Monday, July 07, 2008

It's After the 4th of July, so Let's Start Blogging. I've been away for about a month and it's high time I get back to my work of keeping you informed. There are numerous meetings going on in the aftermath of the 2008 legislative session and we are just a week away from filings closing for the 2008 congressional and legislative races in Minnesota. In other words, there is going to be plenty of news to report.

This morning, I attended a meeting with several transportation directors, Grace Schwab from the Minnesota School Boards Association, Captain Ken Urquhart from the Commercial Vehicles Division of the Minnesota State Highway Patrol, and Senator Rick Olseen (DFL-Harris). As many of you recall, Senator Olseen authored the legislation that set in place new requirements for the training and background checks of drivers of Type III vehicles.

The problem being experienced in the interpretation of this legislation centers on the word "normal." The legislation exempts from drug and alcohol testing and an annual physical those drivers for whom transporting of students is not considered part of their "normal" duties. As the bill was being passed, the seemingly agreed upon interpretation was that only drivers--mainly teachers and coaches--for whom the transportation of students was not explicitly spelled out in their contract would not be subject to these requirements. However, upon implementation of the bill, the Department of Public Safety has come to the belief that "normal" should include drivers for those activities where transportation of students is implicit in the activity, such as a debate coach driving students to three or four debate meets or a golf coach driving kids to the local golf course during the golf season.

With the school year just around the bend (yes, it's a mere 8 weeks away), it is hoped that an agreement on a working definition for this legislation can be reached so school districts are not taken by surprise after they have hired drivers. I will keep you clued in as work on this important subject goes forward.

Memberships Coming In. Thanks to all of you who are renewing your memberships early. It's always great to see the checks come rolling in and especially gratifying in a year when many of you are having to make difficult cuts. Feel free to have me out to your board if you would like further information on some of the exciting things we'll be pursuing in the year ahead.

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