Almost every law we pass as legislators has far reaching ramifications beyond its original intent – the domino effect, as I call it. When considering new legislation, it is my job as a legislator to do my research and ferret out and consider those ramifications, both for our state and for our local communities. It’s also my job as a legislator to consider whether the legislation will actually fix the issue it’s addressing or not.
A number of bills came to the House floor this week. I supported some of them. I have highlighted two of the more consequential bills below which I did not support.
I want you, my constituents, to know that I do not make these decisions lightly. I don’t decide to vote yes or no based on which side of the aisle authored the particular provision. I decide based on the merits of the legislation, and I take that job very seriously. If this means I need to vote no – and feel like I’m having to do that often lately – then so be it. I will always stand up for what I believe is right for the people of our area and for our state.
SAFE AND SICK TIME PROPOSAL WILL HURT JOB CREATORS
On Thursday, House Democrats passed their Safe and Sick Time law. Under this House majority plan, every business owner with at least one employee must provide up to 48 hours of paid “sick and safe time” off for the first year and up to 80 hours (including accrued time) off in future years. This unfunded mandate comes with onerous rules, regulations, and fines.
Our small businesses are already experiencing a multitude of stressors, including supplier challenges, high inflation, and a workforce shortage of crises levels. This is clearly going to be problematic, especially for very small employers and those that rely on part-time or seasonal workers.
This is another hard hit on our local employers. When will they cry “uncle” and leave? We in southern Minnesota live very close to our state border. It’s a short 15 minute drive to Iowa where they do not micromanage their employers. I wouldn’t blame local businesses for packing up and moving to a better tax and regulatory climate. How will we entice businesses to locate in our local communities when our state laws set us up for failure?
I believe this legislation was brought forth by the majority party with good intentions, but it’s misguided. It’s going to produce bad results for our state and our area. We are going to see employers driven from this state and have a difficult time bringing new employers to our state. This will have future ramifications for both people looking for good paying jobs and the budget health of our state.
Folks, this is a solution in search of a problem. We have an employee driven market. If an employee doesn’t like the time off plan their employer offers, they can go find an employer that has one they like. I voted NO on this bill.
CHILD CARE FUNDING PROPOSAL DOES NOT STOP FRAUD
This week the Minnesota House approved legislation that increases the rates for the childcare assistance program (CCAP.) I did not support this bill and here’s why:
I fully support finding solutions to the high cost of childcare in Minnesota. It’s an issue that must be addressed, but simply pouring more money into it without fixing core issues is not the solution.
I see two major problems with this bill. The first and greatest is fraud. State audits have found that CCAP funding – funding that goes directly to childcare providers - has been plagued with large scale fraud. In 2018, the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) was rocked by allegations of fraud potentially exceeding $100 million. (For context, in Fiscal Year 2018, the state paid $254 million in subsidies for the program.) If there is anyone who questions if fraud is really an issue, consider this: some of those indicted in the Feeding Our Future scandal are STILL being paid from other Minnesota government programs. What?? There are no meaningful guardrails to prevent fraud in this bill.
Secondly, the bill does not address any of the root causes that puts Minnesota among states that have the highest costs for childcare. Overregulation and government micromanagement is one cause of these high childcare costs. This bill does not address overregulation which has not only driven up cost of childcare but has pushed many childcare providers completely out of the business and exacerbating the shortage of childcare providers.
How can we ensure quality childcare and protect against these fraudsters who set up fake childcare and rake in millions in taxpayer dollars? Address it at the marketplace level and fund families - not the system. Put more funding into early learning scholarships which let parents control the quality and let’s parents choose the REAL childcare providers that fit their family needs. That’s the kind of legislation I will support.
Andy Henschel and Brad Kramer traveled from Albert Lea to advocate for our Fountain Lake dredging project.
This is a bonding request which I have again authored this session. I fully support this clean water initiative. I worked hard to get this project included in last year’s bonding bill and it was included. Sadly, the bill never came up for a vote. I am working hard to get this project included in our next bonding bill and hope that this plan will be successful this time!
Have a good weekend,