Gene Dornink: Bill for short-term replacement teacher would create 3-year pilot – Austin Daily Herald

friends and neighbors,

It’s been another fast-paced, busy week in the Capitol as your legislature, with committee meetings, legislative hearings, and I’ve had a few opportunities to speak to constituents from my home about the issues that matter to you.

This year my focus is on ensuring a high quality of life for Minnesotans, especially our children when it comes to their education. I had the privilege of meeting some of the superintendents in our district. We have discussed what the progression process will be like for our students. They are deeply committed to getting children back into the classroom safely and quickly so they can resume their learning and make up for lost time from the past year.

To make the most of our education system, I introduced a bill (SF 819) that would increase the number of short-term substitute teachers and make it easier for them to fill in for other teachers. This bill creates a 3-year pilot program that will allow local school leaders to hire qualified, highly qualified individuals. This bill has strong support from local superintendents and educators across the state. The most important thing is to put teachers ahead of students in the classroom and allow them to interact with their peers while receiving their quality education. This is a sensible change that could bring about positive change in school districts across the state.

Another piece of legislation that is close to my heart and one I talked about a lot when you elected me is the introduction of term limits. I believe Minnesota deserves legislators who relate to the people they represent, rather than turning into career politicians who can sometimes be swayed by outside sources. I’m co-authoring a bill that will limit service for over 20 years in the Legislature. This would be a constitutional change that would come into effect after the 2022 election.

I’ve also focused on funding programs that support growth in Minnesota’s agricultural sectors. Among those bills will be added funding for city roads and bridges, small town support, services from Farm Advocates and Minnesota County Fairs. These are all integral parts of our communities, and after hearing from voters what issues stand out, I’m proud to push for their adoption in the legislature. One important bill I have is focused on mental health services for farmers, ranchers and others in the farming community. These include a 24-hour hotline, stigmatization and educational opportunities. Recent years have highlighted just how drastically mental health is impacting our agriculture and farming communities, and this is a good step in bridging the supply gap for these key community members.

Locally, the Mower County Board of Directors voted unanimously to reject California’s auto emissions standards, which Gov. Walz passed in December. The Minnesota Senate has been very vocal about not having to adapt Minnesota to California because it will be more expensive and less effective in our state. We have generally moved toward cleaner cars and energy at our own pace, meeting our own needs as they arise, and this is an unnecessary burden on Minnesotans. I’m glad our community is joining this fight. Together we can make the necessary changes.

In COVID-related news for businesses, Senate urges Minnesota to comply with state tax guidelines for PPP loans. These were forgivable loans given to small businesses under the guise that they would help them make ends meet and keep their employees on the payroll without imposing any state or federal taxes. Now business owners across the state are on the hook for those high taxes that weren’t meant for them. At the federal level, they’re doing it right and they’ve taken away the tax. Minnesotans are taxed enough already, taxing them for it is irresponsible after the year they’ve had. I continue to hope that we can act quickly to comply with federal guidelines while saving Minnesota businesses.

It’s an honor to serve on the Capitol and to be the voice of the incredible people of District 27. We have a unique community with unique needs, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with your opinions or concerns. I’d love to hear from you – email [email protected] or call 651-296-5240.

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