Tricounty News

Week in Review: April 26

This week at the Capitol, several omnibus budget bills were brought before the full Senate for debate and a final vote. On Thursday of this week the Omnibus E-12 Education bill was considered. This bill in its current form will spend $15.7 billion over the next two years on education. This amounts to 41 percent of the state general fund budget.

The bill also includes an optional expansion of all-day kindergarten and eliminates any parental fee for use of the program. This proposal also makes numerous policy changes to teacher licensure requirements and testing for students. Also included is an increase in the current school shift which has been discussed widely over the past few years and no funding is included to pay back the remaining portion of the existing shift.

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The Torn Curtain

There is an odd detail in the story of Jesus’ crucifixion. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke all draw attention to the fact that, at the moment Jesus breathed His last, a curtain in the temple – which was a pretty good distance from where He was crucified - tore in two from top to bottom. At a moment as dramatic as the death of Jesus, a set of ruined drapes in another location hardly seems to matter!

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Women and Sunshine Week

As we celebrate Women’s History month, we should pay homage to a resolute group of women who deserve recognition during Sunshine Week, another March event.  Sunshine Week calls attention to journalists who courageously brought to light information that governmental and other authorities prefer to keep hidden. Their notable ranks include women who have insisted for nearly two centuries on their right to cover the nation’s capital in spite of prejudice against their gender.

Three decades before the Civil War, Anne Royall, an impoverished widow, started her own newspaper, Paul Pry, in Washington. As the name implied, she had no hesitancy in exposing abuses of power such as unauthorized use of government horses and carriages by public officials.

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Women Journalists and Sunshine Week

As we celebrate Women’s History month, we should pay homage to a resolute group of women who deserve recognition during Sunshine Week, another March event.  Sunshine Week calls attention to journalists who courageously brought to light information that governmental and other authorities prefer to keep hidden. Their notable ranks include women who have insisted for nearly two centuries on their right to cover the nation’s capital in spite of prejudice against their gender.

Three decades before the Civil War, Anne Royall, an impoverished widow, started her own newspaper, Paul Pry, in Washington. As the name implied, she had no hesitancy in exposing abuses of power such as unauthorized use of government horses and carriages by public officials.

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Urdahl: Education issues at the forefront

A few different issues pertaining to education arose recently at the Capitol, ranging from start dates, to K-12 funding and closing the skills gap in our workforce.

I have authored a bill to form a task force which would identify ways we can provide more students opportunities at our two-year vocational schools. We have been funneling too many students to four-year institutions over the years, leaving some people in mismatched career programming and creating a growing skills gap in our state.

There is a shortage of qualified employees in a variety of workforce sectors, especially manufacturing. A survey shows close to half of Minnesota business respondents (47 percent) had positions that were unfilled due to lack of qualified applicants, including 13 percent with 10 percent or more of jobs unfilled. These same respondents (53 percent) expect the skills gap to become even greater in the coming years.

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