Sandy Pappas for Senate

Supporter of collective bargaining.

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Senator Pappas was a chief sponsor of the historic Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA) which strengthens workplace protections and flexibility for working women and for pregnant and nursing mothers, and   reduces the gender pay gap through increased enforcement of equal pay laws. She was also chief sponsor of legislation to give the state’s home care and child care workers the chance to choose collective bargaining rights when their wages and benefits are determined and funded by the state.

Throughout her legislative career, Senator Pappas has been an out-spoken and advocate for women, workers, children, immigrants and our neighbor-hoods. Sandy was named a champion for racial equity for her efforts in legislation addressing racial equity. Over the years, she has passed legislation to prohibit the sex trafficking of women and children while providing safe housing and services, to allow local children of undocumented residents to attend Minnesota state colleges at a resident rate (the Minnesota Dream Act), to protect the Mississippi River, and to provide state funds for the dignified housing at the new Dorothy Day Center. Sandy also co-sponsored the law that allows microbreweries to create tap rooms – opening the door for Tin Whiskers, Bad Weather, and Wabasha brewery tap rooms in our neighborhoods.  


Chief Author Legislation Accomplishments:

Working Parents Act

  • Given an informational hearing in Senate Jobs Committee – paid family leave was included as a study in the Omnibus Jobs Bill (Special Session HF 3)
  • Other components: 
    • Earned sick & safe leave: Allow an employee to earn 1 hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 72 hours in a year.  For businesses with fewer than 21 employees, those employees can accrue up to 40 hours in a calendar year.  
    • Wage theft protection:  Increases enforcement and penalties for employers who fail to pay their employees the minimum wage, overtime, tips, or wages generally.  Allows any person or organization to file a complaint with DOLI against an employer for wage theft.  Requires businesses who enter into a subcontract to make sure the subcontractor has sufficient funds to comply with all local, state, and federal laws regarding labor or services to be provided.  
    • Tip protection:  Prevents employers from deducting debit or credit card fees from an employee's tips.
    • Fair scheduling:  Requires employers to provide employees with 21 days notice of their work schedules.  Provides "predictability pay" to an employee when an employer changes an employee's schedule or cancels a shift.  
  • Benefits to women: (from Star Trib Article) - Minnesota’s new minimum wage is $6,172 below the annual wage a single adult in the Twin Cities needs for a basic living. If you’re a single mom with one child, $9.50 an hour falls $32,176 short of the $51,936 annual wage, or $24.97 an hour, needed to cover basic expenses. Even a two-parent, one-child family needs both parents to work full-time at $15.69 an hour to meet basic needs. 
    • More than 1.1 million Minnesota workers have no paid sick leave. Further, whether you have paid sick leave varies by race, ethnicity and occupation. About 60 percent of whites and Asians in Minnesota have paid sick leave, compared with 50 percent of black Minnesota workers, and 40 percent of our state’s Hispanic workers. In 2013, 79 percent of Minnesota’s food preparation and serving-related employees had no paid sick leave. What do workers do when they or a loved one they take care of is sick? Workers with no paid sick leave are more likely to go to work with a contagious illness. Parents with no paid sick leave are nearly twice as apt to send their children to school or day care sick. Low-income workers take leave without pay — or are fired for taking leave; 3.5 days of pay lost to illness are, on average, equivalent to a family’s monthly grocery budget. The Minnesota Department of Health recently released a report on the impact of paid sick and family leave on the health of Minnesotans. Their research found that, from 2004-2013, sick food workers in Minnesota were the source or likely source for 208 foodborne outbreaks and almost 3,000 documented illnesses, and that the spread of diseases associated with ill workers also occurs in long-term care facilities, schools and child-care facilities


Minnesota Secure Choice Retirement Savings Plan 2014 Update: 

Minnesota Secure Choice Retirement Savings Plan establishes a retirement savings plan that meets the requirements to qualify for favorable tax treatment that applies to IRAs.  This plan is not an employee benefit plan under the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

Latest Update from Mary Jo George: Workshop on Sept 28th with proponents and opponents who are being interviewed. 

Women are more likely to work in part-time jobs that don't qualify for a retirement plan. And working women are more likely than men to interrupt their careers to take care of family members. Therefore, they work fewer years and contribute less toward their retirement, resulting in lower lifetime savings. If you work and if you qualify, join a retirement plan now. Of the 62 million wage and salaried women (age 21 to 64) working in the United States, just 45 percent participated in a retirement plan. Remember, even small amounts can earn interest and add up over time. On average, a female at age 65 can expect to live another 20 years, 2 years longer than a man the same age. Savings can increase a woman's chances of having enough money to last during her retirement. By and large, women invest more conservatively than men. Choose carefully where you put your money and learn how to improve your investment returns.


Cooperative Divorce

An administrative alternative to the court divorce system that supports couples to make their own decisions and act with respect and fairness.  It is divorce without the baggage of courts. It’s a voluntary alternative to the traditional court-based divorce. It begins with an online orientation that describes the principles, safeguards, and procedures for Cooperative Private Divorce. The divorcing spouses submit an Intent to Divorce form to a state agency outside the court system, with records kept private. They may choose to employ any advocates and professional support they need. Any time after a 90 day waiting period, they submit a Declaration of Divorce form with their agreements on the topics involved in their divorce.  There is no third-party review or judicial approval of the agreements other than to ensure that the filing process is complete. They then receive a Certificate of Divorce.  All agreements are kept private. They are responsible for documents needed to implement their agreements. They may consensually modify their agreements at any time. Either spouse can decide to access the court at any time.


Divorce Certificate

This bill requires the court to create a certificate of dissolution to accompany a judgment and decree in divorce cases. The court may require the parties or their attorneys to prepare the form and requires the court administrator to provide copies to any party when requested


Ethnic Councils Bill

Creates the Minnesota Council on Latino Affairs, the Minnesota African Heritage Council, and the Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans. Provides that a member who missed more than half of the council meetings during a 12-month period automatically is removed from the council, and that a member appointed by the governor may be removed by a vote of three of the four legislative members of the council. Training: requires members appointed by the Governor to attend orientation training within six months of appointments, or be removed from the council. Included in the Omnibus State Departments Bill.


Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution was drafted by Alice Paul, a suffragist leader and founder of the National Woman’s Party. The ERA was introduced into every session of Congress between 1923 and 1972, when it was passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification. A deadline for state ratification of March 22, 1979 was set. Before the deadline, 35 of the 38 necessary states ratified the amendment. The ERA was ratified by the Minnesota State Legislature on February 12, 1973. In 1978, a joint resolution of Congress extended the ratification deadline to June 30, 1982, but no further states ratified the amendment before the second deadline passed, leaving it three states short of the threshold. Many organizations dispute the validity and the permanence of the ratification deadline and continue to work at the federal and state level for adoption of the ERA. This resolution would be an official statement by the Minnesota Legislature that would call upon Congress to remove the deadline for ratification of the ERA. 

Bill was passed by the Senate 55-6 – awaiting hearing in the House next Session.

Other issues:

My continued advocacy for universal pre-school.  I was an early advocate for all day kindergarten and co-author of the school readiness early childhood program.

  • From Special Session: Early Learning Scholarships: ($17.5 million increase over H.F. 844 conference committee report as passed): The agreement provides additional funding for early learning scholarships above the $30.75 million additional funded in the conference committee bill. Pathway II scholarship policy provisions remain (House wanted to eliminate that category). Brings total funding for scholarships to $104 million which includes the base funding from FY13-14. Total increase $48.25 million
  • Increased funding in school readiness $30.75 million ($62 million Senate bill). The School Readiness program will continue to provide quality public school pre-K to Minnesota children. The bill does not contain the Senate’s funding amount ($62 million) that would have expanded school readiness opportunities to 21,000 more Minnesota children at no cost to parents.
  • Universal high-quality pre-K and child care would also throw a much-needed raft to families across America that are struggling to stay afloat while footing costly child care bills, missing work to provide care, or sending their children—our nation’s future innovators and workforce—to low-quality care centers.
  • These programs provide important benefits to working parents, especially working mothers. The prohibitively high costs of private child care and the dearth of quality, accessible public providers’ means that parents are often left to choose between the lesser of two evils: low-quality care or forgoing needed pay to stay at home and care for a child themselves.


Safe Harbor for Sex-Trafficked Youth

During the 2013 and 2014 legislative sessions, Minnesota took significant steps forward in the fight to end child sex trafficking with investments in safe shelter and housing, training for law enforcement personnel, comprehensive services for sexually exploited youth, and a statewide infrastructure to connect victims to services. The first several months of implementation work since Minnesota’s Safe Harbor Act took effect on August 1, 2014 have seen considerable progress and also revealed substantial remaining gaps in our Safe Harbor / No Wrong Door system. The purpose of this memo is to highlight critical areas for additional investment in the 2015 legislative session.

Implementation to Date:

  • $1.5 million in shelter and housing grants (through DHS) supporting 4 projects statewide and providing partial operating funds for 25 dedicated emergency shelter and transitional/long term housing beds.
  • Safe Harbor Director hired and housed in the Minnesota Department of Health.
  • 8 Regional Navigator positions filled throughout the state.
  • Training for law enforcement professionals (approximately 1,000 trained to date).
  • Protocol development for a variety of disciplines encountering sexually exploited youth.
  • $1 million in comprehensive service grants to 13 projects around the state.
  • Total 2015 Legislative Session Request: $8.3 million to fully implement the Safe Harbor / No Wrong Door system.

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