Last month the House debated and passed a piece of legislation known as the Women's Economic Security Act (WESA). The bill is well-intentioned, but falls short of providing real solutions that would help women succeed in today's economy.
Simply put, the Democrat version of the bill creates more opportunities for trial lawyers than it does for women workers and business owners. That's why Republicans offered an alternative that I was proud to support. The alternative was authored by Representative Sarah Anderson from Plymouth.
Rep. Anderson's alternative allocated money away from the state bureaucracy and instead boosted funding for early childhood grants. Economists agree that education reduces wage gaps of all types.
The alternative I supported also extends pregnancy and parenting leave for mothers, and creates additional pregnancy accommodations and nursing mother protections for working women.
Under Representative Anderson's amendment, women could file a discrimination complaint and have a resolution to their concern within 15 days. The DFL's version involved trial lawyers and could mean up to a year and a half before complaints were fully resolved.
The Republican alternative extends sick leave to include grandchildren, allowing grandparents to step in during times of need when grandchildren are sick and in need of care. The alternative also adds "safe leave" time by allowing time away from work for victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault.
Of course we know that the best way to create opportunities for men and women alike is to have a strong economy and an environment where opportunity and job growth thrive. Democrats have unfortunately taken Minnesota backward in that regard, raising crippling taxes on small businesses and job creators that depress opportunities for women and men alike.
We want to empower entrepreneurs and job seekers, not trial lawyers. The Democrat version has good provisions, like the grants for female-owned businesses to help expand and create more opportunities, but ultimately does more for the job security of trial lawyers than it does for women just looking to get ahead in the stagnant Obama economy.
The Women's Economic Security Act bill is currently in conference committee where the House and the Senate will work out differences and send an identical bill back to both chambers. I hope a bill comes back that empowers female entrepreneurs and job seekers rather than trial lawyers.
We need an economy and business climate that helps all Minnesotans succeed in today's economy, not one that puts more onerous regulations on businesses. Men and women alike can succeed when we get government out of the way and unleash the creativity and excellence of Minnesota's work force and business community.
Have a great weekend,