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< Should Met Council have staggered terms? | Main | Tony O is in the House >

Props to Speaker Kelliher

Posted at 2:56 PM on April 16, 2008 by Michael Marchio (7 Comments)

Hey, she just mentioned the MFL on the House floor. Bonus points for her teams! MFL came up when Rep. Debra Hilstrom (DFL-Brooklyn Center) asked to reconsider a bill that had been postponed earlier, but couldn't remember the file number. Speaker Kelliher said she can lose Fantasy Legislature points for that offense. Listen to the audio (RealPlayer).

Next year, we're going to have to find some way to even the playing field for the Speaker, and for the President of the Senate, Sen. Jim Metzen. As the chair of every floor discussion, they aren't able to give a speech and win floor-a-palooza points. For today, the Commish is issuing points by decree for Speaker Kelliher.

Rep. Hilstrom is actually #8 in our Power Rankings, the highest in the House, but after careful consideration, the Speaker's advice on her points is not well taken, and we'll leave her totals unharmed.

By this point in the session, committee hearings on regular, non-omnibus bills dwindle down to a exclusive few, and lawmakers put their nose to the grindstone trying to get all the bills waiting for final approval out of their chamber and over to the other one. That's bad for the bills that haven't made it to the floor, but good for MFL managers, because passing them off the floor is worth twice passing them out of the committee.

One, though, looks like it might be red meat for the governor. SF2965, sponsored by Sen. Linda Higgins. Intrepid MPR reporter Tim Pugmire breaks it down for us here.

The bill sets certain requirements for surrogate mothers, including that they be at least 21 years of age and are able to pass medical and mental health evaluations. It also establishes that when a child is born the intended parents immediately have legal custody.

It also removes gender-specific language, making it apply for same-sex couples. Click on the bill number to take a look at the language. While I don't believe the governor has said whether or not he would support it, if you take the Republican senators' opposition as any indication, this one could be headed for a veto.

Another bill, SF3001, the omnibus education policy bill, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Wiger, was approved. Included in it is a provision that will raise the high school dropout age from 16 to 18. Check out Bob Collins on the bill over at NewsCut

Minority Leader David Senjem made a great point, or rather, asked a great question during the debate on the bill. He said there is an Amish community in his district, and he wanted to know if this would apply to them.

Sen. Wiger didn't have an answer for him, but the Supreme Court might. Chief Justice Warren Burger - he's one of us - wrote the opinion for the majority in a case called Wisconsin v. Yoder, in 1972.

Chief Justice Berger actually wrote quite movingly about the Amish, ruling that they don't have to go to school past the 8th grade.

There can be no assumption that today's majority is "right" and the Amish and others like them are "wrong." A way of life that is odd or even erratic but interferes with no rights or interests of others is not to be condemned because it is different.

The State, however, supports its interest in providing an additional one or two years of compulsory high school education to Amish children because of the possibility that some such children will choose to leave the Amish community, and that if this occurs they will be ill-equipped for life. The State argues that if Amish children leave their church they should not be in the position of making their way in the world without the education available in the one or two additional years the State requires. However, on this record, that argument is highly speculative. There is no specific evidence of the loss of Amish adherents by attrition, nor is there any showing that upon leaving the Amish community Amish children, with their practical agricultural training and habits of industry and self-reliance, would become burdens on society because of educational short-comings. Indeed, this argument of the State appears to rest primarily on the State's mistaken assumption, already noted, that the Amish do not provide any education for their children beyond the eighth grade, but allow them to grow in "ignorance." To the contrary, not only do the Amish accept the necessity for formal schooling through the eighth grade level, but continue to provide what has been characterized by the undisputed testimony of expert educators as an "ideal" vocational education for their children in the adolescent years.

There is nothing in this record to suggest that the Amish qualities of reliability, self-reliance, and dedication to work would fail to find ready markets in today's society. Absent some contrary evidence supporting the State's position, we are unwilling to assume that persons possessing such valuable vocational skills and habits are doomed to become burdens on society should they determine to leave the Amish faith, nor is there any basis in the record to warrant a finding that an additional one or two years of formal school education beyond the eighth grade would serve to eliminate any such problem that might exist.

The full opinion is right here. It seems like the Amish are on solid ground, but the Commish is no lawyer, so he could be mistaken. Its something I'm sure the Senate will be looking closer at this before it gets final approval.

Comments (7)

No, Commish, you are exactly right. The Yoder decision exempted the Amish from mandatory school attendance requirements. I'm not a lawyer, but I was all over this case as part of some research I did as a debate coach a while back.

Posted by Aaron | April 16, 2008 9:25 PM

Rep. Hilstrom is not from St. Louis Park. I was a bit confused for a minute, as I worked on both SLP Rep's campaigns (Winkler & Simon). You may want to fix this slip! :)

Posted by Gretchen Halverson | April 17, 2008 8:36 AM

Right you are, Gretchen. I am lucky to have such attentive readers. Thanks, I'll make that change.

Posted by Michael Marchio | April 17, 2008 11:12 AM

Thanks for not dinging Rep. Hillstrom, she and the rest of the Carriers are going to have a tough enough row to hoe to make up the 700 or so points keeping them from the top spot in the Brown League. Considering the Elite's slew of points from the first month of the session and where we started, we're fortunate to be in second place right now. But this is a marathon, not a sprint, it ain't over 'til it's over, and even Napoleon had his Watergate.

Go Carriers!

Posted by Doug Gray | April 17, 2008 11:51 AM

Come get some, Carriers.


The Ultraliberal Elite

Posted by Aaron | April 17, 2008 12:18 PM

Oops, make that 500 or so points. ;)

Go Carriers!

Posted by Doug Gray | April 18, 2008 11:57 AM

Well then, why would anyone need to go past the 8th grade? I think 8th grade is really sufficient. By then one can read and write and perform arithmetic. What's the big deal? I completed a master's degree, and I don't think it really helped me except in the eyes of others. It didn't make me more money, and it didn't help me get along better in the world. I also think Jamie Lynn Spears is old enough to be a good mother.

Posted by Rebecca Lee | June 24, 2008 1:48 PM