Message from State Representative, Natalie Zeleznikar
Dear Constituents of Rice Lake,
I am honored to work for you as your State Representative. The beginning of the legislative session has been a whirlwind, with 1,000 bills introduced in the House. This session I will be working on issues I am passionate about, including ensuring affordable, accessible childcare opportunities for families, finding methods to fund disability and senior health care providers to ensure those who need 24-hour care can find it in our community, and bolster job creators so that those who want to live and work in Northern Minnesota can find high-paying jobs.
I am excited to let you all know I have authored a bill, House File (HF) 416 to fund water, sewer, and utilities in Rice Lake. In addition, I authored a bill to end the tax on social security income for our seniors, something Democrats and Republicans have both supported over the past year.
The House will hear HF2 soon, creating a mandatory paid family & medical leave program, which includes a new tax on every employer and employee on each paycheck. Currently, federal law allows 12 weeks personal or medical leave, and in some cases employees use vacation, sick pay, or employer contributions to have the time period paid for those 12 weeks.
The current family and medical leave in law is for 12 weeks, and is mandated for businesses with 50 or more employees. This new bill would be a huge new mandate for every employer with 1 employee or more. The bill would allow an employee to be off work for 24 weeks out of a given year.
In this scenario, the employer would have to pay the employee for 24 weeks while out of work, while also staffing the shift while they are out of work. I have heard from many small business owners who would be put out of business if this mandate passes, because they simply do not have the money or employees to comply with this burdensome mandate. If this bill passes, I fear there will be a ripple effect and some businesses may end up closing, closing down for long stretches, or reducing services to customers.
HF 4, which passed the House last week, would allow undocumented immigrants to have a driver’s license identical to those of legal citizens. Republicans offered an amendment to allow a driver’s license as long as it was vertical, similar to the license of people under 21 years old, and stated that it is not for voting purposes. Unfortunately, Democrats voted this and every other Republican amendment down.
Many are concerned about the bill passed recently to mandate 100% clean energy in Minnesota, which would eliminate all natural gas, coal, and nuclear by 2040. This plan was passed by House and Senate Democrats and now goes to the Governor. While solar and wind currently produce less than 20% of Minnesota’s daily energy needs, the Democrats are banking on reaching 100% wind and solar energy. I believe it is important to have a diversified energy plan to include all the resources. We all want clean air and water, but we need to ensure a reasonable, reliable and affordable system. I do not believe 100% mandate is reasonable, reliable of affordable, and 2040 is far too soon to try and achieve it.
You can reach me by phone at 651-296-2676, or by mail at 223 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55155.
You can also follow my updates at Facebook.com/RepNatalieZeleznikar and on Instagram @repnataliezeleznikar. You can also sign up for my weekly email newsletter at house.mn.gov/03b. Thanks for the opportunity to be a voice for Northern Minnesota!
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