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For more information contact: Susie Merthan 651-296-2955
Posted: Mar 2 2015 4:24PM
Legislative Update - March 2, 2015
Recently, legislators proposed the Working Parents Act, a legislative proposal aimed at providing greater opportunity and economic security for Minnesotans. This proposal is made up of five bills that are designed to address many concerns facing parents in the modern workplace.
Paid Family Leave: This Only 13% of Minnesotans have access to paid family leave. Due to this limitation many Minnesotans have to choose between work and their loved ones. This bill would create an insurance program to provide all Minnesota employees with a percentage of their wages for up to 6 weeks so they can afford to take time off to care for a new child, an elder or seriously-ill family member, or deal with pregnancy-related health concerns.
Putting a Stop to Wage Theft: Wage theft happens when workers are denied overtime pay and/ or refused pay for hours worked, or are paid less than the minimum wage. This bill is meant to cut down wage theft by increasing penalties for wage theft, extending the statute of limitations on all wage theft to 6 years, and keeping workers from employer retaliation.
Earned Sick and Safe Time: Over a million working Minnesotans don’t have access to paid sick time. This bill would give Minnesota workers access to earned sick and safe time to care for themselves, a sick child, or a loved one, or to seek services due to domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault.
Scheduling Fairness and Flexibility: Many Minnesota workers don’t have a steady work schedule which can affect economic security and stability for their families. The bill would help bring more predictability in scheduling for workers, limit last-minute or on-call shifts, and protect workers from employer retaliation.
Tip Fairness for Servers: Several Minnesota restaurants in recent years have deducted the cost of credit and debit card transaction fees from servers’ tips. The Working Parents Act would prohibit businesses from deducting credit card processing fees from tips that are earned by servers.
House File 2
HF 2, a bill that would change the way the state licenses and retains teachers, is moving through the House. Currently, Minnesota schools have a policy of Last In First Out (LIFO). This policy states that if layoffs must occur due to financial limitations, lack of pupils, or merging of classes caused by consolidation of districts, then districts are instructed to conduct teacher layoffs based on seniority.
Recently, the legislature enacted new teacher evaluation systems to improve teacher performance and ensure that our kids have access to the most effective teachers available. These systems, in addition to the existing capacity districts have to place teachers on URL, are the best way to address teacher effectiveness. Laying off teachers is not the silver bullet to solve our education issues, and we already have systems in place to increase teacher effectiveness.
The bill also changes teacher licensure by allowing “community experts” to teach in classrooms around the state with little to no training. Proponents of HF 2 argue that teacher effectiveness is the main goal of the bill, but changes made to teacher licensure could arguably reduce the quality of teachers in our classrooms. Allowing districts to hire a “community expert” to teach without oversight from the Board of Teaching, allowing career and tech instructors to teach without a license, and easing the issuing of licenses to out-of-state candidates regardless of what the standards were in their issuing state, all have the consequence of putting in the classroom a teacher who has not met the high standards Minnesota already has in place.
Roll With Us Challenge
I am participating in the Roll With Us Challenge March 1-7th to help to showcase Minnesota’s public transportation services. For many Minnesotans who cannot, or choose not to drive, relying on public transportation can present big challenges. In the Twin Cities metro area, only 10% of jobs are conveniently accessible by public transportation (under 1 hour commute), placing us behind Denver, Seattle, Portland, and Milwaukee. It is vital we have a transit system that is convenient and serves our community well. Follow me on social media as I take public transit during the Roll With Us Challenge!
Please contact me anytime with comments, concerns or questions you may have. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-7807 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org