Do elections really matter?

In a column in the Sunday Star Trib, Will Labovitch does an excellent job of describing how important it is to vote.  He compares the election results in Minnesota to Wisconsin.

The stats show that Minnesota is in much better shape than Wisconsin.  We know there were some really close races, so the outcomes could easily been different.  His comments show that every vote does matter.

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Progress, past and pending for women

Lori Sturdevant wrote a very interesting column in Sunday’s Star Tribune,  Progress, past and pending for women,  about the discussion of the Women’s Economic Security Act on the floor of the Minnesota House of Representatives.  She  concentrated on the response of Representative Shannon Savick to a question posed by Representative Sondra Erickson.  Representative Erickson was trying to make an argument that achievements in the work force were made strictly by the courage and efforts of women alone, that government had nothing to do with their success and expected Representative Savick to agree.  Representative Savick replied that government had a lot to do with her success, because legislation made it illegal to specify certain jobs were for men and other jobs for women.  There was a time when women could not apply for certain jobs and when girls were not allowed to take certain classes in school.  For some reason, Representative Erickson and others chose to forget that little detail, among others. A lot of progress has been made, but we are not there yet.

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Minimum Wage (HF 7574) -Concur

The debate has now started on the Minimum Wage bill.  The House has to decide whether to concur with the bill that was returned from the Senate.  The House had passed their bill last year and the legislation has been worked on in a Conference Committee since.

After many hours of comments, Representative Ryan Winkler, the bill’s author,  made an outstanding closing speech on behalf of the bill before the vote. Definitely worth a listen!

The bill passed 71-60.

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Women’s Economic Security Act on House Floor

There was a press conference on the Capitol steps this morning to talk about the bill.

HF 2536 is now being heard in the House Chamber.

HF 2536 passed 106-24.

 

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Safe and Supportive Schools Act

We are discussing HF 826 and Representative Jim Davnie is the lead author.  The main provision of the bill is that school districts and charter schools adopt locally-created or a state model policy to prevent school bullying, cyber-bullying and intimidation, and promote remedial responses.

The House had passed this bill last year.  The Senate amended the bill with a new version and a few amendments and passed the bill to the House with a 36-31 vote.  The action today is whether to concur.   So far, the discussion has gone on for about six hours.

It is now 9:55 P.M. and we have been on this for nine hours.

The vote was taken at 12:19 A.M. and the bill was repassed 69-63.

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Preserving The Minnesota State Capitol

The Minnesota State Capitol is one of Minnesota’s important assets.  In spite of that,  we have let this outstanding building deteriorate for years.  Anyone who has been in this building in the last few decades is probably aware of some of the crumbling walls and other details that need to be addressed.  At what point do we take action to prevent this very special building from deteriorating, to take action to preserve it for the next generation?  We now have a Governor and legislators who are willing to take on this task and it is important that they receive your support.

In fact, the same thing could be said for the deterioration of our roads, bridges and other  infrastructure.  It is time for us to step up and be responsible stewards.  It is time for us to consider the legacy we inheirited  and the legacy we will leave.  The editorial in today’s Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com/opinion/editorials/253831931.html ,
does a good job of sorting through the importance of the bonding bill and the importance of taking care of Minnesota’s assets

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Wage disclosure protection moves through the House

WESALast week, the House Jobs and Economic Development Finance and Policy Committee approved a bill authored by State Representative Sandra Masin (DFL – Eagan). The bill, included in the Women’s Economic Security Act, was approved on a voice vote and re-referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.

According to a new report by the University of Minnesota Humphrey School’s Center on Women & Public Policy, families headed by women are four times more likely to be living in poverty and that women earn a median pay of 80 percent of what men earn.

“These bills are designed to make sure all workers have equal rights and opportunities in the work place,” said Rep. Masin. “More and more households are depending on women to support them financially, and now is the time to address the barriers that are still in place for those women.”

Rep. Masin’s bill would bar any discrimination or retaliation against an employee who talks about salaries and wages with fellow employees.

During the committee hearing, Leah Olm shared the story of a friend who found out she was earning less at her job than a male in the same position. Olm said her friend’s boss threatened to fire her for asking male coworkers how much money they earned, which is how she found out about the pay gap in the first place. “This package would clear the way for a more equal playing field,” said Olm.

The Women’s Economic Security Act builds on Minnesota’s positive economic momentum by ensuring equal opportunities for women to succeed in the workplace and provide for their families. Members of the public, small business owners, and religious organizations testified in support of the bill at today’s hearing.

Kathryn Mollen, Policy and Outreach Coordinator for the Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC) said her organization wants to ensure that women have access to a workplace that supports family economic security and motherhood.

“This act is an important step towards those goals,” said Mollen.

The other components of the legislation heard during last week’s committee hearing were:

  • Rep. Yvonne Selcer: Author of HF 2243 (Women entrepreneurs business development grant program created, and money appropriated).
  • Rep. Barb Yarusso: Author of HF 2259 (Nursing mothers; unfair employment practices clarified).
  • Rep. Will Morgan: Author of HF 2291 (Women’s economic self-sufficiency promoted; gender segregation in the workforce reduced; gender pay gap reduced through the participation of women in high-wage, high-demand, nontraditional occupations; women and nontraditional jobs grant program established; and money appropriated).
  • Rep. Paul Rosenthal: Author of HF 2366 (Unemployment benefits eligibility modified when applicant is a victim of sexual assault or stalking).
  • Rep. Phyllis Kahn: Author of HF 2371 (Pregnancy and parenting leave provided, and pregnancy accommodations required).
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Endorsed by 51A Convention Today

Senate District 51 held its convention today.  It was a day filled with voting for the new Senate District 51 Officers, Senate District Central Committee Members and Alternates, and State Convention Delegates and Alternates.  I am extremely proud and pleased to say that I received the endorsement of the 51A delegates to be their candidate for the 51A position.  The 51B delegates endorsed Laurie Halverson for the 51B race.

We heard from many of the candidates running for state offices and voted on resolutions, too. 

A very busy and a very exciting day.  Signs of a democracy in action.

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House is hearing tax bill passed by Senate earlier today

The Minnesota House of Representatives is now voting on HF 1777, a tax bill  that includes federal tax conformity, it will provide relief for working class families and businesses.    It just passed 126-2.

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Burnsville Chamber Pre-Legislative Forum 2014

I participated in the Burnsville Chamber’s Pre-Legislative Forum on Thursday, Feb. 20. Representative Mogan, Representative Myra, Senator Carlson, and Senator Hall were also on the panel.

The first question was on federal tax conformity. Last year, the legislature passed HF6 which conformed Minnesota’s taxes to most federal taxes for tax year 2012-for those paid by April 15, 2013. The DFL House Omnibus Tax Bill did a provision to address federal conformity for future years, but that did not have Senate approval and was not in the final tax bill. This year, House Tax Chair Ann Lenczewski has introduced HF 2106 that conforms the state’s income tax to federal taxes and provides tax relief to middle-class taxpayers and businesses.

The bonding bill received attention as well. The Burnsville Chamber had supported the bonding bill last year. The bonding bill covers projects for buildings, roads, bridges, and other projects that have regional or statewide importance. The Governor’s bonding proposal invests an additional $126.3 million to finally complete state Capitol restoration process. The Capitol is one of Minnesota’s most important assets and the need for repair has been obvious for decades. I am advocating for a bonding proposal for a necessary project to improve the Red Line BRT. Interest rates are still fairly low, so this is a very good time to have a large bonding bill. It enhances assets for Minnesota and it means JOBS.

There was also spirited discussion on a minimum wage bill and some of the business-to-business taxes.

 

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