By Don Davis
Gov. Mark Dayton put pen on paper 15 hours after final legislative approval of an anti-bullying bill, enacting a new law requiring schools to have bullying prevention policies and providing guidance about how they would be written.
Dayton signed the bill late Wednesday afternoon in front of many legislators and dozens of the bill’s other supporters.
“Nobody in this state or this nation should have to feel bad about who they are,” Dayton said.
The House passed the bill 69-63 early Wednesday, following nearly 12 hours of debate. Senators passed it earlier.
Bill sponsor Rep. Jim Davnie, D-Minneapolis, said the measure will let school districts write their own anti-bullying policies.
“Frankly, we’d rather that school districts engage their community and create new policy to limit bullying that we know is happening rather than use the state model policy that will be created with the passage of this bill,” Davnie said, adding that the new law “sets a high standard for defining bullying.”
But Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, said the new law creates a “one-size-fits-all mandate.”
“I trust the schools in our community to address bullying more effectively than politicians and bureaucrats in St. Paul,” Franson said. “Instead of empowering local school districts, this bill infringes on the rights of students, parents and locally elected school boards.”