Thursday evening, we debated and passed the Uniform Employment Standards Act. Here is a brief summary of this bill, in addition to some information about what is being done in the legislature to address the transportation funding sparsity that Forest Lake School District is facing.
The Uniform Employment Standards Act
This bill, HF600, clarifies in statute that the state is solely responsible for setting minimum wage levels and employment standards. This has been the precedent since Minnesota first became a state 160 years ago.
Recently, however, there has been a string of local governing bodies (cities, towns, counties, and the Met Council) that have taken it upon themselves to set different minimum wage and employment benefit requirements than the state. This has created a confusing patchwork of mandates from city to city that are very difficult for our business community to navigate when they operate in other areas of the state or want to expand.
Our small businesses can, and are, navigating the employer/employee relationship and providing wages and benefits that are sustainable for employers and fair for employees. In addition, the with unemployment in our state at 3.9%- lower than the 4.7% national average- employers are actually competing with each other to attract qualified candidates and retain skilled employees through providing great wages and benefits packages. Keeping employment regulations consistent in Minnesota paves the way for small business expansion and economic growth.
Ultimately, we want to make sure that important issues like minimum wage and benefits are determined by a level of government that reflects their importance to Minnesotans. These issues decisions have a huge impact on the lives of our citizens and our economic health, and deserve the attention of our state government.
I will keep you updated on this issue as it is debated by the Senate.
Forest Lake School District Transportation Funding
I am coauthor of a bill, HF1612, that would appropriate money to eliminate the transportation funding shortfall that Forest Lake School District is facing.
Because the Forest Lake district is so large and enrollment is down, fewer kids are on buses that cover the same long distances. State funding per pupil isn’t enough to pay for the distance that our district buses its students. HF1612 received a hearing in the Education Finance Committee on Thursday and has been laid over for possible inclusion in the Education Finance omnibus bill.
I am both a coauthor on this bill, and am chief author of a separate piece of legislation that would also address the transportation shortfall for our district, HF1455.
I also had the pleasure of visiting with groups from our district in the last several days. Thank you to Mike Miron and the student members of the Forest Lake High School FFA chapter for taking the time to stop by.
I’d also like to thank the group of Forest Lake and Stillwater Area Realtors who met with me to talk about their priorities for this session.
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact my office to schedule an appointment or ask any questions you may have. I look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you for the honor of being your representative; I appreciate your support.