The school’s choice in front and in the center as the Capitol reopens to the public
Catholics are back at St. Paul’s State Capitol to make their voices heard in person now that the doors of âthe people’s houseâ are reopened to the public. A 15-month shutdown amid the pandemic has moved most legislative affairs and public advocacy online.
When the doors reopened on June 10, staff at the Minnesota Catholic Conference joined with parents and others in asking Gov. Tim Walz to sign a school choice law. The rally was led by Exodus Minnesota, an organization founded by five black mothers who believe that expanding school choice is essential to ensure that all students can access a quality education. They advocate for the creation of education savings accounts that would allocate funds to the child rather than the school systems, allowing parents to decide how their education dollars are spent.
After Walz refused to meet them following an invitation they hand-delivered to his residence, Exodus’ moms left their press conference and joined the governor at his press conference. Although he again refused to listen to their concerns, the presence of School Choice supporters has become an enduring image of this month’s special session and a reminder to lawmakers that the Choice of School movement school is not going to go away.
Not only are citizen advocates and lobbyists back inside the Capitol, but lawmakers have returned to the chambers for a special session as well. The special session, called by Walz to extend his COVID-19 peacetime emergency powers by 30 days, is expected to continue until the legislature passes the state’s $ 52 billion biennial budget.
Officials are expected to reach a deal by the July 1 deadline, but other than COVID relief, very few items on either party’s wish list will be accomplished as the legislature is divided along partisan lines. Senate Republicans are focused on reducing or keeping taxes stable, and Walz, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and House Democrats are focused on increasing spending on public schools.
In the meantime, MCC staff continue to advocate for several issues to be included in the final budget. These include: driver’s licenses and non-compliant ID cards for immigrants, education savings accounts for students, non-public educational assistance, payday loan reform, health and safety won, driver’s license suspension reform, emergency services and funding for housing programs, net safety for the state’s poorest families, and an expansion of a medical assistance program to include at least six months of coverage for postpartum women.
Tell Sens. Klobuchar and Smith to oppose the equality law
As Catholics, we believe that everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. The Equality Act, which the US Senate is expected to pass soon, does in many ways the opposite and must be fought. Instead of respecting differences in beliefs about marriage and sexuality, the equality law would discriminate against people of faith.
Learn more and send your message to Sens. Klobuchar and Smith at MNCatholic.org/ActionCenter.