At the Legislature
With Friday being the second legislative deadline, this week House and Senate committees assembled their omnibus bills.
House Workforce adopted the DE amendment to HF4355 Noor, the omnibus bill, and took public testimony.
Senate Jobs took public testimony on SF3881 Rarick and adopted an A6 amendment related to elevator construction; and an A5 amendment eliminating the increased funding for prevailing wage enforcement, saying the committee did not have a spending target. They laid it on the table.
Jobs also heard SF4091 Pratt and adopted a DE amendment. This stripped Paid Family and Medical Leave from the bill and added SF919, which rolls back key elements of the 2019 Wage Theft Prevention Act. The bill contains a total of $250k in new spending: $175K for a pension study, $25k for youth skills training; and $50k from the workforce development fund for Abijas on the Backside, a horse therapy program for first responders. Commissioner Robertson expressed disappointment that the omnibus bills do not include many of DLI’s priorities and expressed concern about the wage theft provisions. DEED Deputy Commissioner testified about their priorities missing from the bill and expressed concern about the UI fraud reporting provisions. Public testimony was taken on both bills. PFML coalition members testified.
SF3881 was moved to Finance on a voice vote. SF4091 was moved to Finance on a divided voice vote.
House Capital Investment continued with informational hearings on local bonding projects.
House Labor heard testimony, amended, and moved omnibus HF4177 Ecklund. We testified on the prevailing wage enforcement funding, OSHA federal conformity, oil refinery safety, window cleaner safety, and wage theft. Pipefitters Local 455 testified on oil refinery safety. The Finishing Trades Institute Upper Midwest testified in support of apprenticeship funding. The bill was moved to Ways and Means on a party-line vote.
Senate Capital Investment met for the first time this session for an informational hearing on the Governor’s bonding proposal, SF4413 Bakk. They adjourned to the call of the chair.
House Workforce amended and moved omnibus HF4355 Noor on to Ways and Means on a party-line vote.
House Capital Investment continued to hold informational hearings on bills.
Senate Finance took up SF4091 Pratt, the jobs omnibus, and:
- amended on the language from SF3881, Rarick’s Labor omnibus bill.
- adopted an A7 amendment to amend effective dates of 2021 session laws related to a number of business and community development grant and loan programs. Champion objected because the amendment had not been heard in the Jobs committee.
- DLI Commissioner Robertson testified on several items including wage theft, saying that while some of the wage theft provisions are unnecessary because they reflect what the department is already doing, they object to other provisions that undermine the intent of the law to ensure employees are paid the wages they are owed. She also testified that the agency’s supplemental budget priorities, like ESST and PFML, should be included in the bill, as well as the increase in prevailing wage and apprenticeship funding.
- DEED testified that a number of their agency’s proposals were not in the bill, including PFML.
- Marty and Champion challenged Pratt on his provisions to weaken the wage theft law and had some good back and forth.
- Kent weighed in strongly on the absence of PFML.
- Champion expressed his disappointment with the overall bill, saying it doesn’t meet the moment.
- Pratt moved to add on to his bill SF3510 as amended (Tomassoni’s higher ed omnibus) and SF4269 as amended (Senjem’s energy omnibus. It passed on a divided voice vote.
- Pratt moved SF4091 as amended be recommended to pass and placed on General Orders. It passed on a party-line vote.
The Senate passed an $8.4 billion tax cut bill 42-24. Here is analysis from Minnesota Budget Project Director Nan Madden explaining the Senate Republicans' two major tax cut priorities – expanding Minnesota’s tax exemption for Social Security benefits and cutting the income tax rate in the first bracket.
The Legislature is on break until Tuesday, April 19.
This Week at the Capitol from MN AFL-CIO is a weekly “under the dome” update on Labor’s legislative priorities. It is distributed to a labor audience including: MN AFL-CIO Executive and General Board members; Area Labor Councils and Regional Labor Federations; the MN AFL-CIO State Retiree Council; Local Union Coordinators; labor press; labor lobbyists and campaign staff; and Labor Caucus legislators.