It’s another busy week at the Minnesota Legislature! Here’s a brief update on the work that I’m doing and some of the bills I’m carrying this year:
Supporting Frontline Workers
Frontline workers have sacrificed so much for us throughout the pandemic. They’ve treated COVID patients, taught our kids, responded to emergencies, processed and cooked food, provided child care, and more, all while facing greater risks of exposure to COVID-19. They deserve to be compensated for their hard work.
I was proud to stand up and vote for frontline worker bonuses last Thursday! The House passed HF 2900, a bill that invests $1 billion in premium pay for frontline workers. Under this legislation, more than 667,000 Minnesotans would receive bonus checks worth up to $1,500.
Establishing a 40-hour workweek. Minnesota is the only state with a 48-hour workweek, and that makes it harder to earn overtime pay. My bill reduces the workweek to 40 hours, which has been the federal standard for more than a decade.
Requiring employers to pay overtime if they schedule an employee for shifts on seven or more consecutive days.
Restricting “clopenings,” back-to-back shifts that force workers to open the morning after working a closing shift. My bill allows workers to opt out of shifts if there’s less than 11 hours between them and ensures workers receive overtime pay if they choose to take clopening shifts.
Workers deserve fair pay for fair hours. This legislation would give workers more control over their schedules and restrict scheduling practices that may be used to exploit employees.
Giving Minnesotans a Second Chance
Tuesday, March 1 was the 15th annual Second Chance Day on the Hill. The Second Chance Coalition – a bipartisan group of organizations and individuals who advocate for criminal justice reform – held a virtual rally to mark the occasion and to show their support for legislation that promotes healing, repair, accountability, and belonging. The coalition highlighted the Clean Slate Act, a bill I introduced that would automatically clear old, low-level offenses from the records of Minnesotans who remain crime-free.
The Clean Slate Act would give Minnesotans who’ve paid their debt to society a fair shot at a better future. By lowering barriers that make it difficult to access housing, education, and employment, the bill would help people rejoin their communities and move forward with their lives. I’m happy to report that it has bipartisan support and will be heard by the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Committee this Friday.
The Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Committee is also hearing my bill to establish a Clemency Review Commission. This group of nine appointees would review applications for pardons and commutations before they’re considered by the Board of Pardons. My bill also modifies eligibility requirements and the powers of the Board of Pardons.
Addressing Increasing Retirements Among Police Officers
Hundreds of Minnesota police officers have left the force recently. Many of them chose to retire early, claiming they can no longer work due to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Since many of these early retirees are entitled to receive disability pensions, cities are facing skyrocketing costs for former officers’ health insurance. This could cost the City of Minneapolis millions of dollars. It’s not sustainable for our city to pay for what is essentially two police forces – the existing force and early retirees – and the wave of retirements has exacerbated staffing shortages.
I’m planning to introduce a bipartisan bill to ensure police officers get the treatment they need, which will help them stay on the job and alleviate the strain on Minneapolis’s budget. We know PTSD is a treatable condition and that officers retiring early without receiving treatment isn’t optimal for their mental health or for police departments experiencing staffing shortages. My bill would require officers to try treatment that could help them return to work before and allow cities to be reimbursed for health insurance costs if they implement preventative measures. The Minnesota Reformer published an article about the bill earlier this week.
Protecting Unions and Union Members
The Supreme Court’s decision on Janus v AFSCME upended forty years worth of labor law, making it necessary to update state laws and clarify the rights of public sector unions. That’s why I’m working on a bill that would give public sector unions a fair chance to make the case for union membership and to protect union members from harassment. The Labor, Industry, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee heard this bill yesterday. If you’d like to learn more about it, you can watch the hearing here.
Fighting for a Healthy Climate
As chair of the House Climate and Energy Committee, I’m working hard to address climate change and ensure our state continues to be a great place to live. Over the past few weeks, the committee has heard several exciting proposals, including some of the bills inspired by the $1 billion Climate Action Plan House DFLers introduced in January. You can view a list of our upcoming public hearings here and watch previous meetings here.
If you’d like to learn more about our Climate Action Plan, I encourage you to listen to the latest episode of Capitol Climate Connections. My co-host Rep. Patty Acomb and I recently kicked off the second season of this podcast. I hope you’ll check it out and stay tuned for updates!
If you have any questions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can email me at email@example.com or call (651) 296-5375.