Union attempt ruled unconstitutionalPublished 7:19am Sunday, April 15, 2012
Column: Capitol Conversations, by Rich Murray
Last week, a Ramsey County judge struck down Gov. Mark Dayton’s attempt to unionize private, in-home child care providers in Minnesota, calling the move “unconstitutional.”
You’ll recall from a previous update my concern with the governor’s action. Under the executive order he issued late last year, the governor prohibited more than 60 percent of providers statewide from casting a ballot. Of the 11,000 providers across the state, Dayton wanted to limit this election to the 4,287 licensed in-home child care providers who currently receive state subsidies.
This left many day care providers wondering how unionization might impact them in the future, particularly since most of them would not have a voice in the process, while parents wondered why government suddenly needed to step in and tell providers how to run their business.
These worries have now disappeared with the court ruling, as Judge Dale Lindman found “the governor is attempting to circumvent the legislative process and unionize childcare providers by executive order, rather than by adhering to a valid legislative process. In doing so, the governor has improperly superseded the Legislature’s authority and violated the separation of powers clause as set forth in the Minnesota Constitution.”
Lawmaking is a legislative function, and I have not seen an appetite by any representative to tell day care providers what hours to work, how many youngsters to care for, and whether or not they should hire people. As I’ve said before, day care providers are small business owners, and lawmakers don’t tell business owners how to do their jobs or force them to join a union, so I’m pleased with this outcome.
Bonding bills ready for debate
Next week, I expect the House will debate two separate capital investment bills which fund needed construction projects. The first is a $221 million proposal that would renovate and repair our State Capitol. This building has been ignored for far too long, and we have now reached a critical stage where repairs must be made or problems to this 110-year-old structure will intensify significantly.
The second proposal would spend $280 million on statewide needs. This includes $20 million for local bridge repair and rehabilitation, and $10 million for local road improvements. It also includes $5 million for Greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure Grants, as well as $9 million to construct a new building addition to the Hormel Institute. This is a proposal I’m co-authoring as some of the job creation will likely filter into Albert Lea and the surrounding communities.
Some have said the House capital investment bill should spend more on construction projects, but it’s worth noting we passed a $500 million bonding bill last session as part of our budget agreement. Bonding bills are traditionally approved during even numbered years at the Legislature.
Governor signs one bill, vetoes another
Last week, Gov. Dayton signed an important jobs bill that continues to speed up Minnesota’s environmental permitting process.
The law requires the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to notify project applicants within 30 days if their permit has been completed. If it’s not finished, the MPCA must outline the problems and how they can be solved.
Prior to last year, many businesses chose not to expand in Minnesota because it took months, and sometimes more than a year, to finish the permit process. This lack of action ultimately cost thousands of Minnesotans a job, so I’m pleased we continue to reform this procedure and are removing a barrier toward business expansion in Minnesota.
Dayton vetoed a measure I supported that would have taken $430 million from state cash reserves and paid back the remaining amount borrowed from schools last session, while beginning to pay back the $2 billion the previous Legislature borrowed from them during the last biennium.
With $1 billion sitting in reserves and rainy day accounts, and our economy continuing to improve by the month, I thought now would be a good time to eliminate last session’s shift extension and whittle away at even more of the projected debt to our schools.
Roughly two weeks remain before the end of session, and I remain hopeful that Dayton and legislative leaders will work out a compromise to the job creation and government reform legislation the House has approved recently. As always, I promise to keep you updated on any progress.
Have a question or concern? Constituents in District 27A including communities in Freeborn and Mower counties can write to me at 439 State Office Building, 100 Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155. Or call me at 651-296-8216 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rich Murray, R-Albert Lea, is the state representative for House District 27A.