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The last day of the legislative session, I was over at the capitol watching a couple of bills. A bill that came up, which I didn’t know much about, was the anti-bullying bill. It’s intent was to add sexual orientation and physical appearance to the sorts of bullying not allowed in schools. Listening to the debate, it seemed to center more upon whether it was needed beyond existing law more than anything else.

Unfortunately, Governor Pawlenty vetoed it. He did say in his veto letter that he would direct Department of Education Alice Seagren to review the existing anti-bullying policy and to contact school districts to ensure they are meeting the requirements of the current law, which was implemented in 2005.

Hopefully, the debate and the review will make people more aware. Recent numbers from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs suggest that something needs to change. In Minnesota, there were 73 cases of hate crimes committed in 2008, a 48-percent increase. There was a 185-percent increase in the number of incidents involving violence, and a 20-percent increase in the number of incidents involving more than one assailant. This could in part be due to better reporting, but it needs to be revisited with the next session.

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