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Bill aimed at breaking down gender pay barrier heads toward Senate, House vote

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A collection of bills that advocates equal pay for women is moving along in the Minnesota Legislature.

The House Ways and Means Committee approved the Women's Economic Security Act (HF 2536) on Wednesday with a split vote, which will send the bill to the full House, Forum News says. On Monday, the Senate Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture Division Committee unanimously approved a similar omnibus bill (SF 2050), and now is a step away from a full Senate debate, the paper says.

“While strides have been made in providing equal opportunities and pay for women in Minnesota’s workforce, the fact remains that disparities still exist,” said Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, who championed the bill in the Senate. “Women are paid 80 cents for every dollar a man makes, which is unacceptable. The Women’s Economic Security Act will reform these inconsistencies, which should not exist in the first place.”

The Women’s Economic Security Act aims to do the following:

– Closing the gender pay gap, requiring private businesses that contract with the state to report on pay equity within their workforce.
– Increasing income for working women and their families by increasing the minimum wage to $9.50.
– Expanding access to high-quality, affordable childcare.
– Expanding family and sick leave for working families, including paid sick and safe leave and expanding unpaid leave under the Minnesota Parental Leave Act.
– Enhance protections for victims of domestic violence.
– Encouraging women in non-traditional, high-wage jobs and support growth for women-owned small businesses.

Click here for a fact sheet on the act.

The state contract provision applies to businesses with at least 50 employees and that get more than $500,000 from the state.

Critics seem to agree with what the bill stands for, but they are critical because it may cost the state more money, Finance and Commerce says.

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