SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The controversial anti-bullying bill, formally called the Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act, passed the Minnesota Senate on Thursday with a vote of 36 to 31. The bill passed the House of Representatives in 2013.
Governor Dayton has listed the bill as one of his legislative priorities for 2014. Earlier Thursday, House Speaker Paul Thissen, (DFL-Minneapolis), told reporters that, barring any unusual amendments, he did not believe a conference committee would be required to resolve differences between the House and Senate bills.
"What we are trying to do with this bill is make sure that it does not matter for a kid, based on where they live, they should be able to go to school feeling safe," said the author of the bill, Senator Scott Dibble, (DFL) Minneapolis.
Republican Senators stalled a final vote on the bill with a long list of amendments and criticisms of Dibble's bill. A number of Republicans objected to what they said was too much state control and too little parental involvement.
"Heavy handed bureaucracy that does not inform parents that is very, very costly at a time when we need every dollar at the local level," charged Senator Mary Kiffmeyer, (R) Big Lake.
The cost of the bill is estimated at $19 million per year across the entire state.
Dibble's bill defines bullying as "intimidating, threatening, abusive or harming conduct that is objectively offensive." The bill includes the additional requirements that the "prohibited conduct is repeated or forms a pattern."