Paid family leave passes legislative hurdle
Includes medical leave too
With the Legislature in its fourth week, most of the focus has been for legislators to get settled in and acclimated to their assignments, get bills authored and introduced, and have agencies provide overviews of the work they perform for the State of Minnesota.
The Paid Family and Medical Leave bill has passed its first hurdle in the Minnesota House of Representatives. House File (HF) 5 authored by Rep. Laurie Halverson (D-Eagan), passed the House Labor committee on Wednesday.
"Minnesotans care about each other and Minnesota employers want to do the right thing for their employees," Halverson said when introducing the bill to the committee. "People across the country support paid family leave. It’s time to make sure all Minnesota employers and employees have access to this benefit."
MAPE member Angela Byrne (pictured on the left in the photo on the right and Rep. Halverson is pictured on the right) testified on the need for paid family and medical leave. Her testimony was in coalition with many other organizations. Byrne shared her heart wrenching story of depleting most of her leave following the birth of her child. Shortly after returning to work, her mom was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer and a severe sepsis infection.
After everything Byrne and her family have been through, she stated, "My husband and I are extraordinarily fortunate that we could weather this storm without destroying our long-term financial health. However, I am painfully aware of how easily so many people are put in financial jeopardy."
As the one year anniversary of her mother's death nears, Byrne says she's taking up this fight in honor of her mom, who went back to work as a baker just two weeks after giving birth because that's all the unpaid time off she could afford. "I’m here for her, and for all of the people out there like her. Let’s take care of our neighbors and get this into law this session."
This bill, providing up to 12 weeks of paid leave, would afford qualified people like Byrne to be able to take paid leave while maintaining job protections. This bill provides employees the right to take time off to care for themselves or a family member in critical times of need.
The Equal Rights Amendment passed the House Government Operations committee last week. MAPE’s Government Relations Committee chair, Ann Hill (on the back left in the photo on the right), testified in favor of the bill and the need for the bill to be passed in Minnesota. Authored by Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein (D-New Brighton), HF 13 would extend equality of rights under the law to all citizens regardless of gender through a constitutional amendment on the 2020 ballot.
MAPE member Nicole Smith-Holt continues her fight at the Capitol this session advocating for affordable insulin. Smith-Holt has traveled the country filming a documentary, testifying before Congress, advocating on insulin affordability, attending press conferences and testifying before the state Legislature. She has been invited to the State of the Union as U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s guest on Feb. 5.
Smith-Holt is tirelessly working to ensure that the skyrocketing price of insulin, produced by only three companies in the world, doesn’t burden another person with the decision to determine whether or not their next dose of insulin is something they can afford or not. In some cases, the cost of insulin has risen 537 percent over the past 10 years. She knows the consequences of insulin price gauging very well when the affordability of insulin cost her son his life in 2017.
MAPE is also watching bills that provide statutory language making Minnesota a right-to-work state, bills that would open up the privately-owned prison in Appleton, and bills to increase employer contribution rates for employees with an Individual Retirement Account Plan (IRAP) at MnState.
As a reminder, MAPE is planning its Day on the Hill for March 26. Sign-ups and appointments will start Feb. 6. Day on the Hill will be held in the Capitol Rotunda with more details to follow when the sign-up becomes available.
- Saturday, Feb. 2 at 10 a.m.
Plymouth City Hall, 3400 Plymouth Blvd, Plymouth, MN. 55447
Reps. Patty Acomb and Ginny Klevorn
- Saturday, Feb. 2 at 10 a.m.
Brooklyn Center Community Center, 6301 Shingle Creek Parkway, Brooklyn Center, MN. 55430
Reps. Sam Vang and Mike Nelson, and Sen. Kris Eaton