Women’s Economic Security Act to be heard this week

womens-economic-security-actThe Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA) is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture Finance Division on Monday, March 31 at Noon. On Wednesday, April 2, it is scheduled to be heard in House Ways & Means at 9 a.m.

The WESA’s omnibus bill numbers are House File (HF) 2536 and Senate File (SF) 2050. Bills included are:

  • Close the gender pay gap
    • Require private businesses that contract with the state to report on pay equity within their workforce (HF 2373 // SF 1806)
    • Protect employees from retaliation for discussion of compensation (HF 2274 // SF 1999)
  • Increase income for working women and their families by increasing the minimum wage to $9.50 (HF 92 // SF 3)
  • Expand access to high-quality, affordable childcare
    • Remove the $5,000 cap on early learning scholarships (HF 1880 // SF 1966)
    • Eliminate the waiting list for the Basic Sliding Fee program to serve all eligible families (SF 1858 // HF 2364)
    • Increase reimbursement rates for child care providers participating in the Child Care Assistance Program (SF 1858 // HF 2364)
  • Expand family and sick leave for working families
    • Provide paid sick and safe leave, allowing workers to earn 1 hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked (HF 2461 // SF 2105)
    • Expand unpaid leave under the Minnesota Parental Leave Act from 6 to 12 weeks (HF 2371 // SF 1956)
    • Add pregnancy to the Minnesota Parental Leave Act (HF 2371 // SF 1956)
  • Protect women from discrimination in the workplace
    • Add “family caregiver status” and “familial status to the list of protected classes for employment purposes (HF 2300 // SF 2006)
    • Increase enforcement of existing workplace protections for nursing mothers (HF 2259 // SF 2000)
    • Require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees such as more frequent breaks or transfer to a less strenuous position (HF 2371 // SF 1956)
  • Enhance protections for victims of violence
    • Allow victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking to use paid leave to obtain services (HF 2461 // SF 2105)
    • Improve housing protections for victims of violence (HF859 // SF771)
    • Expand unemployment insurance eligibility currently available to victims of domestic violence to include victims of stalking and sexual assault  (SF 2111 // HF 2366)
  • Encourage women in non-traditional, high-wage jobs
    • Provide incentives within DEED workforce development programs to integrate women into high-skill, high-wage, nontraditional jobs (HF 2291 // SF 2274)
  • Help women-owned small businesses succeed
    • Establish a pilot project for women entrepreneur’s business development in traditionally male-dominated and/or technology industries (HF 2243 // SF 2158)
  • Help older women be economically secure
    • Develop a Minnesota Retirement Savings Plan allowing small private sector employees without an employer-sponsored retirement plan to pool into a state-managed program (HF 2419 // SF 2078)
    • Protect spouse caregivers from financial hardship by updating Minnesota’s Medicaid spousal impoverishment law (HF 2241 // SF 2267)