This article was originally posted on
April 11, 2014 - Legislative Update
Dear Neighbors and Friends,
We made some significant progress this week by passing three important bills on the House floor. The Women's Economic Security Act
from several bills that addressed the pay gap that still exists for female workers. I personally authored part of this bill, and many other Representatives worked to create a final package that fixes outdated state statutes. More and more families are depending on female workers to serve as their primary bread winner, but that is pretty difficult when women only make 80 cents for every dollar men make. This bill will address that pay gap and help families across Minnesota.
The House also passed a bill this week that will increase our state's minimum wage(2)
from its current rate of $6.15/hour and $5.50/hour for large and small businesses. Not only was that wage lower than the national rate, it was lower than our neighboring states. Increasing the rate will mean a pay increase for 357,000 workers in Minnesota
. It will mean fewer people are relying on public assistance just to get by. That, in turn, will reduce the cost of public assistance programs for all taxpayers. To make sure the increase in wages isn't too drastic for businesses, the new wage will be phased in over several years until it reaches $9.50/hour and $7.75/hour for large and small businesses by 2016.
Lastly, we passed a bill to address the growing problem of bullying in our schools(3)
. This bill was put together with input from school administrators and school boards from across the state. The final bill is something which local school districts can work with. It essentially requires every school to either put their own local policy on bullying in place or use the recommended state policy. No student should have to go to school every day with the fear of being bullied. This bill will make sure our local school districts put policies in place to address that issue.
If you have any questions about the progress we made this week, please feel free to contact me. More detailed information on each of the bills I mentioned can be found below.
The key provisions of the Women's Economic Security Act
- Allow mothers to stay in the workforce by expanding family leave and providing reasonable accommodations for pregnant and nursing employees and expanding access to high-quality, affordable childcare,
- Decrease the gender pay gap through workforce development grants to increase the number of women in high-wage, high-demand nontraditional work,
- Reduce the gender pay gap through increased enforcement of equal pay laws for state contractors and by allowing employees to discuss pay inequities.
The key provisions in the minimum wage bill
- $9.50 minimum wage for large businesses in 2016. $8.00 in August 2014, $9.00 in August 2015,
- $7.75 minimum wage for small businesses in 2016. $6.50 in August 2014, $7.25 in August 2015. The $7.75 minimum wage rate would also apply for all 16 and 17 year olds, the first 90 days of work for 18 and 19 year olds, and employees working under a J1 visa,
- Beginning in 2018, all wages would increase each year on January 1st by inflation, but that would be capped at 2.5%. The indexed increase could be stopped at any time by the Commissioner of Labor and Industry in the case of an economic downturn.
The Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act will:
- Require that school districts and charter schools either craft their own policy, or adopt the state model policy, to prevent bullying, cyberbullying, intimidation and promote remedial responses,
- Schools must consult with students, parents and the community in this process and must review and revise their policies in a timely manner, consistent with other state-reviewed policies.