Sen. Jerry Newton Update: March 24, 2017

Real ID

The Real ID issue is becoming increasingly more frustrating.  A clean Real ID bill has not been brought forward for a vote.  Instead, we have been given the choice to vote for a Real ID card that is linked to (or against) a drivers’ license for undocumented residents.  Additionally, the House version of the bill has dealt with other issues involving guns. These are important matters, but all I want to see is a Real ID bill that is not unnecessarily complicated with other matters;  they can be dealt with in separate legislation.  We have been promised that Senate leadership will be bringing forward a new or revised Real ID bill in the near future, but I have no indication of when that will be or how the legislation will be worded – or potentially further complicated.

Last Friday I visited the Anoka County License Bureau in Blaine just North of 109th Avenue.  They gave me the forms to secure a passport ID in conjunction with renewing my passport.  That ID will provide me with everything the federal government mandates on a Real ID card.  They also showed me the Enhanced Drivers License, which for $15 extra accomplishes the same thing.  I would suggest this option as it will work no matter what happens with the Real ID bill, and it gets you on domestic flights. As a bonus, you can use it to get into Canada and Mexico by land, and certain Caribbean countries by sea.

Youth Intervention Programs Association

Recently, I had the privilege to visit with four young women who shared their painful stories with a small group of legislators and at-risk youth. These women were non-violent inmates, currently serving sentences at the Shakopee Women’s Prison. They spoke about violence and abuse that happened to them when they were still young girls, and the many wrong turns that led to their being locked up. 

These stories were told to inform, to heal – and to help bring awareness to the importance of the choices adolescents make. The women were speaking to a group of young people taking part in the Youth Intervention Programs Association or YIPA. The group works with at-risk youth before they make dangerous decisions that could lead them down the wrong path. 

The stories these women shared – of simply trying to forget the abuses that happened to them, were heartbreaking. And the clear need for someone – any adult to intervene and offer a shoulder to cry on was so evident, it reminded me that Minnesota’s 48th ranking for our student-to-counselor ratio is creating a notable absence in our schools. 

The work YIPA is doing is absolutely essential. Just like the work of school counselors – being available to notice students’ problems, and being adept at seeing the warning signs students are leaving behind. Teachers and school counselors are often the first to notice missed homework, mood changes or bullying – and they can help solve a small problem – so it doesn’t balloon into a life-altering mistake. 

I’ve talked about the need for more school counselors before, because the overwhelming evidence of their need is staggering. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five children in the U.S. shows signs or symptoms of a mental health disorder. Our kids are in crisis, and school counselors are on the front line. The Minnesota legislature can help by allocating money to schools to hire additional staff. It’s a clear need, and one our children can’t keep going without.   

New Appointments

I was very pleased to recently be named the Vice Chairman of the Legislative Permanent School Fund Commission (LPSFC).  Working with the Department of Natural Resources on managing our state’s school trust lands is something I am eager to participate in.  LPSFC Website

Also, I was honored to learn this week that I was appointed to the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission (MASC).  I am looking forward to working with Executive Director, Todd Johnson, and all the other great staff at the National Sports Center in Blaine. MASC Website

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Thank you and have a great weekend,

Jerry Newton
State Senator
District 37