Entire Senate DFL Caucus Signs on to Support Students of All Faiths

Dear Majority Leader Gazelka, Speaker Hortman, and Minority Leader Daudt,

Thank you for your work to ensure that all Minnesotans voices and perspectives are heard in our state legislature. As we work for the good of all Minnesotans, we write to strongly encourage you to support legislation that we will be introducing alongside Representative Hodan Hassan. This bill makes small changes to ensure that all Minnesotans have full access to the religious freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Minnesota. 

Minnesota’s students and their families reflect the continuously growing diversity of faith traditions and backgrounds that make up our state. Our laws show respect for those traditions in ensuring that school districts provide reasonable accommodations to students desiring to be excused from a curricular activity for a religious observance. 

However, that policy will only be effective when parents and guardians are aware of this opportunity and how to work with educators to ensure that students can have full access to both a high quality education and to practicing their religion. SF966/HF909 provides a solution, making the simple requirement that school boards provide annual notice to parents of the school district’s policy relating to a student’s absence from school for religious observance. 

In addition to the requirement of annual notice on the school district’s policy for absences for religious observance, we support giving school districts the option of considering their school community’s religious observance when adopting an annual school calendar. This flexibility does not provide a mandate to schools, but rather recognizes that school districts know their communities best and may be able to avoid absences from large numbers of students by making small adjustments to their school calendar. 

We ask for your support for SF966/HF909, and to recognize the impact that these small changes can have for all Minnesotans can have the opportunity to practice their faith tradition. Minnesota is at its best when our people are secure in their employment, when communities and school boards work together as partners, and when every citizen has the ability to freely exercise their religion.  

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Omar Fateh represents Senate District 62, which covers the community of South Minneapolis.

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Senator Susan Kent
Susan Kent represents District 53 in the eastern Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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Senator Karla Bigham
Karla Bigham represents District 54 in the southeast Twin Cities metro, including parts of Dakota and Washington counties.

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Senator Jim Carlson
Jim Carlson represents District 51, which includes Eagan and areas of Burnsville.

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Senator Bobby Joe Champion
Bobby Joe Champion represents District 59, which includes portions of downtown and north Minneapolis in Hennepin County. He is also an attorney.

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Senator Greg Clausen
Greg Clausen lives in Apple Valley and represents District 57 in the southern Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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Steve Cwodzinski represents District 48 in the southwest Twin Cities metro.

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Senator Scott Dibble
Scott Dibble represents District 61, which includes portions of the city of Minneapolis in Hennepin County.

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Senator Kari Dziedzic
Kari Dziedzic represents District 60, which includes Seward, Cedar Riverside, Southeast and Northeast Minneapolis.

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Senator Chris Eaton
Chris Eaton represents District 40, which includes the cities of Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park in Hennepin County in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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Senator Kent Eken
Kent Eken represents District 4, which includes portions of Becker, Clay, and Norman counties in the northwestern part of the state.

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Senator Franzen
Melisa Franzen represents District 49 in the southwest Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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Senator Nick Frentz
Nick Frentz represents Senate District 19, which includes portions of Blue Earth, Le Sueur, and Nicollet counties in the south central part of the state.

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Senator Foung Hawj
Foung Hawj represents District 67, which includes the east side of Saint Paul in Ramsey County in the central Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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Senator John Hoffman
John Hoffman represents District 36, which includes portions of Anoka and Hennepin County.

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Senator Jason Isaacson
Jason Isaacson represents Senate District 42 which includes Arden Hills, Gem Lake, Little Canada, Mounds View, Shoreview, Vadnais Heights, and parts of Roseville, Spring Lake Park, and Blaine.

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Ann Johnson Stewart represents Senate District 44, which covers the communities of Plymouth, Minnetonka, and Woodland.

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Matt Klein represents Senate District 52 which includes the area spanning parts of Eagan, Inver Grove Heights, Lilydale, the city of Mendota, Mendota Heights, South St. Paul, Sunfish Lake, and West St. Paul.

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Mary K. Kunesh represents Senate District 41, which covers the communities of St. Anthony Village, New Brighton, Hilltop, Columbia Heights, Fridley, and a portion of Spring Lake Park.

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Senator Ron Latz
Ron Latz represents District 46, which includes portions of Hennepin County in the western Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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Senator John Marty
John Marty represents Roseville, Lauderdale, Falcon Heights and northern St. Paul.

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Jen McEwen represents Senate District 7, which covers the community of Duluth.

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Erin Murphy represents Senate District 64, which includes portions of the Saint Paul community.

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Jerry Newton is a state senator who represents Blaine, Coon Rapids, and Spring Lake Park. He is the Ranking Member of the Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy Committee and a member of the following committees: Family Care and Aging; and Higher Education Finance and Policy. Sen. Newton is also a member of the Legislative Permanent School Fund Commission and the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission. A high-resolution photo of Sen. Newton is available for download here.

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Senator Sandy Pappas
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Lindsey Port represents Senate District 56, which covers the communities of Burnsville, Savage, and the northwest part of Lakeville.

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Aric Putnam represents Senate District 14, which covers the communities of St. Cloud, Waite Park, St. Augusta, Haven, and Minden Townships.

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Senator Ann Rest
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Senator Patricia Torres Ray
Patricia Torres Ray represents District 63, which includes portions of southeastern Minneapolis and eastern Richfield in Hennepin County in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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Senator Chuck Wiger
Chuck Wiger represents District 43, which includes portions of Ramsey and Washington counties in the northeastern Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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Senator Melissa Wiklund
Melissa Wiklund represents District 50, which includes portions of Bloomington and Richfield in the southern Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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