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Rep. Marquart favors equal pay, minimum wage increase

Rep. Paul Marquart of Dilworth

On Thursday, a bill that aims to improve working conditions and pay for women in Minnesota was heard in a State House of Representatives committee for the first time.

The Women’s Economic Security Act, as it is called, would help ensure that women start earning as much as men — not just in government, but in the private sector as well.

Though he was not directly involved in the committee hearing, State Rep. Paul Marquart (D-Dilworth) said he supports its premise wholeheartedly.

“It’s taking a look at a variety of laws that would strengthen the quality of life for women,” Marquart said on Monday. “It would level the playing field a little.”

Some of those areas encompassed by the bill include:

  • Closing the gender pay gap, by requiring private businesses that contract with the state to report on pay equity within their workforce.
  • Increasing income for working women and their families by raising the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour.
  • Expanding access to high quality, affordable child care.
  • Expanding the scope of family and sick leave for working families under the Minnesota Parental Leave Act.
  • Enhancing protections for victims of domestic violence.
  • Encouraging the employment of women in non-traditional, high-wage jobs, and support for women-owned small businesses.

One of the more controversial aspects of these provisions is raising the minimum wage for all Minnesotans, which Marquart also supports.

“I certainly understand the pros and cons, and the impact on some businesses, but I think overall, when everything is looked at, what’s going to happen is that it’s going to expand the purchasing power of people in Minnesota,” he said.

The last time the minimum wage was raised in Minnesota was back in 2005, Marquart said, and in the nine years since then, the purchasing power of that minimum wage has greatly decreased.

“And something else to consider… in this great state of Minnesota, no one who works 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year should be living in poverty,” Marquart said. “It’s time to raise it.”

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

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