Key House committee rejects universal, all-day preschool bill

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Hank Long, Waseca County News
February 24, 2015

A bill that would give school districts the opportunity to offer all-day preschool to 4-year-olds stalled Tuesday in the House Education Innovation Policy Committee.

Rep. Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul) began her push for universal, voluntary pre-kindergarten in the public schools during the 2014 legislative session, saying Minnesotans are frustrated with the Legislature’s delay in fully investing in early learning opportunities for all children. This year, the proposal came forth in the form of HF46.

It would allow eligibility for children who are 4 years old on Sept. 1 and not enrolled in kindergarten to participate in a universal, all-day preschool program run by public schools.

After several hours of testimony on the bill, including an initial hearing last week, the committee voted 11-8 along party lines to reject the bill.

A companion, SF6, sponsored by Sen. John Hoffman (DFL-Champlin), was tabled Jan. 21 by the Senate E-12 Budget Division.

Committee Chair Rep. Sondra Erickson (R-Princeton) reminded Murphy and committee members that HF844 – which contains Gov. Mark Dayton’s K-12 education budget proposal in bill form – includes a version of universal, voluntary preschool similar to Murphy’s bill and that it will receive continued discussion in the coming weeks…