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Walz signs bills eliminating prekindergarten suspensions, expanding teacher mental health training

The Legislature failed to pass major bills on police reform and infrastructure before adjourning early Saturday.

The Minnesota Legislature may have left several issues on the table when it adjourned, but six bills did make it to Gov. Tim Walz’s desk for him to sign Tuesday.

Among the bills signed into law is a provision that will increase reimbursements for Minnesota’s Child Care Assistance Program to comply with federal standards.

Another bill will eliminate suspensions for prekindergarten children.

“By eliminating prekindergarten suspensions and increasing child care assistance for child care providers across the state, we are putting Minnesota families first and ensuring support for low-income families, families of color, and Black and Indigenous families,” said Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan in a statement.

Middle school students in Minnesota will also be required to receive vaping prevention education. Annual Mental health training is now also mandatory for all teachers.

Certain human services program waivers will also be permitted to extend beyond Walz’s peacetime emergency. These program waivers include expanded telemedicine access and changes to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“I’m proud to sign this bipartisan legislation to make our schools a safe, welcoming and supportive environment for all Minnesota students and bring child care relief to working families across the state,” Walz said in a statement.

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Lawmakers failed to pass police reform measures sparked by the death of George Floyd before the end of the legislative session early Saturday. DFL lawmakers in the House criticized the Senate Republican proposal for police reform, claiming it didn’t go far enough.

A statewide infrastructure package, or bonding bill, also failed to pass as Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka moved to end the special session by a Friday deadline he had set. 

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