State Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, said he's "reasonably confident" Minnesota lawmakers will approve a new bullying prevention law for the state next year.
Dibble has sponsored anti-bullying legislation at the state Capitol for several years. One version of the legislation did pass in 2009, but was vetoed by then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
Dibble told MPR's The Daily Circuit on Thursday he's still crafting the legislation he'll introduce next year, but adds it will be based largely on recommendations from a task force Gov. Mark Dayton appointed last year to study how best to prevent bullying in Minnesota schools.
That panel, which included Dibble as a member, recommended Minnesota pass a new anti-bullying law to replace the law currently on the books. The law, at just 37 words, is one of the shortest anti-bullying laws in the nation and only requires school districts to enact their own local bullying prevention policies. Beyond that, the law doesn't offer much guidance on what should be in those policies.
The task force says a new law should clearly define what bullying is and also clearly define procedures for how bullying claims are brought forth by students, investigated by the school and reported to the state. The panel recommended staff training and asks lawmakers to find "permanent and ongoing funding mechanisms" to fund bullying prevention efforts in schools.
Dibble also said the law will come with a price tag to pay for training, data reporting and other components of the proposed law. He doesn't have an estimate for how much the bill would cost, but added he's committed to finding the funding.
"I think there's a hidden cost to this (if there's no law)," he said. "We pay in real dollars in inhibited outcomes, academically; there are health implications; and the like. In bullying, we pay one way or we pay another."
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