On Wednesday, at a signing ceremony on the steps of the Minnesota Capitol, Gov. Mark Dayton signed the Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act into law.
“Nobody in this state or nation should have to feel bad about themselves for being who they are,” Dayton said at the ceremony “This law says not in Minnesota.”
(The entire signing ceremony was captured by TheUptake)
Later, Dayton’s reelection campaign used the issue in an email:
“Today, Governor Dayton made history by signing the Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act, a bill requiring all Minnesota school districts to develop and enforce a plan to reduce bullying….When you look at where we came from, this is an incredible accomplishment. Just three years ago a U.S. Department of Education report found Minnesota’s anti-bullying law was one of the country’s weakest. It was only 37 words!…Now, we’ve got a bill that will allow students to go to school feeling safe and supported.”
SEIU Minnesota State Council praised the bill’s passage:
“The Safe Schools Act is a big victory for students in Minnesota, and the members of SEIU Local 284 are proud to have supported this bill,” said Carol Nieters, Executive Director of SEIU Local 284. “Every child in our state deserves the opportunity to learn in a safe and supportive environment, and this bill is a great step towards making that a reality.”
SEIU was part of a coalition of more than 100 religious, civil, and cultural groups who backed the bill.
But the Minnesota Family Council was not one of them. The group’s CEO, John Helmberger, railed against the signing of the bill. “When it comes to addressing bullying, the right approach is to create a clear definition of bullying that empowers local schools to address behavior and prohibit bullying against all students equally, and protects the rights of parents to be involved. The right approach is to consider many options, ideas, and find the best solution for all.This legislature has done the exact opposite of the right approach. The bill passed by the DFL majority is a bureaucratically-heavy unfunded mandate that casts parents to the side, is unclear, inhibits free speech and freedom of religion rights, and provides more protection for some students over others.”
A version of the bill had been offered at the Minnesota Legislature for nearly a decade. It passed such a bill in 2009 but was vetoed by Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Until Wednesday, Minnesota’s anti-bullying law was among the nation’s weakest at just 37 words. With Dayton’s signature, that law is considered one of the strongest.