School board deep dives continued—Minnesota’s largest school district

Welcome to the Wednesday, October 11, 2023, Brew. 

By: Juan Garcia de Paredes

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Previewing the Anoka-Hennepin County school board races in Minnesota
  2. Majority of Americans could live in a state with legal marijuana if Ohio voters approve Issue 2
  3. Federal Register weekly update: More than 500 significant rules issued so far in 2023

Previewing the Anoka-Hennepin County school board races in Minnesota

Thousands of school board members will be elected in races across the country on Nov. 7. Over the next few weeks, we’re bringing you in-depth coverage of the races we’ve identified as battlegrounds. 

Earlier this week, we previewed the Prince William County school board in Virginia, one of the seven states in which we are covering all school board elections on Nov. 7. ICYMI, previous races featured in this series include the Douglas County School District, just south of Denver, Colorado, and the Richland School District in Benton County, Washington. Today, we’ll take a look at the Anoka-Hennepin School District, the largest school district in Minnesota. 

First, some background about the district: 

  • The Anoka-Hennepin School District is located in both Anoka and Hennepin counties, which includes Minneapolis. 
  • The school board consists of six members elected by district to four-year terms.
  • Elections are nonpartisan and take place on a staggered basis in November of odd-numbered years.
  • The district has 38,230 students during the 2021-2022 school year, making it the largest district by enrollment in Minnesota and the 154th largest in the U.S.

Seven candidates are running in three districts this year. Classroom safety, parental rights, and the academic achievement gap are among the issues coming up in the elections. 

Anoka-Hennepin Education Minnesota, the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, and the SEIU Minnesota State Council endorsed Erin Heers-McCardle (District 1), Susan Witt (District 2), and Michelle Langenfeld (District 5). 

The Senate District 35 Republican Party (which overlaps with the school district) and the nonprofit Anoka-Hennepin Parents Alliance—which describes itself as promoting academic excellence, school safety, and “parental rights on political, religious, and moral issues”—endorsed Linda Hoekman (District 1), Zach Arco (District 2), and Scott Simmons (District 5). 

Here’s a summary of what the candidates are saying: 

  • Incumbent Erin Heers-McArdle and Linda Hoekman are running in District 1. Heers-McArdle, a fine arts jeweler first elected in 2019, said she was running because she wanted to give “students, teachers, and staff the tools, resources, and support necessary to maintain a safe, inclusive environment that is welcoming to all.” Hoekman, a Champlin Park High School teacher, said she was “committed to restoring excellence, freedom, and fairness to our schools by working with parents to ensure our children are protected from violence and politicized instruction.”
  • Zach Arco and Susan Witt are running in District 2. Arco said that, as a mechanical engineer, he had “a mind for diagnosing and solving problems, which is just what Anoka-Hennepin needs.” Witt is a retired elementary school teacher who said she is running because the district needed “to lead with a “student first” mentality and strive to create an environment where our students feel safe, welcome, and supported.”
  • Michelle Langenfeld, Scott Simmons, and Cyrus Wilson are running in District 5. Lengenfield is a former teacher, dean, and principal. She said every child in the school system deserved “equitable access to high-quality learning experiences; provided by exceptional educators in safe, caring, and supportive learning environments.” Simmons, an attorney and substitute teacher, said he was running because “the shortcomings of the system are real and have persisted for too long: failing test scores, an unacceptable achievement gap, unsafe classrooms, [and] teacher retention challenges. Wilson, an IT manager, said his “is driven by a forward-thinking vision for education, a deep commitment to our community’s growth, and an unwavering dedication to ensuring the success of each and every student.”

Click below to read more about this election, and make sure to be on the lookout for more in-depth coverage of select school board elections in the coming weeks!

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Majority of Americans could live in a state with legal marijuana if Ohio voters approve Issue 2

Ohio voters will decide on an initiative to legalize marijuana for adult use on Nov. 7. Ohio Issue 2 would legalize the use, possession, cultivation, and sale of recreational marijuana for adults 21 years of age and older. We wrote about this measure in our Aug. 22 edition

Adults would be able to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and up to 15 grams of marijuana concentrates and be able to grow six marijuana plants at home or up to 12 plants per household. A 10% tax on marijuana sales would also be established, with the revenue going to a cannabis social equity and jobs program.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol sponsored the initiative, which has raised $4.62 million. Protect Ohio Workers and Families is leading the opposition to Issue 2. The committee has yet to file campaign finance reports.

If Issue 2 is approved, Ohio would be the 24th state to legalize recreational marijuana. Based on U.S. Census data, nearly 49.07% of Americans currently live in states where marijuana has been legalized. Adoption of legalized marijuana in Ohio would push this figure to 52.56%, meaning that a majority of U.S. residents would then be living in states with access to legal, adult-use marijuana.

In 12 states and D.C., ballot initiatives were used to legalize marijuana. In two states, the legislature referred a measure to the ballot for voter approval. Nine states have passed legalization legislation.

In 2022, Maryland and Missouri approved marijuana legalization measures, while Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota rejected similar proposals. The most recent vote on a ballot measure that would have legalized marijuana took place in Oklahoma on March 7. Voters defeated Oklahoma State Question 820 61% to 38%.

Medical marijuana was legalized in Ohio in 2016. Ohio voters previously defeated Issue 3, a marijuana legalization initiative that was on the ballot in 2015. Issue 3 would have legalized recreational marijuana and authorized 10 facilities with exclusive commercial rights to grow marijuana.

On Nov. 7, Ohio voters will also decide on an amendment to provide a state constitutional right to “make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions,” including decisions about abortion.

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Federal Register weekly update: More than 500 significant rules issued so far in 2023

Between Oct. 2 and Oct. 6, 2,256 pages were added to the Federal Register for a year-to-date total of 69,872 pages.

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity, accounting for both regulatory and deregulatory actions.

President Joe Biden’s (D) administration has added an average of 1,747 pages to the Federal Register each week this year. The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 745 documents:

  1. 593 notices
  2. 13 presidential documents
  3. 58 proposed rules
  4. 81 final rules

Certain rules are classified as significant, meaning they could have large effects on the economy, environment, public health, or state/local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules. 

Ten of this week’s proposed rules and seven final rules were deemed significant. Some of those significant additions include: 

  • Amending the Schedule of Fees for Consular Services from the State Department
  • Amending energy conservation standards for commercial water heating equipment from the Energy Department

Through Oct. 6 of this year, the Biden administration has issued 284 significant proposed rules, 212 significant final rules, and nine significant notices.

Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic coverage that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The coverage area also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.

Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2021. For more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, and 2017, click the link below.

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