With just over two weeks left in this year’s session, we’re hard at work to deliver on our promises to Minnesotans. We’re making Minnesota the best place to raise a family, supporting job training, making the biggest tax cut in state history, and making historic investments in our education system.
It’s a good time to be a Minnesotan.
As we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I want to take a moment to recognize the contributions of this vibrant and diverse community to our nation.
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made huge advancements and groundbreaking discoveries in every field, from science and medicine to business and the arts. This is a time to celebrate the contributions and achievements of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and to honor the rich and diverse cultures that make up the AAPI community.
Like many other communities of color, the AAPI community has a vast and rich history that is often not taught in schools. Our House K-12 education budget takes massive steps to change that. The bill provides resources to improve our social studies curriculum in civics, ethnic studies, and genocide. When we ignore history, the worst parts are bound to repeat themselves. This coupled with the Increase Teachers of Color Act, also included in the Education bill, will help more of Minnesota’s students see themselves and their identities represented in the classroom – some for the very first time.
The Jobs and Labor Budget Bill
I’ve been working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to prepare our Jobs and Labor budget bill, which includes proposals from the Workforce Development Committee, which I chair, the Economic Development Committee, and the Labor and Industry Committee. This bill is one of the most robust investments in Minnesota’s economy in history, with an emphasis on small businesses and job training.
Last week, we passed the bill off the House Floor. Because there are some differences between our bill and the Senate’s version, this week we met with a few Senate members in a conference committee to iron out the details before it heads back to each respective body for a final vote and to the Governor’s desk for signature.
Minnesota has dozens of seasoned non-profit organizations who have fine-tuned job training programs for an array of Minnesotans. This bill makes a major investment in a package of competitive grant programs to encourage workforce development, specifically targeted for communities of color and low-income communities. Included in this package is funding for well-established community organizations, like Summit Academy and CLUES, who have a history of preparing Minnesotans for good jobs.
You can read more about our bill below.
Paid Family and Medical Leave
This week, the Minnesota House passed HF 2, known as Paid Family and Medical Leave. The bill provides Minnesota workers up to 12 weeks of paid family leave to care for family or themselves. The program is funded by a small employer and employee contribution, meaning lost wages from time off will be recovered by the State fund, not employers.
Every day in Minnesota, too many workers face the impossible choice of either going to work to earn a paycheck or staying home to take care of themselves or a sick family member. While some workers have jobs that provide paid sick leave, thousands of Minnesotans do not have access to a single paid day off. Additionally, those in the lowest wage positions and our BIPOC community members face stark disparities.
The United States of America is the only high-wealth country in the world that does not guarantee some sort of paid leave for its workforce, and it’s been a major disservice to our citizens and our economy. In addition to the benefits for workers, paid family and medical leave will also benefit businesses. Studies have shown that businesses with paid family and medical leave policies have lower turnover rates, higher productivity, and stronger employee morale. Paid family and medical leave will also help to attract and retain top talent. Our bill creates a grant program for businesses with 50 employees or fewer that could apply for grants to cover certain costs. This is a massive win for Minnesota.
Thank you Representative Ruth Richardson and Senator Alice Oliveira Mann for carrying this legislation.
Improving conditions for rideshare drivers
Over the past few weeks, legislation to increase protections for rideshare drivers passed out of its final committee hearing. It now awaits action on the House Floor.
Companies such as Uber and Lyft hire drivers as independent contractors, which leaves drivers responsible for both employer and employee taxes and expenses, exempts the company from providing benefits, and excludes drivers from many standard workplace protections. Not only are these drivers being subject to unlivable wages, but violent attacks on rideshare drivers are only increasing, and the companies’ insurance does not cover drivers who are victims of these attacks.
Minnesota's rideshare drivers deserve to come home safe to their families at the end of the day, period. In fact, it is our duty as legislatures to ensure Minnesota’s rideshare drivers make it home safely. The time to act is now – drivers cannot wait any longer.
Thank you to the group of rideshare drivers who came by to ask for my support. I will proudly support this bill when it heads to the Floor.
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I appreciate your attention to these legislative updates. Have a good week.