The good, the bad, and the ugly: A small taste of 2011 Minnesota House Legislation

We know very well that the dire budget situation, lack of stable well-paying employment, access to affordable education, transportation, food security, personal and community safety, and so much more are critical to our State’s future, our families’ futures, and women.  Are they “women’s issues”?  YES.  EVERYTHING IS.

Today, though, let’s look at a “good”, and – based on how you choose to view it – a “bad” and/or “ugly” piece of legislation moving through the Minnesota House…and of significant note is that only the “good” DOES NOT have a Senate companion (huh?).  We’re working on that with our Senators…call your Senator, too.


House File 556 (H.F. 556)

  • Summary: Juvenile prostitutes in need of protection or services provisions amended, sexually exploited youth defined, prostitution crime penalty assessments increased, and distribution of the assessment amended; prostitution laws provisions clarified and recodified, and definitions modified; money appropriated to the commissioner of public safety to develop a statewide victim services model.  Basically, juveniles who are trafficked and prostituted are VICTIMS, not criminals, and this bill will ensure they are treated as such and are protected.  There is there is far more child and teen prostitution and trafficking in MN than people realize.
  • Passed out of a previous committee, and today was heard in the Judiciary Policy and Finance Committee [click here for links to watch the testimony/hearing and testimony on related bills – worth your time; Heather Boyum is amazingly brave] and PASSED.
  • Bill sponsored by Steve Smith (R-Mound) with 19 bi-partisan co-sponsors.
  • Again, there is NO SENATE COMPANION (several NOW members have approached their Senators to introduce).
  • Good non-House discussion on the bill: MPR’s Midmorning with guest host Cathy Wurzer aired “Sex trafficking on the rise in Minnesota” at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, March 8 with guests Suzanne Koepplinger, executive director of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center and Jeff Bauer, Director of public policy for the Family Partnership.  Find it online and listen in. It is valuable for Minnesota.


Abortion bills

  • H.F. 201 and H.F. 391 [sponsored by Peggy Scott, R-Andover]: – Summary: State-sponsored health program abortion funding limited. [essentially will overturn Doe v. Gomez, which is the law in Minnesota]. 
    • H.F. 0201 has a total of 28 sponsors (including Rep. Scott).
    • H.F. 0391 has a total of 35 sponsors (including Rep. Scott).
    • Surprise!  Late this afternoon, the House decided to add H.F. 201 to their list of bills to receive a hearing, leaving little or no time for action by those who may want to testify or protest this action.  Click here for the schedule of today’s bill hearings in the Minnesota House Health and Human Services Reform Committee.
    • DFLers co-sponsoring (one on 201; three on 391):
      • Gene Pelowski Jr. (31A, Winona) [H.F. 0201]
      • Larry Hosch (14B, St. Joseph) [H.F. 0391]
      • Lyle Koenen (20B, Clara City) [H.F. 0391]
      • Mary Murphy (6B, Hermantown) [H.F. 0391]
  • H.F. 936 and H.F. 1042 [sponsored by Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville]: Summary: Abortions at or after 20 weeks gestational age prohibited unless exceptions apply, and civil and criminal penalties provided.
    • Hearing: The bill will be heard on Wednesday, March 16 in the Health and Human Services Reform Committee at 2:30 p.m., Room 200.  Can you be there?  Will you call your Representative?
    • DFLer co-sponsoring: John Ward (12A, Brainerd)
    • We must fight this “fetal pain” (personhood) bill!

Pay Equity bills

  • H.F. 519 and H.F. 698 [sponsored by Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa]: Summary:  Local government comparable worth requirements repealed.
    • This will undo the public employee pay equity standards that have been in place (and WORKING!) since 1984.  Minnesota’s pay equity laws ensure jobs performed by women are not consistently paid less than jobs performed by men of comparable work value.
    • Pay Equity Coalition of Minnesota (PECOM) and the Minnesota Women’s Consortium are very much against these bills and the Senate companions introduced by Michael Jungbauer (R-East Bethel).   MN NOW is signed on with PECOM as a supporter of pay equity, and a group that opposes repealing pay equity laws.
    • So far, there are no co-sponsors to the House or Senate Bills.
    • Senator Ray Vandeveer (R-Forest Lake) will hold an informational hearing on the comparable worth bills on Wednesday, March 23 at 1 p.m. in Room 112.

Now…make those calls!  Schedule those visits!  Write those letters!  And if your Representative or Senator did something you like, don’t forget to personally thank her or him and explain what precisely it is that pleased you and why (encouragement is powerful).

For equality and with gratitude for all you do,

Jessica K. Trites Rolle, MN NOW Legislative Coordinator

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