Putting student safety first (4/2/2018)

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By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 4/2/2018

Hello from St. Paul,

Minnesota House Republicans unveiled a legislative package Thursday aimed at putting student safety first.

One of the more important aspects of the plan is that we want to let school districts decide how to best ensure the protection of our students, and are looking to allocate nearly $50 million to schools statewide in order to do that. School building security upgrades, hiring more school resource officers and student counselors are among the options.

There are a number of proposals that will be included in the comprehensive plan, all of which are making their way through various House committees. They include:

  • School resources officers, student support personnel, and other school security programs funded through increased Safe Schools revenue, including a minimum level of funding for small schools.
  • School building security upgrades, and expanded use of Long-Term Facility Maintenance revenue for security projects, including emergency communications systems.
  • School-linked mental health programming to ensure better outcomes for all kids.
  • Physical security audit grants to provide state assistance to review facility security and crisis management policies.
  • Suicide prevention training for teachers to help educators learn how to engage and assist students experiencing mental distress
  • School-based threat assessment teams established to assess, intervene, and report threats facing students, teachers, and staff.

I’ll be sure to provide future updates on the plan as session moves ahead.

On Tuesday, the Minnesota House Agriculture Finance Committee discussed a number of bills addressing mental health for farm families.

As a member of this committee, it was interesting to hear the testimony. Like many other businesses, farmers face mental health struggles which can be caused by any number of problems. First, there is the weather and other things beyond human control. Then there are low commodity prices that make it difficult to make a profit. And there are mandates forced upon them by government.

It’s actually ironic if you think about it. On one hand, perhaps state government is helping to cause farmers stress, and now state government is looking at ways to relieve that stress through counseling and other programs.

I’ll be keeping an eye on this legislation in the weeks ahead.

With the Easter/Passover break upon us, many lawmakers will be getting out of town for a few days. However I plan on sticking around our district, whether it’s attending meetings, touring schools or visiting businesses.

With less than two months remaining in session, it’s important for me to hear from residents in our communities and learn about initiatives on which they want action.

Along those lines, if you have any legislative questions or comments, I strongly encourage you to contact me at any time. Feel free to call 651-296-3135 or email rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn.

Last week constituent Wayne Butt stopped by for a visit. He and his wife Angi own the Historic John P. Furber Farm wedding venue, and he traveled to the Capitol to testify in favor of legislation requiring safety inspections of public buildings by the state fire marshal.

Nanette Marsh and Mary Gabrielson from Ebenezer DayBreak Adult Day Program in Hastings were in last week to speak in favor of House File 3308 which provides protections for older and vulnerable adults.

Megan Aherns, a student from my district, visited me on Thursday to learn about state government. It was great having her join me at a press conference, interviews, committee hearings, a floor session and more.

Have a good week,

Representative Tony Jurgens
523 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155

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