A couple of bills making the rounds at the Legislature this session have us wondering what's going on up there.
One bill would repeal Minnesota's Local Government Equal Pay Equity Act. This law has been around since 1984 and, slowly but surely, has raised the wages of women public employees to the levels of men doing equal work. That's a good thing, right?
But some GOP legislators think the law needs to be repealed. It's too expensive, they say, for local governments to prepare and file the pay reports they are required to submit every three years.
While it is true that pay inequity has all but disappeared in Minnesota's public sector, it is worthwhile to keep checking. It took us 27 years to get to this point. We suspect it would take a much shorter time for inequities to creep back in.
Another bill would weaken the three-year-old Minnesota ban on smoking in public places by allowing smoking in bars that also serve food, IF (and it is a big if) the smoking area is separated from the food area by a floor to ceiling wall, and the ventilation system will change the indoor air every two hours.
There are many bar owners who say this would bring back customers and business they lost when the ban went into effect. Lawmakers who support it say its a question of personal choice, and of giving business owners the freedom to run their businesses.
This is a "slippery slope" situation. Would the state be able to stop at this point, or would this open the door to more concessions later on?
On both these issues, we think the status quo is working well, and should be left alone.