Weather Forecast


Unionization measure on track for passage

ST. PAUL — An effort to allow child care workers and personal care assistants to join unions appears on the verge of a partisan victory.

Republicans oppose the Democrat-written measure, saying self-employed people such as those two groups should not be unionized. Democrats like the concept because, they say, it would allow the workers to negotiate better deals with the state.

The bill would apply to family child care providers, those who run day cares in their homes and receive state subsidies.

Also included would be individuals who provide services covered by Medical Assistance (Minnesota’s term for Medicare).

While Republicans claim that money from the state would be used to pay union dues, Democrats counter with the argument that the providers can decide how to use the money the state pays them.

No one would be forced to join unions.

The measure awaits a full House vote.

The Senate Finance Committee discussed the bill Friday, but did not vote on it. It will come up again soon.

“Freedom loving daycare providers need to get down here next week,” Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, tweeted.

Gov. Mark Dayton tried to allow the unionization on his own, but it was struck down by the courts.

Democrats took over the House and Senate this year and immediately brought back the plan.

Court not as open

Minnesota open-government activist Rich Neumeister complains that the public, most of the public anyway, will not be able to attend a Minnesota Supreme Court hearing Monday.

The hearing is at Roseville High School, one of two-a-year visits justices make to schools so students may learn about the judicial process.

The Monday issue is of special interest to Neumeister because it involves a lawsuit filed by the Timberjay newspaper of Tower, which claimed the St. Louis County school district contract with a company hired to manage a construction contract should be public.

The state Appeals Court ruled last fall that the contract must be made public, but the decision was appealed to the Supreme Court.

Neumeister’s complaint is that, unlike most court hearings, the general public will not be allowed in to the Roseville hearing.

“While it is commendable that the court has chosen to hold this hearing on a public access matter before a segment of the public, the public is ill-served if the court can pick and choose the individuals who can and cannot attend,” the open-government advocate wrote on his blog.

A court spokesman confirmed that most people will not be able to attend the hearing.

“The auditorium will be filled with over 600 students, faculty, the parties and guests, news media, etc.,” John Kostouros said.

“In other words, the room is full.”

However, Kostouros added, the courts will provide live webcasting of Monday’s hearing and a recording will be available on the Supreme Court Web site.

After Neumeister’s complaint, he received an invitation from one of the lawyers involved to attend the hearing.

Hollywood helps Franken

The Hill newspaper reports: “A slew of Hollywood celebrities, including Tim Meadows, Carl Reiner and Lily Tomlin, have donated this year to Sen. Al Franken’s re-election campaign.”

The Minnesota Democrat also got help from Minnesota’s Garrison Keillor, as well as “MacGyver” star Richard Dean Anderson and songwriter Paul Williams.

The former “Saturday Night Live” star’s campaign recently gave away a dinner with late-night television host Conan O’Brien.

Franken already has more than $2 million built up for his 2014 re-election campaign.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.