The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

April 12, 2014

Mankato-area Legislators hold mid-session briefing

Transportation, wages, alternative medicine discussed

MANKATO — The trio of Democrats came to Saturday morning's listening session in Mankato ready to talk about their accomplishments so far this legislative session. With varying levels of Republican support, they’ve passed propane relief and an anti-bullying bill, spent some of the surplus and raised the minimum wage to $9.50 by 2016.

There were a few questions about those items during the 90-minute casual conversation with about a dozen constituents.

Quentin Lundberg of Mankato, a former teacher, said he’s glad that more is being done to address bullying than was done when he was in the classroom.

“I think it’s a good policy and I guess thinking back we didn’t really have, when I was teaching, any procedure to recognize what bullying really is,” he said. It would help to get teachers together and have curriculum to help them get on the same page, he said.

“Thank you for saying that because that’s exactly the intention of the bill,” said Rep. Kathy Brynaert, D-Mankato. She was joined in the mid-session public meeting by Rep. Clark Johnson, D-North Mankato, and Sen. Kathy Sheran, D-Mankato.

But constituents had more questions about laws that didn’t make it. What’s the likelihood of universal health care? Where is new transportation money likely to come from? Why didn’t the minimum wage increase have a tip credit?

Chris Frederick, Mankato’s City Council president, asked that last question. He’s heard from owners of hospitality businesses that would have preferred a tip credit, which allows employers to pay less than the minimum wage for tipped workers.

Brynaert said there was a lot of talk about tip credits. She noted the bill allows employers to pay lower wages for youth and those in training. But the tip credit was taken off the table in Minnesota a long time ago, she said, and putting it back on would be a major undertaking.

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