OESW At Risk, Act Now

Tina Smith and DFL women legPosted in part as Minnesota State Coordinator for US Women Connect.

Let’s keep learning the INCONVENIENT FACTS about rural women, single moms, older women, and women of color – and maintain a nonpartisan resource with solid info about all 2.7 million women and girls in Minnesota.

Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith, Governor Mark Dayton, and 24 women legislators spoke out on May 11 about the bill passed by House and Senate Republicans, which eliminates the staff for the legislative Office on the Economic Status of Women (OESW).   What a change from the days when there were only 6 women, grand total, in the legislature!  But still, women make up only 32% of the 201 state legislators, down from 34% after previous election. At the press conference, the women also opposed the pre-emption bill hurting local minimum wage & paid leave, and another bill killing campaign finance reform – both of which have disproportionately negative effect on women. Governor Dayton has vetoed these bills, but  constituents must keep the pressure on to be certain this vital office continues to give all of us the FACTS needed to improve women’s status.

Note that yes, sadly, it is women “across the aisle” who oppose the OESW along with others. Sometimes they say “women have achieved so much in the past 40 years – not needed any more” – but YOU know we are far from equality in representation, in economic security, in so many ways.  By the way, OESW is a ONE-person office, and eliminating it does nothing for the state budget.  Sometimes they say, “Oh we are just trying to strengthen it by supporting an advisory committee” – but hello, an advisory committee with no staff cannot undertake vital research or Greater Minnesota listening sessions as OESW staff have done. So – will you make sure YOUR state legislator knows your view on this?  Visit oesw.leg.mn to download substantive reports.

Don’t know who is your state Representative and state Senator?  Please, please find out through the state “district finder”.  Many legislators will be voting whether to again pass the bill which eliminates OESW staff.

And the conference committees will be meeting again to consider changes to the bills they passed before – by the way, for this and many other provisions, there never was a public hearing or public testimony, provisions just inserted willy nilly.  So please consider leaving messages for the members of this conference committee:  KEEP staffing for the Office on the Economic Status of Women, in the State Government Finance Omnibus Budget Bill.

HOUSE members (all Republicans)

Rep. Sarah Anderson, District 44A, Plymouth, 651-296-5511.

Rep. Tim O’Driscoll, 13B, Sartell/St Cloud, 651-296-7808.

Rep. Bob Dettmer, 39A, Forest Lake. 651-296-4124

Rep. Kelly Fenton, 53B, Woodbury. 651-296-1147

Rep. Jim Nash, 47A, Waconia. 651-296-4282

SENATE members (4 of 5 are Republicans)

Sen. Bruce Anderson, District 29, Buffalo. 651-296-5981

Sen. Mark Koran, 32, North Branch. 651-296-5419

Sen. Dan Hall, 56, Burnsville. 651-296-5975

Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, 30, Big Lake. (651) 296-5655.

Sen. Carolyn Laine, 41, Columbia Heights. PLEASE THANK HER.   (651) 296-4334. 

Additional calls to THANK, besides Sen. Laine (above) who spoke at the pro-OESW press conference:

Sen. Sandy Pappas, St Paul, convened the press conference, 615-296-1802

Rep. Connie Bernardy, New Brighton, defended OESW, 651-296-5510

Rep. Rena Moran, St Paul, usefulness of OESW data to her authorship of the Women Of Color Opportunities Act, 651-296-5158

Thanks for your help with this, and please stay tuned.

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” – especially when drastic changes are inserted into important bills seemingly in the middle of the night!





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