL lawmakers are planning to introduce an anti-bullying measure when the bodies briefly reconvene.
State Sen. Scott Dibble and Rep. Jim Davnie, both Democrats from Minneapolis, plan to propose a bill that would require Minnesota school districts to update their anti-bullying policies to prohibit harassment based on things like race, religion, sexual orientation and disability.
It would prohibit the harassment or violence in all forms, including electronically, and school employees would have to be trained on the policy.
“The special session was called to respond to emergencies across the state. The bullying epidemic in our schools is, in fact, an emergency,” Dibble said in a statement. “Several Minnesota parents have linked their children’s suicides to bullying issues in the past year, and countless other youth are dealing with harassment when they walk into their school buildings every single day.”
Pawlenty is waiting on federal disaster declaration before calling in lawmakers, but a special session could happen as soon as Thursday.
In a statement, state Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mezeppa, said the session should only focus on flood relief for southern Minnesota.
“I am extremely disappointed that House and Senate Democrats are trying to satisfy their insatiable appetite to create more government mandates during a special session. Flood relief is desperately needed in southern Minnesota. In my district, the floods basically wiped three of my communities, Zumbro Falls, Hammond, and Jarrett, off the map. Residents can’t live in their homes, and businesses can’t open their doors. These folks need state assistance immediately. What they do not need is a bullying bill, or any other bill deemed ‘urgent’ by the legislative majority.”