Capitol Review: Myhra Rolls Out Transparency Bill in Wake of School Severance Kerfuffle

Last week, Republican Rep. Pam Myhra put forward legislation intended to clarify state Data Practices law regarding large settlements with public employees.

Burnsville's Rep. Pam Myhra has crafted a bill in response to a rocking Independent School District 191.

In the past few weeks, news broke that former district HR Director Tania Chance had left in the middle of a two-year contract, taking with her a $250,000 severance settlement. So far, the district has not released much information about what went on behind the scenes, citing state Data Practices law. Hence, last Monday Myhra introduced House File 2647 — a bill that would make any settlement agreement that includes a payout to public employees available to the public. The bill also classifies agreements pertaining to dispute resolution as public documents.

"Parents and taxpayers alike have wanted transparency. The school district has wanted transparency within constraints of the law, but there are many questions left unanswered," Myhra told the House's Education Finance Committee.

Myhra said she'd spoken with district officials about the bill. According to her School Board Chair Ron Hill seemed in favor of the measure.

The flap in ISD 191 coincides with a similar controversy at the St. Paul Conservatory for the Performing Arts. Myhra's bill would apply to charter schools as well, she told the committee.

Also at the Capitol...

These are just a few of the issues with which Burnsville legislators have been recently involved in St. Paul.

Other bills introduced last week

• Sen. Dan Hall (R-Burnsville) authored Senate File 2244 — a bill that would require divorcing couples with children to attend two hours of mediation to develop a parenting plan. The bill allowed for exceptions if neither party could afford mediation or one parent has been convicted of domestic abuse or a serious crime. The bill was introduced last Monday.

• Hall is also listed as an author of a controversial bill that would alter abortion law — S.F. 2242. The bill would require doctors to determine whether the fetus has a heartbeat before an abortion could be performed. If a fetal pulse is detected, abortion is off the table unless birth poses a grave risk to the pregnant woman. S.F. 2242 debuted last Monday. 

Action on bills previously introduced

Gov. Mark Dayton shot down a bill passed by the legislature that would allow deadly force to be used in self defense in more circumstances than state law currently allows. 

H.F. 1467 is the revival of a bill introduced last session. The bill concern's the citizen's right to use deadly force on their property — which is currently defined as the home proper. H.F. 1467 would expand the definition of "dwelling" to include porches, yards, cars and tents. The House voted 85-47 in favor of the bill on Feb. 29, with unanimous support from local representatives. The bill passed 40-23 in the state senate.

Dayton didn't agree. The governor vetoed the measure last Monday.


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