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Bow ties for everyone!

Posted at 12:21 PM on May 1, 2008 by Michael Marchio

Today is May Day, and Rep. Neil Peterson (R-Bloomington) is helping lawmakers get in the spirit by handing out his trademark bow ties for everyone to wear. I'm seeing more Republicans wearing them than DFLers. Is this a partisan divide on neckwear?

Lawmakers decided to take up a lot of labor-oriented legislation too. One bill, SF543, sponsored by Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL-Brooklyn Park), is a resolution supporting the Employee Free Choice Act. That bill, before Congress, would make it easier for people to form union by only requiring a majority of workers to sign cards indicating they want to form one, instead of the current secret ballot election. The bill hasn't been able to overcome a filibuster in Washington, and this being only a resolution, it won't actually do anything, but if there was ever a day to vote on something like this, today is it.

Another labor related bill was sponsored by Rep. Tom Rukavina. SF875 would raise the minimum wage from $6.15 to $6.90 this July 24, and $7.90 by July 24, 2009 for employers whose gross volume of sales is higher than $625,000 per year. For small employers, those doing less than $625,000, their minimum wage would rise from $5.25 to $5.75 this July and $6.75 next July.

Rep. Jeremy Kalin offered an amendment that would allow employers to pay $5.25 an hour to employees under 20 years old and it passed.

Rep. Melissa Hortman's HF3807, the whistleblower bill reached the floor, and Rep. Tom Emmer got into the May Day spirit and offered an amendment that would allow employees of the Attorney General's office to unionize. It was ruled not germane by the speaker, but you have to give Rep. Emmer credit for trying.

Rep. Kohls offered an amendment to the whistleblower bill that would apply it to not just the executive branch, but the legislative branch too. Probably to his surprise, Rep. Hortman agreed with him and said she'd support it. The amendment failed on a voice vote though, and her bill was approved 88-40.

Rep. Dennis Ozment (R-Rosemount) even had a few minutes in the Speaker's chair this morning, and he said that "It was exciting but I can only stand so much fun at my age." Rep. Ozment announced in January that he would be retiring, and was given a standing ovation on the floor for his service. Well done, Rep. Ozment.