House passes prevention of state-deducted childcare dues

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The House passed a bill that would prevent union deductions from state child care assistance payments.

HF1766, sponsored by Rep. Kathy Lohmer (R-Lake Elmo), was passed 74-55 after a brief debate over when potential union dues would be paid by child care providers who may want to join a union. Child care providers support the bill, saying they could opt for direct payment of dues from their business checking accounts rather than garnishing their state reimbursement checks.

“No one testified against the bill,” Lohmer said. “This money belongs to providers and they should do with it what they want.”

Minnesota does not currently have a child care union, but Gov. Mark Dayton signed an executive order last November calling for an election. However, the vote was stalled when a Ramsey County judge issued a temporary restraining order.

DFL lawmakers said the bill is a solution to a problem that doesn’t yet exist, but Republicans said the practice has been tried in other states, such as Michigan.

“This is about union power and union financing,” said Rep. Steve Gottwalt (R-St. Cloud), chair of the House Health and Human Services Reform Committee. Child care providers said in committee that if such dues eventually become compulsory, some providers would stop taking subsidized low-income families.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where Sen. Ted Lillie (R-Lake Elmo) is the sponsor.