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An employment plan for all

Published (3/18/2010)
By Patty Ostberg
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Companies and contractors using state bond proceeds might be required to report to the Department of Employment and Economic Development on the number of jobs created and hours worked by those specified in the bill.

Sponsored by Rep. Bobby Joe Champion (DFL-Mpls), HF3184 would require the entity’s plan to include individuals who are “unemployed, especially targeting communities experiencing disproportionately high rates of unemployment including, but not limited to, disabled persons, veterans, low-income, rural, and tribal communities and communities of color.”

“When we think of moving this in terms of a jobs bill, we want to make sure with an intentional plan that it reflects all of the segments of our wonderful state,” Champion told the House State and Local Government Operations Reform, Technology and Elections Committee March 17, adding that federal laws already include similar preference.

Louis King, president of Summit Academy OIC, said “the sad truth is there are already laws on the books. There are already rules in place, but we struggle to implement them.” He said he was told by certain state agencies that if federal funding wasn’t included in the project, there is no obligation by the state to follow employment preference.

Rep. Morrie Lanning (R-Moorhead) said the bill doesn’t clarify who or how a plan is determined to be adequate, and it doesn’t consider different populations around the state. “Without that information it seems to me we’re opening up bond recipients to the possibility of legal challenges.” It could also create a problem for rural areas that don’t have as much diversity, he added.

Approved by the committee, the bill now goes to the House Finance Committee with a recommended re-referral to the House State Government Finance Division. A companion, SF2809, sponsored by Sen. Linda Higgins (DFL-Mpls), awaits action by the Senate Finance Committee.

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