Committee Summary, House Labor and Industry Finance, Jan. 17
By: McKenzie Kemper, Freelance Journalist
On Jan. 17 the House Labor and Industry Finance Committee met to discuss House File 19- Earned Sick and Safe Time Provided (Olson, DFL)- “Earned sick and safe time provided, report required, rulemaking authorized, and money appropriated.”.
The bill is designed to provide all employees in all positions with a bank of paid time off to be utilized when they or a loved one is sick.
“I’m bringing this bill because we all know that people get sick and the pandemic was a reminder that we need to stay home to heal. This bill will ensure that you can stay home to recover or take care of a sick loved one without worrying about missing wages. This is a common-sense proposal that has benefited numerous other states and localities. This is also a public health issue since many employees who don’t have paid Sick Time have to come in and work with the public,” said Representative Liz Olson (DFL – District 8A), the bill’s author.
Representative McDonald (GOP – District 29A) presented an A2 Amendment which removes part time employees from the bill because.
“We believe that this bill will be harmful to small Minnesota businesses, and this amendment would strike part time employees from the bill but keep full time employees,” said Rep. McDonald.
Representative Olson asked for a no vote on the amendment reminding members of the Committee that part-time employees are often caretakers of small children or elderly persons who need them to stay home when they are sick, and that the purpose of the bill is to ensure that all Minnesotans are able to provide for a loved one or themselves when they get sick.
“They tend to be women, primary caregivers, people of color. Exactly who we want to make sure we touch with this legislation,” said Rep. Olson.
The A2 Amendment did not prevail in Committee.
Representative McDonald next brought the A3 Amendment asking the Committee to, “Delete ‘1’ and insert ’50’ employees.
“This bill would be very costly to small businesses and businesses will consume this extra cost, and pay it forward to customers with inflation,” said Rep. McDonald.
Rep. Olson reminded committee members that within their packets there were two letters of support from two different small business owners for the bill, as it stood, and asked members for a no-vote.
The A3 amendment failed.
Rep. McDonald presented two more amendments including the A7 which was meant to remove ‘one designated non-family Member’ as a person that an employee could utilize earned sick and safe time to care for, as well as an A8 amendment which proposed dropping the $10,000 fine per infraction to $1,000 per infraction.
Both amendments were defeated.
Several testifiers spoke in support of HF19 and shared their personal experience in which this bill would have benefitted them greatly. Testifiers also shared how earned sick and safe time had actively benefitted them, and why they this bill to prevail.
One small business owner spoke in opposition of the bill sharing that he felt benefits were utilized to entice employees. He also said that he would have to pass the additional cost associated with the earned sick and safe time to his customers which he felt certain would have a negative impact on his businesses well-being.
A representative for the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce also spoke in opposition of the bill, as amended.
“We oppose this bill, as amended. Making Minnesota’s economy stronger and more vibrant is what our businesses look to our lawmakers for and this bill simply does not do that for our business.”
The final testifier was a representative from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Commerce who spoke in support of the bill.
Upon hearing all testifiers the vote was taken and with 8 Ayes, 5 Nays.
The Motion (to carry the bill) prevailed and it was referred to the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee. If you would like to track the progress of HF19 through Committee you can do by clicking this link: HF 19 Status in the House for the 93rd Legislature (2023 – 2024) (mn.gov).