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State Representative Sandra Masin

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100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
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For more information contact: Tim Obrien

Posted: Jul 15 2014 3:13PM
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Rep. Sandra Masin - Legislative Report - July 15, 2014


Friends,

On July 1, one of the landmark pieces of legislation from the 2013-14 legislative session – the Women’s Economic Security Act – became law.

This package of laws marks a milestone in closing the gender pay gap, strengthening workplace protections and flexibility for pregnant mothers and expanding employment opportunities for women in high-wage, high-demand professions.

WESA will:

  • Allow mothers to stay in the workforce by expanding the Minnesota Parental Leave Act from 6 to 12 weeks, allow use of leave under the Parental Leave Act for pregnancy-related needs and require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant and nursing employees.
  • Expand access to high-quality, affordable childcare by removing the $5,000 cap on early learning scholarships.
  • Decrease the gender pay gap by expanding support for employers, workforce organizations  and others to recruit, prepare, place and retain women in high-wage, high-demand nontraditional occupations and apprenticeships – especially low income and older women.
  • Support the development of high economic impact women-owned businesses in nontraditional industries.
  • Reduce the gender pay gap through increased enforcement of equal pay laws for state contractors and by allowing employees to discuss pay inequities. I authored this provision.
  • Decrease the gender pay gap by providing equal employment opportunities for family caregivers and reducing the “motherhood penalty.”
  • Address economic consequences of domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault by expanding unemployment insurance eligibility currently available to victims of domestic violence to include victims of stalking and sexual assault and allowing employees to use existing earned sick leave to deal with sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking.
  • Enhance retirement security by considering a state retirement savings plan for those without an employer-provided option.

For too long we’ve allowed women to be treated as second-class citizens in the workplace. We needed to address this disparity. Fairness demanded it. WESA will do that by ensuring women receive equal pay for equal work and aren’t punished in the workplace because of their gender or for being mothers. This legislation helps level the playing field.

WESA was part of a larger commitment to creating good paying, high quality employment opportunities. There are still folks looking for work, there are still families getting by with a little less, and there are still communities looking for ways to bring new jobs to main street. 

That’s why, over the last two years, the Legislature has made bold investments in job creation initiatives across Minnesota. In addition to spending more than $100 million in General Fund dollars specifically on job creation efforts in last year’s budget, we cut business taxes by $350 million and made a critical down payment on statewide broadband internet expansion. We passed a package of Capitol Investment bills that will provide funding for local infrastructure projects in communities across the state.

Investing in Job Creation

The 2013 Jobs Bill appropriated $54 million for the Minnesota Investment Fund and the Job Creation Fund, which will be used to provide financial incentives to encourage out-of-state companies to set up shop in MN and for existing businesses to bring in new employees.

Cutting Business Taxes

Last year, the Legislature enacted the largest business tax cut in State history, reducing taxes by $350 million for Minnesota businesses by lowering Unemployment Insurance payments.

Investing in Job Training

We invested in customized job training and workforce development programs like FastTRAC and Twin Cities Rise. These programs are set up to give workers the training they need to get back to work. Set up through partnerships with local MnSCU campuses and organizations, these training programs can be customized to meet the needs of the businesses in their area.

Investing in our Infrastructure

A package of Capitol Investment bills that is estimated to create more than 30,000 jobs statewide by putting people to work repairing roads, bridges, schools, and local infrastructure in communities across Minnesota.

Investing in Greater Minnesota

  • $20 million for a border-to-border grant fund to for the expansion of Broadband Internet access in Greater Minnesota. This will help put families, businesses, and schools in rural areas on equal footing with communities in the metro.
  • $475,000 to each of the six Initiative Foundations located in Greater Minnesota.  This funding is designated for the lending programs that each of the Initiative Foundations operates to help small businesses.
  • $500,000 to the network of Small Business Development Centers (SBDC’s) operating throughout MN.  The SBDC’s provide expert advice and consulting services designed to get small businesses up-and-running.
  • $2.2 million for grants to local units of government in Greater MN for public infrastructure projects that promote economic development, with an additional $4 million for this program in the Bonding Bill.

We know the investments in Broadband Internet expansion will serve as a down payment for further funding down the road. And we know that we can do even more to tailor our 2 and 4 year degree programs to match the needs of 21st century businesses.

But these investments will make a significant impact on communities across Minnesota. Many of the infrastructure projects included in the general fund portion of the bonding bill may be able to break ground this year. The grants and loans available through the jobs creation funds at DEED have already helped create new jobs.

After years of slashing budgets, we took a more balanced approach this session. We made investments in proven job creation programs that can help local businesses set up shop and expand their operations.

If you have any questions about the investments we made over the last two years, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I look forward to talking with you this summer and fall.

Sincerely,

Sandy

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