Child care bill moves forward

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CORRECTED 1/27/2011 – Union dues or fair share fees could not be deducted from the child care assistance fund payments providers receive.

That is the premise of a bill approved by the House Commerce and Regulatory Reform Committee. Sponsored by Rep. Kathy Lohmer (R-Lake Elmo), HF1766 awaits action by the House Health and Human Services Reform Committee. It has no Senate companion.

Committee members viewed letters and heard testimony from child care providers from around the state who expressed concern that a possible increase in costs for them would drive up prices for child care to cover those new expenses. They contend that low-income families would not be able to afford such a price increase and may be turned away by providers.

Cisa Keller, director of government and community relations at New Horizon Academy, is one such provider who spoke in support of the bill. She asserted that affordable child care is especially necessary for low-income parents, who may be working, searching for a job or pursuing higher education. Keller added that children also need the providers to ensure their readiness for school years.

Heather Falk, another provider, agreed that low-income families cannot afford to pay more, but as a parent herself, she cannot afford to charge less. Falk urged the committee to vote in favor of the bill.

Rep. Tom Anzelc (DFL-Balsam Township) questioned the bill’s need. He likened the Child Care Assistance Program, which benefits low-income parents, to Medical Assistance. He said Medical Assistance is a functioning, government-financed program that helps pay for the service of a professional who belongs to a union.

Anzelc asked representatives to consider whether imposing union dues or fair share fees on child care providers would be different. Testifying providers disputed this, saying that they are often self-employed, whereas medical professionals are not.

CORRECTION: As noted by a commenter, the article originally published by Session Daily named Rep. Pat Mazorol as raising the questions in the final two paragraphs. We republish articles from our media partners, relying on their editing. After the commenter questioned this, I went back to Session Daily and discovered that the article on that site had been changed, so we have now made the correction.