We just finished up another week at the Capitol and are now on a short break for Easter, which gives me a chance to get back to the district and meet with constituents. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Easter!
Yesterday, the House passed a bill to increase the state’s minimum wage to $9.50 by 2016. The minimum wage will also be increased to inflation starting in 2018 to ensure the value of the minimum wage does not fall over time. The bill, which passed the Senate yesterday, now goes to the Governor to be signed into law.
In our great state, people who work hard shouldn’t be living in poverty. Research has shown that when lower-income people have more money in their pockets, they spend that money in their local communities which will strengthen our economy.
Over 357,000 workers will see a raise when the bill is fully implemented. Of those workers, 45 percent have some college education and 57 percent, or 200,000 are women. The bill is expected to have a significant impact on Minnesota families struggling to make ends meet. Of the workers expected to receive a raise, 62,850 are parents. And 14,200 of those are the sole wage earner in their household.
Most of the people on public assistance programs have jobs and are getting paid the minimum wage. By increasing the minimum wage, these families will have more money in their pockets and can hopefully get off public assistance, saving taxpayer dollars while boosting our economy.
Details of the bill include:
- $9.50 minimum wage for businesses with gross sales over $500,000 in 2016. $8.00 in August 2014, $8.50 in August 2015.
- $7.75 minimum wage for businesses under $500,000 in gross sales in 2016. $6.50 in August 2014, $7.25 in August 2015.
- The $7.75 minimum wage rate would also apply for large businesses in the following circumstances: 90 day training wage for 18 and 19 year olds, all 16 and 17 year olds and employees working under a J1 visa.
- Beginning in 2018, all wages would increase each year on January 1st by inflation measured by the implicit price deflator capped at 2.5%.
- The indexed increase could be suspended for one year by the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry if leading economic indicators indicate the possibility of a substantial downturn in the economy.
We passed a compromise to address the concerns of small businesses. The bill includes a staggered increase in the wage, a lower minimum wage for small businesses, and a training wage. We’re moving in a responsible manner to raise the wage for hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans.
Women’s Economic Security Act
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the Women’s Economic Security Act omnibus bill (HF 2536).
Even as Minnesota’s economy continues to improve, barriers like high costs for childcare and the pay gap between men and women doing similar work continue to put a drag on the economy. The Women’s Economic Security Act removes those kinds of barriers, helping to fuel Minnesota’s positive economic momentum and make sure more Minnesotans share in the benefits of the recovery.
In Minnesota, women earn 80 cents for every dollar a man makes for a similar job. Many women are stuck in traditional ‘women’s fields’ and others have faced workplace discrimination because they’re pregnant or nursing. Addressing these issues is good for Minnesota’s economy. When women have equal opportunities to succeed, it means stronger families, stronger communities, and a brighter economic future for our state.
I’m proud to support this legislation and was pleased to see bipartisan support for the bill when it passed.
Safe and Supportive Schools Act
On Tuesday, we passed the Safe and Supportive Schools Act, which Governor Dayton has signed into law. The bill strengthens the ability of local communities to create their own anti-bullying policies. The bill had the support of more than 120 organizations, including the School Counselors Association, School Board Association, and Association of School Administrators.
Minnesota had one of the weakest anti-bullying laws in the country and this legislation will strengthen and streamline anti-bullying policies statewide. The bill provides a comprehensive framework to protect all students from abusive behavior, supports staff in their efforts to prohibit bullying, and will support improved student achievement by providing a safe school environment.
Rather than worrying about being bullied, students should be spending their days learning, making friends, and thinking about their futures.
While I believe our local schools do a great job, we can’t pretend bullying isn’t an issue for some students. As a special education teacher, I have seen it firsthand: the student with a learning disability who’s made fun of because he doesn’t understand an assignment; the student with a physical disability who’s teased because she’s different. It happens every day in our schools — and is always underreported — and many of us can remember it when we were in school.
Bullying can also lead to increased student absences, suspensions, and students dropping out — which ends up costing our state more both in the short-term and the long-term. In some tragic cases, bullying has led to students committing suicide.
I’m a pro-life legislator and I consider this to be a pro-life bill. If we can save just one student’s life through this bill, it’s absolutely worth it.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Minnesota House of Representatives.
All the best,