Minnesota House of Representatives


State Representative JoAnn Ward

231 State Office BuildingState Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

For more information contact: Susie Merthan 651-296-2955

Posted: Mar 10 2015 5:58PM
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Legislative Update - March 10, 2015

Dear friends,
Equal Rights Amendment
Contrary to popular perception, the Equal Rights Amendment is NOT the law of the land! In 1923, a bill to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was introduced in Congress. It has been reintroduced every year since then. The Amendment would change the US Constitution to guarantee equal protection under the law for women, and would ban employer discrimination against women. The ERA was passed by Congress in 1973, and was subsequently ratified by 35 states, including Minnesota. However, 38 state ratifications are necessary to enshrine the amendment in the US Constitution. In recent years, there has been a push to put the ERA back in the national spotlight as part of an effort to encourage three more states to ratify this important amendment. Although it ratified the amendment at the federal level, Minnesota never added the ERA to our state constitution. Now is the time to join the ten other states in our Union that have enshrined equal protection for women in their state constitution. It is time to guarantee women constitutional equal rights in Minnesota. This is an important opportunity for Minnesota to live up to its reputation as a state committed to equality and justice, and I hope that we will have bipartisan support in the Legislature to act on this important issue.
Sunday was International Women’s Day. This holiday celebrates the progress women have made in fighting for gender equality, but also reminds us of the need to continue that fight. In the United States, women are still only paid 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. International Women’s Day should empower all of us, men and women, to fight for equality and to end discrimination in the workplace. Adding the Equal Rights Amendment to Minnesota’s Constitution is an important step that must be taken to promote constitutionally-guaranteed equal rights in our state.
Stillwater Correctional Facility
Last week, I toured the Stillwater Correctional Facility with members of the Public Safety and Crime Prevention Finance and Policy Committee. The visit made me aware of reforms that need to be made in Minnesota’s prison system, but also reminded me of the importance of investing in crime prevention, including education and intervention to make sure that our young people stay away from crime in the first place. A strong K-12 system, as well as investments in pre-K education, are proven ways of reducing crime and providing a future to young people. Moving people out of poverty with good paying jobs is essential to reducing our prison populations. I hope other representatives will join me in renewing our focus on strengthening early childhood education, and breaking the school to prison pipeline.
Worker Dignity Bill
I am excited to be working on a bill (SF 890) with Senator John Marty this session to end worker poverty. People who work full time should not live in poverty, but unfortunately in today’s economy many working families do. One of every three Minnesota children are in families that are struggling to make ends meet. Problems including hunger and homelessness can and do plague working people here in Minnesota.
SF 890 would do a number of things to ensure that workers can afford basic necessities, including:
·         Increasing the minimum wage by 75 cents each year from 2017-2020, to $12.50/hour.
·         Increasing access to affordable childcare, eliminating the 7,000 families on the waiting list for child care assistance.
·         Reestablishing the MEED (Minnesota Emergency Employment Development) jobs program to assist small businesses in hiring the unemployed. MEED was established in the 1980s and was described as the most effective job creation program in any state in the last 50 years.
These measures, which go beyond the minimum wage increase the legislature passed last year (to $9.50/hr by 2016), will help to improve the lives of low income workers and their families. These investments support economic growth, as the dollars are spent on basic needs and enter the local economy right away. In Minnesota, working hard should mean being able to support your family. The Worker Dignity Bill will help to achieve that goal.
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 rep.joann.ward@house.mn.
JoAnn Ward
State Representative


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