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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R)

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Legislative Update

Friday, April 11, 2014

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

It’s been another busy week at the Capitol. This week, I would like to update you on minimum wage, legislative immunity and the Bullying Bill.

Minimum Wage

This week, Senate and House Democrats made a deal to approve a lavish, new $89.5 million Senate Office Building in exchange for an irresponsible increase in the minimum wage.

Here are the highlights of the new law:

  • $9.50 an hour minimum wage for most employers
  • $7.75 an hour minimum wage for small employers (under $500,000 in revenue) and for teenage workers under age 18
  • Incremented in three stages; law will be fully implemented by 2016
  • Automatic inflationary trigger starting in 2018 tied to implicit price deflator with a 2.5 percent cap
  • Commissioner of Department of Labor and Industry can suspend inflationary increases during economic downturns

This bill will affect small businesses, nursing homes, care givers, youth workers and employers across Minnesota. I empathize with the need to raise minimum wage and would have supported a reasonable rate increase. Instead, this massive rate increase was pushed through by Democrats in exchange for a political palace in St. Paul.

DWI Immunity Bill

On Wednesday, the House took up a bill to revoke legislative privilege.

Current law exempts state lawmakers from arrest for certain crimes during the months we meet in session including DWI arrest. The bill makes DWI an arrestable offence for legislators. 

Politicians are not above the law, and I am glad that the House took up this measure. Making the law more fair and equitable for everyone—whether you’re an elected official or not is the right thing to do. I am hopeful that the Senate will soon follow suit and send this bill onto Governor Dayton for signature.

Bullying Bill Signed into Law

Also on Wednesday, Governor Dayton signed House File 826 into law. Ignoring the opposition of parents and school districts, the Bullying Bill passed in both the House and Senate.

Under current state law, all school districts are already required to have a bullying policy in place. This new law, however, takes away local flexibility to implement and enforce policies that work for their district, trading it in for a state mandated one size fits all model.

And what’s more, the enforcement of this legislation could cost Minnesota schools as much as $25 million per year. Taking time and money out of the classroom to enforce unnecessary state laws is not good for students.

Parents should also be wary of this new law. Every parent wants their children to feel safe in school, but under this legislation parental notification is not required if your child is bullied or accused of bullying. Parents deserve to know what’s happening in school. While the intentions of the Bullying Bill were good, it does not sufficiently protect the privacy and rights of children and parents.

The flaws and unintended consequences of HF 826 will have a negative impact on our schools. I am strongly in favor of safe and supportive Minnesota schools, but believe that anti-bullying enforcement is better done at the local level by teachers, administrators and parents. 

Constituents at the Capitol

This week I met with constituents who came down for the Health Care Auxiliary of Minnesota Day at the Capitol. Pictured are Chrissy Christianson of Hendricks, and Sandy Lacek and Dede Burlingame of Canby.














I will continue to work on your behalf in St. Paul. If I can ever help you or your family on a matter of state government, please do not hesitate to contact me.