Legislative Notebook: GOP Passes Child Care Union Dues Limits

Supporters of child care union dues limits

State subsidies paid to Minnesota’s home-based child care providers could not be used to pay union dues under a bill the Republican-controlled Legislature Monday sent to Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.

Senators passed the bill 37-25, following a similar House action a few weeks ago.

“Our bill simply protects money that was meant for our kids,” Sen. Ted Lillie, R-Lake Elmo, said.

The bill is in reaction to a Dayton executive order that would have allowed unions to organize owners of in-home day care centers that receive state subsidies. A judge overturned the order as unconstitutional, so the election has not been held.

Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, said Dayton made it clear that no one would be forced to join a union if the vote were held and it passed, so the bill is not needed.

“This is a waste of time,” Marty said.

Child care provider Heather Falk of Cloquet delivered a letter signed by 638 fellow providers to Dayton’s office moments after senators approved the bill she favors.

They urged Dayton to sign the bill into law because it would keep child care available for families receiving Child Care Assistance Program subsidies.

“Many child care providers now state they will make a personal business decision to discontinue offering care to current and future CCAP funded families if union dues or fees are part of the program,” the letter said. “Some have already stopped accepting new CCAP families because they believe it is only a matter of time before fees are associated with the program.”

Supporters said they have not talked to Dayton about the bill, but Lillie said he would “reach out to him.”

Rep. Kathy Lohmer, R-Lake Elmo, said she is trying to set up a Dayton appointment on several issues and hopes it comes soon enough that she can talk to him about the child care bill, too.

Money transfer wanted

Two Minnesota lawmakers are upset that state and federal officials have not stepped in to reopen money-transfer services for Somali American families.

Rep. Karen Clark and Sen. Jeff Hayden, both DFL-Minneapolis, said Republicans who control the Legislature have not held hearings on the issue, but they scheduled their own for Tuesday morning.

Many people who have moved to the United States from Somalia send money back home for family members.

“Somalia is in the throes of a terrible famine that is claiming the lives of thousands of people,” Clark said. “This is not just an issue of fair policy, but one of a humanitarian effort. The situation is dire.”

In December, banks used by Somali American families to transfer money suspended the service after two Minnesotans were found guilty of wiring money to a terrorist group.

Dads’ rights increased

Fathers would have more time with their children under a bill awaiting a House vote.

On a divided voice vote, the House Ways and Means Committee Monday approved a bill that could give each parent at least 45.1 percent parenting time, up from the current 25 percent.

Rep. Peggy Scott, R-Andover, said most custody issues are worked out without action, but there are times when judges are needed. Her bill would give judges guidance.

A similar Senate bill awaits a committee hearing.