Legislative Update March 15, 2023
As the legislature pushed past its first deadline, which demands that bills make it past their first hearing in order to continue on through the legislative process, MAPE continued to push our priorities and ensure member voices are heard.
One of the largest looming issues this year has been whether to exempt Social Security income from being taxed at the state level. A full exemption would mean over $1 billion hole in the biennial budget, meaning cuts to state agencies would surely be close behind.
MAPE President Megan Dayton spoke on March 9 in opposition to a full Social Security tax repeal at a committee and a press conference:
“As members of MAPE, we see firsthand how the state budget affects the people of Minnesota,” Dayton said. “Our population is rapidly aging, and the cost of caring for older Americans will only increase. If the budgets that support this population's services are cut, we will have done more harm than good with this change.”
MAPE Political Council has prioritized exempting from taxes on Social Security couples who make less than $100,000 in retirement income, which costs the state significantly less and allows more resources to be used on programs and services impacting a greater number of Minnesotans. Here is more about the ballooning costs of exempting all income levels from Social Security tax.
Another bill that MAPE members and staff prioritized is S.F. 2164, legislation that would provide backpay for state workers upon returning to work after a government shutdown. Cathleen Cotter has weathered two shutdowns during her tenure at the Dept. of Human Services and testified in support of the bill.
"There was nothing I could do. I didn’t cause the government shutdowns, but it was my daughters Meaghan and Tierney who were the ones suffering," Cotter testified. "You now have the opportunity to do right by state employees and not penalize us for future government shutdowns we have no control over."
The bill was laid over for possible inclusion in the Senate State and Local Government and Veterans Committee Omnibus policy bill.
MAPE and a coalition other public sector unions are working on a modernization and expansion of the Public Employment Labor Relations Act (PELRA), including but not limited to, allowing use of electronic signatures for cards or dues deductions, changes to mandatory subjects of bargaining, and permitting labor unions and their representatives use of work platforms and technology to communicate with employees on work- related issues.
H.F. 62, a bill funding the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) began moving in the Senate after a hiatus. The quasi-judicial board, first established in 2014 but never fully-funded, would adjudicate state and local public sector unfair labor practice (ULP) claims.
Finally, also in the Senate State and Local Government and Veterans Committee, S.F. 2456 was heard and laid over for consideration in the omnibus bill. This bill would simplify our contract ratification process, ensuring that in the future our contract would not become a political football at the legislature.
Expect that as we push through second and third deadlines, the legislature will start working on joint targets for budget bills.
Want to make your voice heard? Join us for the Lobby Day rally at the Capitol Rotunda on March 23 at 1:30 p.m.