House passes union bill with clock ticking on session

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State lawmakers are trying to wrap up the 2013 legislative session before a midnight deadline for adjournment.

They’ve already passed most of the big pieces of the next two-year budget, but several key issues remained unresolved in the closing hours.

The House concluded a debate that stretched over a couple of days over the unionization of two groups of government-subsidized workers . The bill allows in-home child care providers and personal care assistants that work with the elderly and disabled to hold elections on whether to join unions. It passed 68-66, with a few DFLers joining the GOP opposition.

Republicans accused Democrats of paying back their allies in organized labor for their help in last fall’s election. Rep. Peggy Scott, R-Andover, said the union bill is unnecessary and inappropriate.

“I see this unionization of self-employed people, mostly women-owned businesses, as an assault on women-owned businesses,” Scott said.

There were also claims that the bill would wrongly divert tax dollars to pay union dues. But the bill’s author disagreed. Rep. Michael Nelson, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said the state reimbursement to providers is for services rendered, and at that point the money no longer belongs to the taxpayers.

“It is the day care providers’ money. It is the PCA’s money,” Nelson said. “What they do with it is their business.”

On a more bipartisan note, the House also passed an omnibus elections bill, 99-32. It includes a provision to expand the use of absentee voting in the state, by eliminating the requirement that a voter have a valid excuse for not voting in person on Election Day.

The state Senate is expected to take up the tax bill passed by the House early this morning. The measure raises $2 billion in new tax revenue through an income tax increase on the wealthiest 2 percent of Minnesotans, a $1.60 per pack cigarette tax increase, an elimination of some corporate subsidies and other tax code changes.

Both chambers must also pass a finance bill for state government operations.

Two other proposals– a bonding bill for state Capitol renovations and a minimum wage increase– remained unresolved.

  • http://:myfriendsccc.com Natalie Marose

    MPR, Please help correct the misinformation that has surrounded this bill.

    This is not about “two groups of government-subsidized workers”. Family Child Care Providers are NOT government-subsidized workers. Family Child Care Providers are small business owners and would like to continue that way. This bill hurts families and taxpayers. Are other business owners that accept government subsidy, like grocery stores, going to be next? Families in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) will only be able to send their children to a provider in the union. That’s bad for families and bad for kids. Access to quality care just got a lot smaller for kids needing it the most. Money that is supposed to go to families is now going to the union. That’s not right.

    “It is the day care providers’ money. It is the PCA’s money,” Nelson said. “What they do with it is their business.” Rep. Nelson, You know better than that. Please at least be truthful about it. You know it is NOT the day care providers’ money, CCAP money is the family’s money.

    and to say, “the state reimbursement to providers (remember, families not providers) is for services rendered, and at that point the money no longer belongs to the taxpayers.” I guess I can’t argue with that, Rep. Nelson, that money no longer belongs to me, a taxpayer, but I wish it did. I’d like to pay my mortgage, put gas in my tank and keep food on my table. But you’re right it is no longer mine.

  • Natalie Marose

    MPR, Please help correct the misinformation that has surrounded this bill.

    This is not about “two groups of government-subsidized workers”. Family Child Care Providers are NOT government-subsidized workers. Family Child Care Providers are small business owners and would like to continue that way. This bill hurts families and taxpayers. Are other business owners that accept government subsidy, like grocery stores, going to be next? Families in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) will only be able to send their children to a provider in the union. That’s bad for families and bad for kids. Access to quality care just got a lot smaller for kids needing it the most. Money that is supposed to go to families is now going to the union. That’s not right.

    “It is the day care providers’ money. It is the PCA’s money,” Nelson said. “What they do with it is their business.” Rep. Nelson, You know better than that. Please at least be truthful about it. You know it is NOT the day care providers’ money, CCAP money is the family’s money.

    and to say, “the state reimbursement to providers (remember, families not providers) is for services rendered, and at that point the money no longer belongs to the taxpayers.” I guess I can’t argue with that, Rep. Nelson, that money no longer belongs to me, a taxpayer, but I wish it did. I’d like to pay my mortgage, put gas in my tank and keep food on my table. But you’re right it is no longer mine.

  • Lucille Paden

    Excellent points…most families who already can’t afford daycare or PCA’s for their disabled kids can not afford to pay higher wages. There are a lot of parents of autistic kids that struggle without PCA help and with this and forthcoming increases in wages they never will. ….

  • Sonia

    I would like to remind everyone that this bill, from everything that I’ve read over the last months, is merely allowing adults working as care workers to choose to join unions. Seriously, unions are not bad. Problems driving this bill are that many care workers are underpaid and have difficulty with continuing education being valued, especially financially. The state is in no way requiring anyone to become members of a union, but increasing the avenues these workers have for support would be one pathway toward ensuring high quality care for children and those with limited abilities. and I have been on both sides, as a worker and as a paying parent. There are no perfect answers but this can’t be the worst idea out there.