Friday, February 21, 2014

MN Legislative Session

Here is an interesting summary compliments of Parents United... I thought the bullet below was interesting, since I had never heard of it until now.
"Governor Dayton has made clear his desire to streamline government and has been direct with his commissioners about making that happen. Whether legislation may be required to accomplish his goal is yet to be determined, but expect debate on repealing the business-to-business tax passed last session."
 Thoughts regarding this bullet or any of the others?


jerrye92002 said...

Well, I notice a glaring mistake right off the bat: State senators are not up for election this year. I wonder how many other mistakes or misguided plans are hidden a bit deeper? For example, do they support or oppose a "bullying bill" that will vastly increase bullying?

John said...

Personally I do not support a State law to deal with bullying. I am pretty sure that is why we have school boards, Principals, Teachers, etc.

I understand that the silly law will make them accountable, and probably legally and financially liable for a number of things that are or should be outside their control.

Though I will need you to help me understand how it will increase bullying???

John said...

Here is a document that shows the task force's recommendation. Page 12, the policy recommendations really seem to focus on the LGBT / transgender component. From this I am assuming they must be the driving force behind the bill.

jerrye92002 said...

I don't see the document you describe. You are correct it is almost entirely at having the almighty State FORCE students into "right thinking" about LGBT issues. The State, in other words, will BULLY children, schools, communities and families into acceptance and even celebration of the gay lifestyle. The "crimes" and penalties in this bill are just outrageous.

John said...

Oops - Here is the Link

John said...

"almighty State FORCE students into "right thinking" about LGBT issues"

I think that comment explains why many people think this is necessary. Apparently there are folks in the state that think it is okay to harass a child because of their sexual orientation.

When in reality it is unacceptable to harass a child. Whether it be for hair color, race, fashion sense, sex, stutter, religion, accent, sexual orientation, disability, etc !!!

I keep hoping that even the religious Conservatives in the rural school districts would have enough common sense to protect all children, not just ones that conform to their belief system.

jerrye92002 said...

And I think your comment tells me why this bill is so dangerous. It is not OK to HARM a child, even for a child, but this bill essentially criminalizes behaviors that used to be called "teasing" or "razzing" or just plain "silly kid stuff." Look at how the laws on zero tolerance have been stretched beyond all rational bounds, such as when a six-year-old is expelled for kissing a little girl on the hand, or a 7-year-old is expelled for nibbling his Pop-tart in a shape the adults claim looked like a gun.
This law is another example, only worse. Sure, nobody wants to see kids beating up on other kids for any reason, but this bill goes way, way, beyond that, and the penalties (of which the parents do not even need be notified) strike me as extremely disproportionate.

Notice also we aren't protecting the kids with red hair or freckles or even black skin, but simply those that might be called "gay," true or not. Whatever is wrong with simply letting teachers and parents create a reasonable, rational discipline policy that keeps children from being hurt while still allowing kids to be kids?

John said...

Should the Christian Right believing Teacher who works to stop kids from picking on the Physically Disabled, Black or Freckled Kid be allowed to overlook kids picking on the Jewish, Gay, etc kids?

Some Christian Right folks could see that anti-gay and anti-Jew peer pressure as a good thing. From their perspective, it could prevent that poor confused child from going to hell.

Remember as we always say. The path to hell is paved with good intentions...

John said...

I dropped Mary from Parent's United an email with your "State Senator" comment correction. She thanks you for the feedback and agrees you are correct. Site correction is still pending when I just checked...

Sean said...

"Notice also we aren't protecting the kids with red hair or freckles or even black skin, but simply those that might be called "gay," true or not."

This is not true. The draft report and the bill merely require that targeting based on LGBT be included in the criteria along with all the others.

jerrye92002 said...

"Should the Christian Right believing Teacher who works to stop kids from picking on the Physically Disabled, Black or Freckled Kid be allowed to overlook kids picking on the Jewish, Gay, etc kids?"

Are you trying to say that a Christian teacher would do such a thing? What a bigot you are! And even if you are not, is it really better that the heavy hand of State government step in and decide the definition of "bullying," who may bully or be bullied, and what the penalties can be for the slightest infraction of these one-size-fits-all rules? What is really wrong with the status quo, where physical abuse is punished proportional to the crime, and other "mistreatment" is handled as appropriate to the case, by the local teacher/administration?

jerrye92002 said...

Sean, thank you for the correction. I claim, however, that we would not be talking about bullying at all as a legislative matter without that addition, and the addition of that item is what makes the rest of the bill so distasteful-- because it elevates teasing and other normal (but not nice) childhood behaviors to the equivalent of physical abuse, and then imposes harsh punishments on offenders who, in most cases, don't "know any better." One of the things our schools are supposed to teach are the values of tolerance and respect. But if I say something that you misinterpret and I get expelled for it, what have I learned?

Sean said...

"the addition of that item is what makes the rest of the bill so distasteful-- because it elevates teasing and other normal (but not nice) childhood behaviors to the equivalent of physical abuse, and then imposes harsh punishments on offenders who, in most cases, don't "know any better." "

Perhaps you should read the bill, because nothing of this sort is in it. The bill merely requires school districts to have policies regarding bullying that cover a list of criteria. No punishments are specified in the bill.

In fact, Section 3 Subdivision 2(b)(3) of the bill specifically states that the policy shall "emphasize remedial responses over punitive measures".

One can argue that this is something that the state shouldn't be requiring -- and I would have some sympathy for that argument. But, overall, what is in the bill is not radical at all, and gives local districts significant freedom to craft policies that meet local desires.

John said...

Bill Language

John said...

Well I found the wording that I find absolutely unacceptable. Checkout lines 2.30 to 2.32 below. To me this opens the schools to huge liability lawsuits and financial settlements. Somehow these yahoos think the school is supposed to be accountable for the facebook, twitter, etc student usage and cyber bullying "off school premises.

We are now feeding kids because parents can not be held accountable. Now they want the poor schools to "play" parents after school hours. What are they thinking?

"Subdivision 1. Local and state policy; scope and application. (a) This section
2.24applies to:

2.25(1) conduct on school premises, at school functions or activities, and on school


2.27(2) use of electronic technology and communications on school premises, during

2.28school functions or activities, on school transportation, and on school computers,

2.29networks, forums, and mailing lists; and

2.30(3) use of electronic technology and communications off school premises to the

2.31extent such use is reasonably foreseeable to substantially and materially disrupt student

2.32learning or the school environment."

John said...

Apparently they and their parents have been failing the students.

I don't think a little childhood razzing led to 9 suicides in AH alone.

And of course I think a Religious Right Christian could/would deny, condone or conduct harassment against a gay child. That religious community seems to believe it is just sinful poor behavior, a choice... Likely no different than a child who chooses to steal from their peers, sneak into the other sexes locker room, act up in school, etc.

And from their view, rationally it would be their responsibility as the responsible adult to try and curb the poor life choices of that disturbed child.

No different than the Uganda's Gay Hunt. I am certain that many folks see stopping "gay" behavior as no different than stopping pedophilia, incest, etc.

Sean said...

I can see the potential issues with the lines you cite. But the reality is that the schools are already policing such off-campus behavior (as seen in the last week with the Rogers tweeting controversy). I don't think the law expects the schools to be pro-actively monitoring social media, but if they receive a report, they can't turn a blind eye to it.

jerrye92002 said...

Sean, you caught me. I have been taking what I was told about similar bills elsewhere in the country and assuming MN's was similar. Thanks for the link, I will have to read it through. I still think that, in general, this is not the proper purview of State legislators, regardless of the contents. Student discipline is a matter for the local school boards and parents.

As for the tragic student suicides, I note two things: First that only 4 of the 9 were gay, so something other than anti-gay bullying must have been at work, and second, that gays have always committed suicide at a much higher rate than straights, because they cannot live with who they are-- they sense and sometimes even share society's disapproval of their choices. They shouldn't be bullied on top of this inner struggle, but trying to outlaw bullying in every form is simply impossible.

John said...

Rogers Story

In this case it looks like they should have ignored the foolish discussions of teenage boys that occured out of school.

Now let's focus on what the law says:

"This section applies to: 3) use of electronic technology and communications off school premises to the extent such use is reasonably foreseeable to substantially and materially disrupt student learning or the school environment."

Based on my law training... I already hear the plaintiff's lawyer arguing that "the terrible act" was definitiely foreseeable, therefore the school failed in its obligation so the plaintiff should be paid. And a jury forgetting that hindsight is 20/20, forgetting that the parent's should be the responsible party, and thinking that someone should pay.

John said...

"they sense and sometimes even share society's disapproval of their choices"

Good thing most of our society is becoming more tolerant then.

jerrye92002 said...

The devil is in the details, of course, but sometimes the details are worrisome, and sometimes it is the lack thereof that ought to raise concerns in those who think individual liberties are not a playground for politicians. Language like:

"when districts and schools allow noncurriculum-related student groups access to
8.35school facilities, the district or school must give all student groups equal access to the
8.36school facilities regardless of the content of the group members' speech." So, neo-Nazis OK?

Or this: "(2) has a detrimental effect on the physical, social, or emotional health of a student;" Who decides? What IS "social health" anyway? Have you been bullied if you can't hang with the popular kids?

Those are maybe too vague, this is too specific: " [bullying defined as] (7) relates to the actual or perceived race, ethnicity, color, creed, religion, national
4.15origin, immigration status, sex, age, marital status, familial status, socioeconomic status,
4.16physical appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, academic status,
4.17disability, or status with regard to public assistance, age, or any additional characteristic
4.18defined in chapter 363A of a person or of a person with whom that person associates, but
4.19the conduct does not rise to the level of harassment." Just as a for instance, some guy wanting to shower with the girls might be within his rights, under this statute, as a matter of "gender expression." Simple too many words here to NOT create mischief.

And then there is the whole volume of other language that simply says government is going to step in and micromanage interpersonal relationships between little kids (and bigger kids). Whatever happened to personal responsibility for the kids and their parents? What is wrong with the old way, where teachers taught values like respect, and sent kids caught fighting to the principal? Whatever happened to "sticks and stones..."?

jerrye92002 said...

"Good thing most of our society is becoming more tolerant then."

Agreed. So why do we want to make matters worse by telling these kids they can use the law to be "loud and proud" to bully into "tolerance" those who already would be willing to accept "questioning" teens?

John said...

Unfortunately nearly 50% of the state's citizens voted to make same sex marriage illegal "forever" with an amendment.

That indicates that our state has a long ways to go before "who already would be willing to accept "questioning" teens" is our reality...

jerrye92002 said...

What does gay marriage have to do with the acceptance of sexual orientation? Too many people confuse the two, and that has been encouraged by the.... I don't know what to call them.... crowd. They're the same people that said the amendment would "ban gay marriage," when the truth was that it would do nothing of the sort. All it did was to maintain the status quo.

John said...

The status quo being that gay couples were to not be shown the respect, legal protections, financial benefits, etc shown to hetero couples.

Kind of like the folks who argued against the civil rights changes and protections. They according to your logic weren't voting to keep minorities as second class citizens, they were just voting for the status quo.

jerrye92002 said...

I'm sorry, but comparing gay marriage to civil rights is offensive to me. I've always said that the Civil Rights Movement succeeded because people like Rev. Martin Luther King were able to show Christians that the law ran contrary to their Christian beliefs and must be changed. Now we have the law running contrary to Christian belief, and the popular press screaming that the law must be enforced, not changed.

The other thing "wrong with this picture" is that discrimination on the basis of race is wrong because one's race is predetermined at birth. Discrimination against a gay wedding is discriminating against a behavior. Even if I believe that gayness is NOT inborn, if someone-- gay or not-- comes in and wants a wedding cake and doesn't tell me they want two grooms on top, I bake them the cake because I don't know and don't care. If somebody comes in and demands such a cake at gunpoint, we have laws against that, or ought to. Pretty similar to the cases causing all of this fake outrage, when going to another baker would be far simpler. Isn't this just another "in your face" action to force somebody's values on another? I thought we were against that?

Sean said...

It's fascinating to me that we're supposed to be sensitive to Christian beliefs, but those Muslims who don't want to transport alcohol in their taxis or ring up pork at Target were subjected to scorn from conservatives. Under what circumstances are religious beliefs valid for discrimination?

jerrye92002 said...

I feel a bit underinformed on the two issues you cite, but I think the general principle should be that business and personal relationships should not be forced by the State. The Muslim cashiers were not forced to work at Target, and AFAIK a number of accommodations were offered by the company. Similarly the cab drivers were not forced into that vocation or to work in the airport lines. If they wished to turn away business for their religious beliefs, that should be their perogative, I think. That would seem consistent with a baker turning away gay wedding cake business; they lose business but serve their conscience. Is that really something the State should override? And why don't these folks just find another baker? That is what baffles me.

And to get back to topic (sorry for being so OCD about that), but what business is it of the State if little Johnny hasn't (yet) learned the State-approved behavior at home, or accidentally crosses some behavioral line that the STATE demands be obeyed?

John said...

Because little Johnny may bully little Bobby until he commits suicide... Because Johnny's home values see little Bobby as a sinful behaviorially challenged pervert that needs to be punished, rather than a boy that is just wired differently from himself.

It is kind of amusing when Parents like Johnny's end up with a child who is gay/lesbian. All that preaching and they couldn't change the wiring. The challenge is that the religious right still believes it is just a choice / behavior.

A sin just like stealing, adultery, murder, blaspheming, etc.

Where as most educated people are starting to accept that it is simply hard wired. Just like being a man, woman, black, white, able bodied, disabled, etc.

Sean said...

Incorporating as a corporation entitles you to all sorts of benefits. Expecting that people serve the public is one of the responsibilities that should come along with that.

Does that infringe on some liberties? Probably to an extent. I would argue the tradeoff there is worth it, though. Going backwards to a world where people can use the thinnest reeds to discriminate is not the direction we should be moving.

jerrye92002 said...

Well, that thinking was behind the Civil Rights movement, declaring all sorts of private businesses as "public accommodations" and then forcing them to serve, e.g. restaurants, people of all races. That doesn't mean it happened, just that Congress had "legislated morality." And as I pointed out, this was a case where the law helped us uphold our religious values, rather than trampling them as seems to be happening here.

Put another way, racial discrimination was not based in religious freedom, for the most part. Forcing someone to "participate" in a gay wedding IS a violation of their religious freedom. And I'm still waiting for an answer as to why the complainers don't just find another baker? Even if you win in court, and force the baker to bake for you, do you really think that cake is going to be edible?

jerrye92002 said...

Leave aside for the moment whether being gay is "hardwired" or not (though I think it is largely impossible), how does it follow that little Johnny, regardless of his parents' view on the subject, beat little Billy so mercilessly that Billy ends his own life AS A RESULT? How is it that the schools do not stop such behavior, clearly against the law and all norms of behavior, even Johnny's parents.

Given that, why should the State then swoop in and declare that little Johnny is committing some "thought crime" by believing what his parents have taught, and somehow letting that disapproval be known with a few ill-chosen words? Must Billy be completely insulated from differing opinions? From physical abuse, certainly, and from reckless and horrible taunting, probably, but from hurtful words or just thoughts? Someplace we have to draw the line, and by "we" I mean the parents and schools, NOT "big brother."

Put simply, this law isn't needed.

Sean said...

Go back and review your civil rights history. There were plenty of Southern preachers who fought on religious grounds against equal rights for African-Americans (and women, for that matter). Some people still feel that way. But we've decided that those religious objections are out of bounds when it comes to these topics.

As for the specific wedding cake scenario: in a metro area, finding another baker may be an easy prospect. In a small town, maybe not so much. And it should be pointed out, laws like those proposed in Arizona and Kansas law go much further than just the wedding cake issue. The Kansas law, for instance, would have allowed police officers to refuse to answer calls involving homosexuals. Building inspectors could have refused to issue permits to homes owned by same-sex couples. That's insidious and just plain wrong.

Sean said...

"Given that, why should the State then swoop in and declare that little Johnny is committing some "thought crime" by believing what his parents have taught, and somehow letting that disapproval be known with a few ill-chosen words?"

Again, go back and read the proposed statute instead of concocting scenarios that are not reality.

jerrye92002 said...

I cannot find such a record in my Southern Baptist references, quite the opposite in fact, with regard to civil rights. However, they just elected their first African American head of the denomination, and promptly passed a resolution declaring that gay marriage is not a civil rights issue.

And that's the problem. The gay rights advocates keep talking about "equal rights" when they already have them. A gay man, for example, is perfectly free to marry any woman he wants (and who will consent).

As for the wedding cake scenario, I will agree that some of the laws intended to protect religious liberty in such cases go overboard, and that I'm not sure where to draw the line, but it may lie somewhere between official government conduct and that of a private business.

jerrye92002 said...

I did read the legislation, and my biggest problems with it are that it is too specific some places, too vague in others, and totally unnecessary in its entirety. I keep asking, what is the problem this is supposed to solve, and is this really the best way to solve it?

John said...

Bullying LGBT Stats

Churches against Civil Rights

John said...

RLC Civil Issue

I am not sure if the law will resolve the issue, but at least it will stop people from denying that there is a problem.

Sean said...

Here's a short and incomplete history on the topic of religion used to support racism. One need only look at the early career of Jerry Falwell for another example.

You might want to revisit the history of the Southern Baptist convention, too.

jerrye92002 said...

"I am not sure if the law will resolve the issue, but at least it will stop people from denying that there is a problem."

So, it isn't a case of "we have to pass the law to find out what's in it," but worse, "we have to pass the law to find out what it does." I'm sorry, that doesn't work for me. According to your LGBT link, "gay" kids are 3 times more likely to commit suicide than straight kids. Here's an idea: how about we work on THAT problem? Rather than punishing all the other kids for what the "confused" kid may feel (not counting repeated physical or verbal abuse), how about we help to "unconfuse" the kid, at least to the point of dealing with the feelings of being "different" in ways other than suicide?

The other advantage to this approach is that we don't have to care WHY the abuse takes place, meaning we haven't created a new "thought crime" law aimed at kids that may not know any better, yet. And without the thought crime element, what constitutes bullying becomes easier to define as well.

John said...

Think Progress Link
NPR Story Link

I am still confused, if little Johnny keeps his mouth shut and his hands to himself, meaning he does not torment or harass poor confused Bobby...

What will it matter if this law gets passed or not? Johnny will still be free to judge Bobby as an unclean sinner and stay away from him for the most part. Though he may need to be polite if they end up working on a group project together. No one can read Johnny's thoughts or take actions on them. (at least not yet...) Where is this "punishment" of the innocent you are mentioning above.

By the way, the experts seem to think reducing the harassment is the best way to address that gay child suicide problem that you are trivializing. I mean unless you think the kids are killing themselves because they just can't live with the secret.

Maybe in the past I would have agreed with you. However now that half the tv programs show that being gay / lesbian is okay or even fashionable, I think the deaths are more likely caused by harassment from their less tolerant peers or parents.

Now since you are a strong anti-abortion advocate, what possesses you to not promote the strongest anti-bullying laws we can if it can save at least a few lives.

What would you do if you were a teenager in a society of gays, where you were expected to make out with and be intimate with men?

Would your wiring allow you to follow that society's expectations? Look at the nearest man and truly envision yourself wrapped in his arms.

Personally it just makes me shudder.... Where's that SI swim suit magazine???

jerrye92002 said...

Since we already have laws, rules, expectations and norms of behavior that require Johnny to keep his hands to himself and to not use words as weapons, why do we need a law that defines the THOUGHT BEHIND this unacceptable behavior as unacceptable? With this law, we are no longer punishing (especially not with rigid statewide standards) the behavior, but the thought behind the behavior. In other words, if Johnny belittles his little brother unmercifully because "Mom likes you best," this law doesn't bother him. If he calls little brother a "fag," even once, even if he's not sure of the meaning and true or not, he receives the full punishment due under the law.

Before you dismiss that example, are you certain that such things cannot happen in the law? Now that the LGBT activists are firmly behind this bill, what makes you think the intentions are entirely altruistic? Again, is there any substantial evidence that these suicides are the result of obvious bullying, rather than the knowledge of the silent "thought crimes" being perpetrated against them? Isn't the real purpose here to force kids to "think right" rather than act right?

John said...

I don't think so, since most the kids themselves will never read the law or the school's bullying policy.

This is aimed at ensuring the adults behave "correctly"... An effort to ensure the adults do not view the confused LGBT kids as sinners that need to be straigtened out... (did you get that... STRAIGHT ened... hahaha)

jerrye92002 said...

Sorry, but I do not accept your "thinking so" as reassuring. The kids are the ones being punished, and if the intent is to get the adults to "thinking right" that still isn't an acceptable use of law. Again, the legislature can pass any law it wants, but the one they can never repeal is the law of unintended consequences and it seems this bill is loaded with them. Unless you want to believe those consequences are intended.

John said...

I'll ask again, what is your rationale for this statement.

"The kids are the ones being punished"

And the following comment is somewhat amusing since many laws are written to promote/enforce societally acceptable thoughts and behaviors.

"to get the adults to "thinking right" that still isn't an acceptable use of law."

And Conservatives love to use the law in this way. (ie anti...pot, pornography, abortion, prostitution, gay marriage, polygamy, polyandry, etc)

By the way, people are still free to think whatever they want. The bullying and the other laws just dissuade one from taking action on a societally unacceptable thought. And treating GBLT kids differently from other people is becoming societally unacceptable.

jerrye92002 said...

Well, let's see... the kids can be suspended, expelled, have a mark on their permanent record that could keep them out of college. Seems like punishment to me.

And you keep repeating what I say as evidence for your position. My claim is that we already have societal norms, rules and expectations for BEHAVIOR. What this law does is two-fold: It defines bullying in such a way that the "thoughts" of the perpetrator (who may be so young as to not understand the "rules") are what matters, not the behavior. The second thing it does is to create a climate where someone can be accused of bullying without necessarily engaging in egregious behavior. This is a lot like those rules on "zero tolerance" and we all know how well those idiotic things are working. I see a six-year-old was just expelled for pointing a finger at a classmate, with his thumb up.

John said...

"accused of bullying without necessarily engaging in egregious behavior" "the kids can be suspended, expelled, have a mark on their permanent record that could keep them out of college"

How exactly would this bill do these things???

I assume you think this law will in some way encourage Teachers to falsely accuse well behaved children of harassing other children?

What prevents them from doing that today?

Sean said...

The bill, again, doesn't establish any punishments. It only says that districts have to have a policy.

And I don't see anything in the statute that requires anyone to think any particular way. There's a difference between thinking something and behaving in a disrespectful manner.

jerrye92002 said...

Well, it doesn't /say/ they are defining "thought crimes," but what else would you call defining "bullying," an offense requiring "preventive and remedial action" by the schools (aka punishment), by referring to it as doing something BECAUSE of a victim's protected class? In other words, a kid can get beat up, but if the kid is in a protected class than the reason for the beating is assumed to be a hate crime and the kid must be "re-educated." Kids not members of the protected class-- nerds, freckles, poor dressers, etc.-- can now be beat with impunity, as opposed to current law which protects every kid equally. It's a law in search of a problem and guaranteed to cause one.

Sean said...

There's no mention of "protected classes" in the statute, nor does it suggest that it's OK to bully for shall we say, "traditional reasons".

jerrye92002 said...

Really? Why the repeated laundry list of "race, color, creed, national origin, and on and on? It's seems about half the words in the bill. I wonder why you are defending this bill, when it is clearly agenda-driven and unnecessary. We already have state laws requiring schools to have an anti-bullying policy, and they are working.

Sean said...

I'm not defending the bill per se, just pointing out that what you say the bill does isn't what the bill does. There are perfectly legitimate reasons to oppose the bill and it doesn't need to be trumped up with fear-mongering.

jerrye92002 said...

Yes, I wish I could be more clear. But on the other hand simply reading the language of the bill or, worse still, accepting the stated "good intentions" as the actual outcome of the law is not sufficient. One needs to read through it and identify what the incentives or disincentives are, taking into account the realities of government's deeply flawed omniscience and of human nature. We've seen the idiocy perpetrated by "zero tolerance" policies, and I see no reason to trust that this massive government intrusion into interpersonal relationships-- legislating morality-- will be better.