“Liberal Hero” U.S. Labor Secretary Perez will join Governor Dayton to promote paid leave

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US Labor Secretary Thomas Perez US Dept of Labor

Governor Dayton vetoed two more bills over the holiday weekend, bring the total to three for the upcoming special session.  The Governor’s veto pen rejected the omnibus agriculture, environment, and natural resources bill as well as the omnibus jobs and energy bill on Saturday, having previously vetoed the omnibus education bill.

While legislative leaders have pledged commitment to work with the Governor to get the three bills passed, the Star Tribune reports that Dayton will spend his time today with St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges to welcome U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and campaign for paid family and sick leave.

CNN recently profiled, Perez (Tom Perez: liberal hero,) finding he “has notably taken (an) activist’s approach to the job,” and naming him a potential candidate for Governor of Maryland in 2018.  He’s also been an advocate for Obama’s position to fast-track the Trans Pacific trade deal which has been a hot topic in recent weeks.

Last year Dayton signed legislation that expanded unpaid leave under the Minnesota Parental Leave Act from six to twelve weeks for the birth or adoption of a child for full or part-time employees of companies with 21 or more employees.  Federal law allows up to twelve weeks unpaid leave as well, for companies with 50 or more employees.  President Obama used an executive order in January to give paid leave to all federal workers for up to six weeks.

Perez, who oversees a federal department of over 17,000 employees is on a nationwide tour along with Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett, to promote the policy.  According to the Washington Post, the administration officials are targeting specific states in hopes of spurring federal paid leave laws down the road.  Per the Post,”The Labor Department has provided $500,000 to state and local officials to conduct feasibility studies on paid leave and will distribute an additional $1 million in federal funding this summer.”

Legislation was authored in Minnesota this year by Rep Ryan Winkler-D-Golden Valley, which would have mandated that companies and their employees put money into a statewide insurance pool to pay for up to six weeks of paid leave, although the bill didn’t make it through the House.

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