Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, has introduced another version of his bill to repeal the Pay Equity Act (PEA), a program started in the 1980s that ensures that women are paid a comparable wage to men in local government jobs. As of Thursday, when Drazkowski introduced his new bill, Republicans have authored four bills this session aimed at repealing the Pay Equity Act. Twenty-two Republicans in the House and Senate are sponsoring the legislation; 21 of the sponsors are men.
The original repeal of the PEA was contained in a broader bill authored by Drazkowski that repealed a number of local government mandates; a similar bill is pending in the Senate. Senate Republicans then offered a standalone bill to repeal fair pay laws, and Drazkowski’s bill (HF698) introduced on Thursday brings the total tally of bills to four.
Democrats blasted Republicans for attempting to repeal the law earlier this month. St. Paul Rep. Erin Murphy demanded that “Republicans stop trying to take steps backward,” while Rep. Kate Knuth of New Brighton noted that pay inequality persists.
“We are making progress in equality but despite the progress, women still only earn about 77 cents on the dollar of what men make,” she said. “They are still not earning an equal amount to men.”
Likewise, newspapers throughout the state have called the repeal a bad idea.
The Mankato Free Press wrote, “Paying women what they deserve to be paid is not only ethical, but it’s part of what Minnesotans mean when they refer to the quality of life here. We came up with a good law and should keep it.”
The Bemidji Pioneer wrote:
Republicans, who lead both the Minnesota House and Senate, may have been overzealous in their attempt to trim government. Under the mantle of removing mandates from local governments, a Republican effort is underfoot to repeal the 1984 law that brings gender balance to public employment.
In other words, the bill would return to a situation where a man could be paid more than a woman for the comparable amount of work in a public job.
And the Winona Daily News was harsh in its criticism of the bill in general and of Drazkowski in particular:
Drazkowski would try to have us believe that gender discrimination, especially in the public sector, isn’t a problem. In other words, government jobs pay the same no matter the gender. Besides, federal law takes care of the issue, so state law is redundant. To believe Minnesota doesn’t need the law is at best naïve and, at worst, sexist.
Photo: Rep. Steve Drazkowski