ST. PAUL, MN – More than 30 DFL women legislators met with Gov. Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith to share their concerns with three important issues in the closing days of the legislative session: protecting minimum wage and paid family leave by opposing the preemption bill, maintaining the Office of the Economic Status of Women, and protecting Minnesota’s clean and fair elections.
“These outstanding Senators and Representatives have achieved great progress for women throughout Minnesota. But our work is not done.” Gov. Mark Dayton said. “We must continue to stand up for equality and inclusion throughout our state, including requiring equal pay for equal work, protecting reproductive rights and access to health care, charting the course for paid parental and family leave, and expanding economic opportunities for all women in Minnesota.”
The preemption bill the Republican majorities in both the House and Senate are pushing, is designed to strip local governments of their authority to improve workplace standards. In Minneapolis and St. Paul, more than 150,000 people would be denied earned sick and safe time, a benefit that allows workers to take time off when sick or taking care of children or parents. Preemption would also roll back efforts to locally raise the minimum wage, an effort that would come down most harshly on women as more than two-thirds of minimum wage earners are women.
“While DFLers in the House and Senate have championed parental and family leave bills, Republicans have worked against programs that help women stay gainfully employed and become more economically secure,” said Sen. Susan Kent (DFL-Woodbury) “Eliminating earned worker benefits is penny wise and pound foolish. We want the best and brightest working for Minnesota. We are doing them a disservice by not funding paid family leave.”
“The preemption bill is part of a national effort put from the Chamber of Commerce and ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) to undermine workers—especially women workers and the autonomy of our locally elected officials,” Sen. Sandra Pappas (DFL- St. Paul) said. “This bill disproportionally hurts women in the workplace.”
The Office on the Economic Status of Women (OESW) provides valuable resources and services to Minnesota women and legislators. The OESW engages women throughout Minnesota to learn more about barriers and find ways to improve the lives of women across the state.
“Republican leaders will silence women’s voices and interests by closing the Office on the Economic Status of Women,” said Rep. Rena Moran (DFL-St. Paul). “Their disregard for improving the lives of women defies Minnesota values. DFLers stand with Minnesota women and will fight to ensure funding for the Office of Women’s Economic Security is a priority at the Capitol.”
“According to recent OESW research, transportation is the number one barrier for women’s economic security in Greater Minnesota,” said Rep. Connie Bernardy (DFL-New Brighton) “The lack of public transportation or a reliable, affordable car prevents women from accepting that well-paid manufacturing job in their region; they can’t finish their college education or job training; they can’t get their children to quality daycare on the way to work or pick up groceries on their way home.”
Republicans are seeking to overturn an important component of Minnesota’s campaign finance structure through the elimination of the public financing program. This program is helps women in Minnesota break down and reduce the gender gap in the legislature.
“Eliminating the voluntary spending limits and the public funding of political campaigns will harm the efforts of low income, underrepresented, and especially women wanting to run for political office,” said Representative Diane Loeffler (DFL-Minneapolis) “Spending caps keep our elections clean and public funding allows candidates to run for office without being dependent on money from special interests and lobbyists.”
“If this program ends, within a few years we won’t recognize elections in Minnesota,” Sen. Carolyn Laine (DFL-Columbia Heights) said. “There will be no spending limits, and the costs to run a campaign for Legislature will skyrocket as candidates try to outdo each other in spending. This will be a blow to women trying to run for office and eliminate candidates who don’t have access to this wealth.”
“We have made important progress in Minnesota, but we cannot stop now,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “Every day, 2.7 million women do their jobs, take care of their families, and make our communities work. Our economy, our schools, and our communities ought to work for women as well as women work for us.”