Minnesota Anti-Bullying Bill Gets Governor’s Signature

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Governor Mark Dayton signed Minnesota’s anti-bullying bill into law just hours after a long debate over its merits ended in the House.

After he signed the bill Dayton praised the debate that went on around it, calling most of it “heart felt” from both sides. However, he took exception to comments that the Safe and Supportive Schools Act was “fascism” and that it was like the police state of George Orwell’s novel 1984. Those comments came from Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria) and Jim Newberger (R-Becker).

“No young person should be forced to choose between going to school or being safe. But today, far too many are put in that position,” said Sen. Dibble, who authored the bill in the Senate. “Many of those students courageously stepped forward to share the pain of their experiences and to ask us to do better. Many more continue to feel isolated, afraid and despairing. Today we are able to answer them, and thanks to the amazing work of those students, parents, educators and health care professionals, Minnesota schools will be safer, healthier environments for all kids.”

“This new law will empower students, parents, teachers, and administrators to create safe and supportive schools for all Minnesota kids,” said Rep. Davnie, who authored the bill in the House. “That will create an environment where more students can achieve, and more students graduate from high school.”

11-year-old Jake Ross of Forest Lake told the crowd of supporters on the front steps of the Capitol that he had been looking forward to this day. He said he had been a victim of bullying in the second grade.

Republicans objections made for lively, but long debate

Before the final 69-63 House vote to approve the anti-bullying bill, Republicans compared it to the police state in George Orwell’s novel 1984, labeled it “Minnesota-style fascism” and promoted spanking as a better solution to deal with school bullies.

Here are some of those moments from the debate.

Representative Jim Newberger (R-Becker) first compares a proposed Minnesota anti-bullying law to George Orwell’s 1984 police state, and then draws an analogy of standing up to Hitler.

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“Minnesota-style fascism” is how Representative Mary Franson (R-Alexandria) characterizes the anti-bulling bill. She also says the bill is an “attack on the Bible and conservative Christians.”

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Representative Mike Benson (R-Rochester) says the anti-bullying bill will have a “chilling effect” on religious free speech and that it was being pushed by a “radical special interest group” called OutFront Minnesota. OutFront Minnesota is one of several LGBT groups supporting the legislation and which worked to defeat a Republican-backed Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Minnesota.

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Representative Glenn Gruenhagen (R-Glencoe) suggests repealing laws that prevent corporal punishment in schools as a better solution to the bullying problem. When he was a kid, he says he bullied a girl on a bus. The bus driver then beat him for doing so. Gruenhagen says that solved the bullying problem. He offers another story about a fellow teacher that he says shows preventing teachers from beating children causes more problems because the anger becomes pent-up and the teachers eventually punch out the student.”

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Full video of the anti-bullying bill signing ceremony

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