Notebook: Committee Votes To Ban Child Care Union Dues Deduction

Falk, with Sanda

Heather Falk successfully pleaded with a Minnesota House committee Tuesday to ban deducting union dues from state child care assistance funds.

“Nothing should come from those low-income families,” the Cloquet in-home child care provider said.

The Republican-dominated committee agreed with Falk on a 12-7 party-line vote after nearly two hours of partisan debate. The bill now awaits action in the full House.

The issue was deeper than the deduction question. Democrats on the committee, who opposed the bill, said the real issue is why Republicans have cut child care funding. Republicans claimed that a Gov. Mark Dayton executive order, stalled in court, could force some child care providers into paying unions.

The real debate is about the executive order that Dayton issued late last year to allow in-home child care providers to join unions if they accept children in state-subsidized low-income families. Republicans put up a fight and some child care providers took the matter to state and federal courts.

A state judge delayed implementation of the Dayton order and scheduled a hearing for later this month to hear arguments about whether he should permanently overturn the order.

Falk and fellow Carlton County provider Judy Sanda were among six who testified for the bill, with no one going in front of the panel opposed to it.

Rep. Kathy Lohmer, R-Lake Elmo, wrote the bill, saying that state child care subsidies should not be used to pay union dues.

While nothing in the executive order requires a child care provider to join a union, that is a fear among providers and Republicans.

“No one is talking about forcing anyone to do anything,” Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester, said.

But Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, said Lohmer’s bill is designed to prevent a “slow creep” toward mandatory union dues.

About 8,000 Minnesotans care for others’ children in their homes and receive some state subsidies.

Ticket talk

Bills in the Legislature declare that people who buy tickets to entertainment events should own those tickets.

A Senate committee today considers a bill that would allow ticket-buyers to sell or give them away. The bill already is moving in the House.

Many ticket-sellers now do not allow tickets to be transferred.

The president of the Fan Freedom Project said Bruce Springsteen concert tickets that went on sale this week would include restrictions.

“Ticket buyers in New Jersey, Boston, Detroit and Washington who buy nontransferable paperless tickets will lose hundreds of dollars if their babysitter gets sick or business calls them out of town,” Jon Potter said. “Minnesota consumers deserve better.”

Business tax cuts?

Senate Republicans are pushing through a gradual phase-out of the statewide business property tax.

The plan is to “slowly and moderately roll it back,” said Sen. John Pederson, R-St. Cloud.

The $800 million-a-year tax would be phased out over 13 years, he said. The cut would be $31 million in the first year, Pederson said.

The Senate jobs committee unanimously passed the measure on a voice vote Tuesday, but it faces other committee stops before reaching the full Senate.

Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, said he could see problems if the tax were reduced but an ailing economy cuts state revenues.

Pederson and other Republicans said that lowing business taxes would go a long ways in convincing businesses to hire more workers.

No per diem

Minnesota representatives will not be allowed to receive “per diem” pay when the session takes a break this year.

The House Rules Committee voted to ban per diem, checks written to cover general daily expenses, any time the Legislature takes a three-day break.

The year’s first break begins Thursday for the House, a little more than one week into its 2012 session. The four-day vacation is meant to allow representatives to attend Tuesday night’s precinct caucuses.

Gov. Mark Dayton criticized lawmakers for taking off so much time, saying they just need to get in a car and drive to the caucuses.

Lawmakers plan to take off six days in early April for an Easter-Passover break. Many legislators say they want to adjourn for the year in April.