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Pre-Labor Day school start date fails

ST. PAUL -- Concerns about Minnesota's economy and the tourism industry led lawmakers to reject a proposal allowing public schools to start before Labor Day.

Rep. Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester, proposed allowing school districts to begin their academic year anytime before Labor Day, so long as classes are not held on the Thursday and Friday before the Labor Day weekend.

"The proposal is not just about 'ma and pa resorts,'" said Rep. John Persell, DFL-Bemidji. "This is very much about our economy and this is not the time to be messing with the economy."

Rep. Pat Garofalo, whose legislative district is in the southern Twin Cities metro, said Minnesota resorts rely on tourists from the Twin Cities.

"People up north need our citizens to visit them," he said.

Garofalo said a Bemidji resort owner convinced him to change his mind to support a post-Labor Day start.

House members rejected Norton's amendment to an education spending bill on a 71-61 vote.

Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Daily Globe.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.