Minnesota will spend $3 million in fiscal years 2023-2024 to help Minnesotans who have served their prison sentences reenter the workforce, the state announced Friday.
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development said it received up to $10 million in First Step Initiative funding from the U.S. Department of Labor and Department of Justice to support formerly incarcerated individuals transition back to the community.
“I wandered the streets aimlessly, never knowing where my next meal would come from.”
That’s how a man named Riley summarized being homeless, addicted, and unemployed before he came to Watered Gardens, a mission in southwest Missouri.
A Yelp executive said women need access to abortions to be successful at work as the company announced it would fund travel expenses for employees traveling out of state for abortions.
“The ability to control your reproductive health, and whether or when you want to extend your family, is absolutely fundamental to being able to be successful in the workplace,” Miriam Warren, Yelp’s chief diversity officer, told The New York Times.
Democrats announced a plan Monday to promote police officer recruitment that mirrors proposals of Gov. Tim Walz and Republicans.
House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler authored the bill, HF 3581, which was developed in consultation with the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association, Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, and Minnesota Department of Public Safety. He said at a news conference announcing the bill that law enforcement leaders want to recruit officers who reflect the community, have a high social-emotional set of skills and are committed to community services, but they’re struggling to do that.
“[The bill] is built on the premise that Minnesota can recruit, can hire, can train and can retain the kinds of police officers who reflect our communities’ values,” Winkler said.
Nearly 12% of police officers were assaulted while on duty in 2020, according to annual state level data collected by the FBI. Alaska reported the greatest percentage, California the greatest number.
A total of 60,105 officers were assaulted nationwide, with the overwhelming majority assaulted, and injured, by assailants’ hands and feet.
Nationwide, 26% of assaults in 2020 involved a deadly weapon that wasn’t a firearm; 5% involved a firearm.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the Biden administration again Thursday, this time for requiring federal contractors to pay a $15 an hour minimum wage. It’s the 21st lawsuit the attorney general has filed against the administration. Joining him are the attorneys general from Louisiana and Mississippi.
“The president has no authority to overrule Congress, which has sole authority to set the minimum wage and which already rejected a minimum wage increase,” Paxton argues.
Their lawsuit follows one filed last December by the Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of outdoor adventure guides, Arkansas Valley Adventures (AVA), a licensed river outfitter regulated by the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife, and the Colorado River Outfitters Association (CROA). The CROA, a nonprofit trade association, represents more than 150 independent operators who primarily conduct business on federal lands using special use permits through Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management.
Minnesota Senate Republicans pitched a 2022 “top priority” $65 million law enforcement recruiting package Wednesday.
The proposals – dubbed the “Creating Opportunities in Public Safety” (C.O.P.S) program – would incentivize law enforcement recruitment statewide to address a police officer shortage, Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, said in a news conference.
“Across the state, we’ve been hearing from law enforcement agencies that are struggling with staff,” Miller said. “Law Enforcement officers are leaving the force in far higher numbers than they are applying to join the force and it’s hitting a critical stage for their ability to provide for safe communities,” “This isn’t an accident. These losses are a direct result of the ‘Defund the Police’ and anti-police rhetoric, that has demonized police officers and left them personally demoralized and their agencies diminished in size and standing.”
Many Minnesota schools are struggling to find substitute teachers.
State Sen. and gubernatorial candidate Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, on Friday posted on her campaign website her proposed changes to substitute teacher license regulations, which she claims would increase the pool of short-call substitute teachers and help schools stay open.
Currently, substitute teachers in Minnesota must have a bachelor’s degree (or U.S equivalent as verified by a foreign evaluation) in any field; be enrolled in a teacher preparation program; have completed student teaching, or, for candidates in career and technical education (CTE) fields, have professional certification, associate’s degree, or at least five years of relevant work experience in the CTE field, according to the state application. If they meet those qualifications, they can teach up to 15 consecutive days per teaching assignment. Their license is valid for three years. Currently tiered licensure teachers can use their teaching license.
Legislators are considering changes to Missouri’s teacher and non-certified school employee pension plans to alleviate pandemic-related teacher and staff shortages.
HB2114, sponsored by Rep. Rusty Black, R-Chillicothe, will reduce restrictions on pensions if a retired public school teacher returns to the classroom or to a non-teaching position in a public school. The legislation also increases from two to four years the length of time a retired teacher or retired non-certified public school employee can work while still receiving their pension.
During testimony before the House pensions committee, Rep. Black, the committee vice chairman, said similar legislation was passed by the House and died in the Senate last year as the legislative session ended in May. He said the legislation simplifies and improves the amount retirees can earn before their pensions are restricted.
Families who get their child in the 5- to 11-year-old age group vaccinated for COVID-19 are eligible for a new round of $200 incentives, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced Tuesday.
Families will receive one $200 VISA gift card per child who receives both doses between Jan. 1 and Feb. 28, the news release said. Registration for the gift cards, which is possible following completion of the series, opens at 10 a.m. Jan. 24 and closes at 11:59 p.m. Feb. 28.
“In light of the Omicron variant, there is a new sense of urgency in our response, and we are doing whatever we can to encourage Minnesotans to get their vaccine and keep themselves and their communities safe,” Minnesota Department of Health Information Officer Doug Schultz told The Center Square in an emailed statement Thursday. “Getting as many eligible Minnesotans vaccinated as possible is critical to helping curb the spread of COVID-19 and keep Minnesota families safe.”
Iowans are waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for businesses with at least 100 employees. In the meantime, they’re moving ahead with actions of their own.
Iowa Department of Education Communications Director Heather Doe told The Center Square in an emailed statement that since Iowa is a state-plan state, the Iowa Division of Labor typically enforces workplace safety in Iowa instead of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The state is required to notify OSHA whether it will adopt a given Emergency Temporary Standard or provide notice it will not adopt it because its standards are as effective as the new federal standard. Iowa needed to respond to the standard by Jan. 7.
Iowa Labor Commissioner Rod Roberts did so, saying that the Hawkeye State will not adopt or enforce the mandate.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ordered a new unionization election at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, ruling that the company violated federal labor law during the first election.
“Today’s decision confirms what we were saying all along – that Amazon’s intimidation and interference prevented workers from having a fair say in whether they wanted a union in their workplace – and as the Regional Director has indicated, that is both unacceptable and illegal,” Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) President Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement Monday.
“Amazon workers deserve to have a voice at work, which can only come from a union,” he continued.
Seattle-based Starbucks announced it will increase hourly wages next year as the coffee giant faces the dual pressures of unionization attempts and staffing shortages.
According to a press release from the company, starting in January of 2022, hourly employees with two or more years of service could see a 5% raise and those with five or more years of service could see a 10% raise.
By the summer of next year, the company says its average hourly pay will be $17, up from the current average of $14. Employees will make between $15 and $23 an hour across the country, depending on location and tenure.
The press release did not address what impact the moves will have on coffee prices.
Some 4,800 state employees in Washington have already requested medical or religious exemptions from Gov. Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
According to information released this week by the state, those requests amount to nearly 8% of the 60,000 state workers who fall under Inslee’s 24 cabinet departments. As of Sept. 6, less than 50% of all employees in those agencies were verified as being fully vaccinated.
Inslee last month issued an executive order that all state employees, as well as K-12 and state university staff, must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18 or face dismissal.
Afghan women were reportedly forced into marriages with men who were eligible for evacuation from the country, CNN reported Thursday.
U.S. officials notified the State Department about some Afghan women and girls showing up with men pretending to be their husbands or after being forced into marriages with men eligible for evacuation, two sources familiar with the matter reportedly told CNN.
Some women are reportedly resorting to these unusual relationships in order to flee Taliban rule, CNN reported. Families of Afghan women at a transit hub in the United Arab Emirates arranged for such marriages at the Kabul international airport in Afghanistan so that women may leave, according to CNN.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell tried to calm lawmakers’ fears about rising inflation but also said it would probably remain elevated for months to come.
Testifying before Congress this week, Powell said the Federal Reserve was willing to step in to address the situation, but that inflation should level out next year.
“As always, in assessing the appropriate stance of monetary policy, we will continue to monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook and would be prepared to adjust the stance of monetary policy as appropriate if we saw signs that the path of inflation or longer-term inflation expectations were moving materially and persistently beyond levels consistent with our goal,” Powell said in his prepared testimony.
Los Angeles school teacher Glenn Laird has been a union stalwart for almost four decades. He served as a co-chair of his school’s delegation to United Teachers Los Angeles and proudly wore union purple on the picket line.
But Laird is now suing to leave UTLA and demanding a refund of the dues the union has collected since his resignation request. His turning point came in July 2020 when the union, the second largest teachers union in the country, joined liberal activists to demand that Los Angeles defund the police in response to Black Lives Matter demonstrations.
More than 60 House Democrats who fled Austin Monday to prevent a vote on election reforms will be arrested when they return to Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott said.
“Once they step back into the state of Texas, they will be arrested and brought to the Texas capital and we will be conducting business,” Abbott said.
The 67 Democratic lawmakers flew on chartered flights to Washington D.C. in protest of proposed legislation seeking to reduce the chances of fraud in future elections. The legislation is one of a number of measures being considered during a July special session called by Abbott.
The president of the largest union of health care workers in the U.S. says it will fight companies requiring its members to have mandatory COVID-19 shots as a condition of employment.
The announcement came one day after Houston Methodist announced that 153 employees had been fired or resigned for refusing to get the shots as a condition of employment. Those suing argue requiring employees to receive a vaccine approved only through Emergency Use Authorization violates federal law. After a recent court dismissal, their attorney vowed to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court.
George Gresham, president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, is weighing the organization’s legal options.
After the cancellation of the Keystone XL Pipeline struck a blow to the oil industry, energy jobs activists are pushing back by warning of increased costs and touting the benefits of transporting oil via pipeline.
TC Energy Corporation announced on Wednesday that it was cancelling the Keystone XL Pipeline less than five months after President Joe Biden rescinded a vital permit for the pipeline. The cancellation ends an over 12-year battle by activists from both sides over the oil pipeline. The pipeline would have started in the Canadian province of Alberta ultimately ending in Nebraska.
In a statement François Poirier, President and CEO of TC Energy Corporation, expressed disappointment.
Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday announced the end of Minnesota’s statewide mask requirement starting Friday, aligning Minnesota with new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on face coverings.
“So, those peacetime emergencies are done and the business mitigations are coming to an end. I want to be clear it’s not the end of the pandemic, but it is the end of the pandemic for a lot of vaccinated folks,” he told reporters.
Minnesotans who aren’t fully vaccinated are strongly recommended to wear face coverings indoors.
The Biden Administration sent some stock prices tumbling and left small businesses worried after taking sides on a hotly contested labor issue that critics say could threaten the jobs of millions of independent workers and thousands of small businesses.
In his address to the nation Wednesday evening, President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass legislation that would ban the use of freelance workers in most instances.
A report from the freelance site UpWork found that about 59 million gig workers make up $1.2 trillion of the U.S. economy.
Rising Republican star U.S. Rep. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is sponsoring a new measure that would give unprecedented tax cuts to parents with children, and now he is saying his bill is on the front line of the nation’s “culture war.”
The plan in question would give a fully refundable tax credit of $12,000 for married parents and $6,000 for single parents who have children under the age of 13.
“Starting a family and raising children should not be a privilege only reserved for the wealthy,” Hawley said. “Millions of working people want to start a family and would like to care for their children at home, but current policies do not respect these preferences. American families should be supported, no matter how they choose to care for their kids.”
With more relaxed restrictions and the promise of warmer months ahead, businesses are struggling to find employees to come back to work, even after raising wages and offering flexible hours.
Some blame generous unemployment benefits.
Atlas Staffing Inc has 241 open jobs on their site for locations across Minnesota, but Minneapolis office manager Alison Barge says it’s “next to impossible” to fill positions right now.
It’s not a skills gap, Barge said. Most of the jobs are entry-level positions, and some employers are even offering a $3/hour incentive, boosting pay to $17 an hour, flexible scheduling, part-time availability, but people just “don’t want to work.”
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has rescinded the business restrictions he put in place last year to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Ducey’s latest executive order, which he signed Friday, removes the capacity limits on businesses he had put in place July 9, effective immediately.
“We’ve learned a lot over the past year,” Ducey said. “Our businesses have done an excellent job at responding to this pandemic in a safe and responsible way. We will always admire the sacrifice they and their employees have made and their vigilance to protect against the virus.”
Ducey said Arizona, unlike many other states, never shut down.
The House has voted to expand direct payments to the American people from $600 per adult and $600 per child in the year-end Covid relief legislation signed into law by President Donald Trump, to $2,000 per adult and $600 per child, a move the President supports.
Under the newly signed law, an average family of four will be receiving a $2,400 check via direct deposit from the U.S. Treasury, coming atop the $3,400 they received in the CARES Act in the spring — a combined $5,800 in 2020 alone.
A major U.S. meatpacking company has agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle charges of discrimination involving Muslim workers who walked off the job in a dispute over prayer breaks. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced the financial settlement Friday after several years of litigation between Cargill Meat Solutions…
by Joseph Sunde After a decades-long career in film, theater, and education, actor Geoffrey Owens decided to take a part-time job as a cashier at Trader Joe’s. When customers and news outlets began posting photos of the actor bagging groceries, the resulting comments included a mix of mockery and what…
by Alex Muresianu A new report from the University of Wisconsin-Madison comparing employment between Minnesota and Wisconsin after Minnesota raised its minimum wage found that Minnesotan workers saw a decline in employment, especially for young, inexperienced, and low-skilled workers, as employment in Wisconsin rose. Despite this evidence reaffirming that the minimum wage can hurt…