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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Josh Heintzeman (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Josh Heintzeman

Friday, February 15, 2019

Below is a column that will be published in this weekend's edition of the Brainerd Daily Dispatch regarding Democrats' proposal implement a new state-run paid sick and family leave program. Please take a moment and give it a read.

Late last month, Democrats held a hearing in the House Labor Committee for a proposal that would require Minnesota employers to provide up to 24 weeks of paid sick and family leave, per year, for their employees.

If I was at a speaking engagement, I would let that hang there for a minute and allow people to process. Notice I didn't say 24 days of leave, but rather a full 24 week or 168 day benefit. As proposed, this would apply to every single employee and employer in the state including small and micro businesses, part-time and temporary employees, and independent contractors.

I agree with the general premise that we need to explore ways to ensure more Minnesotans have access to paid sick and family leave. It’s clear that individuals and their families benefit when employees have the ability to take time off to care for an ailing loved one or to spend time with a newborn. No one would argue the merits of paid leave.

Unfortunately, this plan being pushed by Democrats is the wrong way to get this done. Their proposal would create what is effectively a single payer, government-run insurance bureaucracy that will increase payroll taxes on every single individual that earns wages in Minnesota and their employer—meaning less money in your paycheck. Minnesota would be the only place in the country, other than Washington D.C., that would require taxes on both employees and employers to pay for this program.

In addition to the payroll taxes, the proposal makes it virtually impossible to opt out of the program unless granted permission from the state. If a business was able to secure permission to opt out, their employees and the business would still be required to pay the payroll tax even though they would not be using the program.

So what exactly would Minnesotans and Minnesota businesses be paying for? They would be funding a massive new government bureaucracy that has MNLARS and MNsure 3.0 written all over it. In fact, we still don’t know what the costs would be to build this system and given our struggles building MNLARS and MNsure, I am not confident that the state could ever deliver a functioning system. In addition to startup costs, we still have no idea how much it would cost per year to maintain the system or how many employees would be needed to operate the system.

A primary reason I'm writing about this is because of the significant impact this proposal would place on greater Minnesota businesses—especially those that employ seasonal workers in the lakes area. For instance, under this proposal, resorts in our area would be required to provide up to 24 weeks of paid leave for a high school-aged employee that may only be employed for three months during the summer.

To recap, this proposal would take more money out of Minnesotans’ paychecks, create a massive bureaucracy that will cost millions of dollars to build with no guarantee it will actually work, cause some Minnesotans to lose benefits, and discourage employers from expanding and hiring more employees. While the bill author’s heart may be in the right place, this proposal is wrong for Minnesota. Instead, we should continue to incentivize businesses to provide additional benefits to their employees rather than creating another bureaucratic boondoggle that will cost us hundreds of millions of dollars.

Staying in Touch

That’s all for this week’s update. I will have more information for you as the session progresses. In the meantime, I urge you to contact me to share any thoughts, concerns, or questions you may have. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-4333 or via email at

Thanks and have a great weekend,