For more information contact: Leah Patton 651-296-9895
Yesterday evening, the House debated and passed the Uniform Employment Standards Act. Here is an overview of the legislation, as well as some updates on the February economic forecast, the Sherco Power Plant bill, Real ID, and Sunday Sales legislation.
Uniform Employment Standards Act
This bill, HF600, clarifies in statute that only the state government is responsible for mandating minimum wage levels and employment standards, not local governments. This has been the practice since Minnesota first became a state 160 years ago. However, a recent trend in local authorities (cities, towns, and counties) setting additional minimum wage and employment benefit requirements has made this clarification necessary.
The confusing patchwork of mandates created when local governments set employment standards makes it very difficult for our small business community to expand into other areas of the state or operate in the Metro.
Private businesses can, and are, able to negotiate wages and benefits with their employees that are sustainable for the business and fair for workers. There is no need for additional level of government mandates to step in and complicate the employer/employee relationship. With Minnesota’s unemployment rate at 3.9%- lower than the national average of 4.7% - businesses are competing with to attract and retain qualified employees by providing great wages and benefits packages. Keeping employment standards uniform across Minnesota allows for small business expansion into other areas of the state, and more economic growth overall.
Minimum wage and employment benefits requirements have a huge impact on the lives of Minnesotans, and should be determined by a level of government that respects their importance.
I will keep you informed as this issue is debated by the Senate.
February Economic Forecast
On Tuesday, the Office of Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) released the February economic forecast, which determines what fund the legislature has to work with in assembling the 2018/19 budget. The forecast numbers projected that our state’s budget surplus will rise to $1.65 billion—an increase of about $250 million compared to the preliminary forecast in November.
This forecast shows that tax relief for Minnesotans is long overdue. We are working on ways at the Capitol to cut taxes in various areas, enabling people to keep more of their hard earned money.
This week, Governor Dayton stated in an interview with the Pioneer Press that he wants to include language in the Real ID bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. He has instructed Senate DFL legislators to vote against the bill if this language is not included.
It is my belief that complex and important immigration policy should not be attached to a bill that is simply meant to give Minnesotans the option of boarding a plane or entering a military base with their driver’s license. We should not risk Real ID’s passage by attaching an issue that deserves to be dealt with separately. Again, I will keep you updated as this issue continues to be debated.
As I mentioned last week, the House passed a bill allowing for Sunday sales of liquor. This legislation would mean that liquor stores could choose whether or not they will stay open on Sundays, providing more economic freedom. This bill passed the Minnesota Senate with some minimal amendments, received its final passage in the House, and will be sign by Governor Dayton shortly. These provisions will take effect July 1st of this year.
Sherco Power Plant Bill
This week Governor Dayton signed the Sherco Power Plant bill, which allows Xcel Energy to move forward this their plan to build a natural gas-fired plant at the existing coal-fired Sherco Power Plant site in Becker, Minnesota.
Sherco is the largest power plant in the Midwest, and has the ability to power 50% of our state. Replacing two retiring coal-fired units at Sherco will help our state meet federal clean energy standards, while providing reliable baseload power to our state that cannot be supplied by other clean energy sources, such as wind and solar. This is the most cost-effective option to keep energy reliable and stable in our state, and I am happy that this bipartisan bill was signed into law.
As I mentioned last week, Rep. Erin Maye Quade (House District 57A), Sen. Greg Clausen (Senate District 57), and I will be holding a town hall in our district on March 11th at 1:30 PM, at Falcon Ridge Middle School in Apple Valley.
Here is the flyer for the event: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/goppdf/8f8eca18-6819-4f33-9657-9c6fcdeac9b3.pdf
Be sure to mark your calendars and join us for a conversation! Visit the Facebook event for details and updates: https://www.facebook.com/events/1687191627965605/
In the Community Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of attending a reception at the Lakeville Area Arts Center to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Coffee Concerts organized by Apple Valley constituents, Rolf Erdahl and Carrie Vecchione. This concert series is supported by an Community Arts Grant funded by Legacy funds.
It was a pleasure talking with folks at the reception, and as a member of the Legacy Committee, I look forward to experiencing additional ways that Legacy funds are used to culturally enrich our area as well.
Keep in Touch
As always, please don't hesitate to contact me with your comments, questions, and concerns. Email me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 651-296-4306. You can also follow my updates on Facebook at www.facebook.com/repannawills. If you plan to stop by and visit me at the Capitol once I have returned from maternity leave, my office is 491 in the State Office Building.
State Representative, District 57B
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