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Letter: Family Child Care Providers Representation Act is full of political ‘twisted logic’
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opinion Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

What problem does the proposed Family Child Care Providers Representation Act solve that couldn’t better be addressed through a voluntary association of family day care providers? Supposedly, the goal is to give family day care providers a stronger voice to lobby for increased reimbursement rates for subsidized care. However, the reimbursement rate is set in Minnesota Statute.

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By pushing this bill, the legislature is saying that the reimbursement rate that they have established is inadequate. Rather than revise the rate, they are proposing to amend the statute on unionization under the assumption that a union would be more effective than a business association at making the legislature do its job.

However, even if a union negotiated a more favorable rate, per existing statutes the agreement would still need to be ratified by the legislature, and if adoption of the contract requires the revision of existing law, the “employer” (i.e. the state) “shall make every reasonable effort to propose and secure” enactment of said law.

So to summarize, rather than simply change the reimbursement rate law, our legislature proposes to revise a different law to allow independent business owners to form a union to negotiate a contract with the state whereby the state would agree to revise the reimbursement rate law. Does this twisted logic make sense to anyone other than politicians?

The bill limits the right to vote on whether or not to form a union to only those family day care providers who have provided subsidized service in “the most recent 12-month period” – whether or not they still provide such a service at the time the vote takes place. Many day care providers only occasionally have subsidized children in their care, and may not be on the current list so they will be unable to vote.

If a union is established, in order to service subsidized families in the future they would have no choice but to pay the union dues. Also, if a family whose child is currently in their care would qualify for subsidies at a future date, the choice would be to pay the union dues or tell the family they have to find another day care. What kind of choice is that? I believe that this will result in fewer choices available for families that need the subsidy.

Calling self-employed day care providers “employees of the State” just because they have clients that qualify for subsidized day care expenses is ludicrous. The day care rate subsidy is not aimed at helping day care providers, instead it is intended to help low income parents afford care for their children so they can work. This is a laudable goal. If the legislature believes that it is not providing sufficient funding for this essential service, it is within their power to raise the reimbursement rate. — Tom Trowbridge, Detroit Lakes

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