2015 legislative session in review – unfinished business

The regular legislative session wrapped up two weeks ago but a special session is looming large due to three bills vetoed by Governor Dayton. Of those three, the most pressing and relevant for Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota and our program participants is the Jobs and Energy bill.

Workforce training

While the Jobs bill that passed the legislature includes some additional funding for adult competitive workforce grants, it leaves out some key funding to support employment for those with disabilities. We believe that preparing all people for work is a pressing need in this state and a pending special session provides an opportunity to create a budget that reflects that value.

Although Minnesota’s unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the nation, we know that there is a huge employment gap for people of color. In order to address the employment gap and coming shortage of workers in the state, Minnesota must adequately fund workforce training programs to better prepare low-income, low-skilled individuals for better jobs.

Voting Rights – Restore the Vote

One other piece of unfinished business from the legislative session is the restoration of voting rights to the approximately 47,000 Minnesotans who live in our communities but still cannot vote due to a felony conviction. This legislation was passed during regular session by the Senate and Governor Dayton has made it one of his priorities for the special session. However, despite strongly bipartisan authorship and support and the statewide and diverse membership of a coalition of 70+ organizations, it was never allowed to even have a hearing in the House. Let’s encourage leadership to make Restore the Vote a piece of the overall compromise.

As leaders hammer out a compromise over the next few days, they should hear from you! We anticipate a special session to take place in the next week or two.