Capitol Report: Minnesota’s Economy, Preventing Sex Trafficking, Service Animal Statutes

Capitol Report: Minnesota’s Economy, Preventing Sex Trafficking, Service Animal Statutes

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Capitol report is a production of Senate media services this week two freshman senators on the jobs and economic growth committee provide their views on Minnesota’s economic health also a possible new law to distinguish between service animals and pets stay tuned for this and more on this week’s Capitol report [Music] [Applause] welcome to this week’s program I’m Shannon Lurky not only is my guest the vice chair of the Senate jobs and economic growth committee he is also planning to sponsor bipartisan legislation aimed at preventing sex trafficking in Minnesota Senator Paul Anderson now joins me in the studio welcome thanks Shannon let’s start with the economy how would you assess Minnesota’s economy right now well I think the economy is good we’re seeing that we’ve got low unemployment rates probably the lowest in almost 20 years here in the state you know you can peel that back and n see we still have some challenges in some areas I think we’ll talk about the workforce shortage and different segments of our industry and small business but at the same time it’s good we’re seeing more money in people’s pockets at you some people will be pro or a con towards the federal tax bill but in the end you’re seeing bonuses you’re seeing higher wages you’re seeing some investment in in retirement fund so I think more and more as we go along you’re gonna see people are pretty satisfied with the economy well you bring up the issue of the workforce shortage because our unemployment is so low how big of a problem is that and then also to find qualified workers workers who fit the the jobs that are out there right now absolutely this is you know business after business when you talk with skilled labor in the workforce in in in really what I’ve concentrated on is skilled manufacturing agriculture healthcare and IT you’re seeing 20 to 30 percent vacancies in a lot of these companies you talk to a construction company you talked to a manufacturing plant they are dying to have people come in that are skilled and ready to go and so we worked on last session we worked on the youth skills training program which brings I call it the modernization of Voe tech bringing back a kind of a vote tech option pilot programs in school districts to get them on the job training we’re talking about some scholarships anything to draw these folks in because again these are really good paying jobs these are good benefit jobs but oftentimes there’s a stigma around whether or not kids in high school want to go into these industries so as part of the messaging that that you know maybe college doesn’t have to be for everybody and some of these trade jobs are really a good fit absolutely and over the last 20 years I think there’s been a real effort and for good reason but we’ve seen that 20-year push to go to a four-year school you’ve seen you know debt that’s just incredible but you’ve also seen this opportunity where we’ve got these jobs waiting for people to come in get trained apprenticeships whether it’s internships just get licensed and they can start making good money without the debt of a four-year school now it’s not for everybody and in both ways there’s a lot of students that are graduating high school that really that four-year institution is not for them and this is a really good career path one other aspect of unemployment I want to touch on art our numbers are low below 4% but the Department of Economic Development deed is separating them out now by demographics and you still see that black Minnesotans are more out of work as our Hispanic Minnesotans what could the legislature do to maybe tackle the disparity partner I think there’s there’s more work to do here so I sponsored a bill last year with regards to summit Academy in Minneapolis this is really looking at a lot of people that maybe struggled through school maybe didn’t get their high school diploma or GED for various reasons but really allow them a career path that gets their GED and puts them on training paths and certification again to go work and maybe healthcare or construction so there’s different ways we can go about this but we have to bring everybody to the table to address these situations now I know your district is as part of the metro area but there’s also a lot of talk about the economy in Greater Minnesota there was a recent men post article where interest groups representing rural areas outlined a desire for a bonding bill I know the Senate’s on the bonding tours increases in local government aid more street repairs measures for affordable housing there’s pasta in some areas of the state there’s not enough affordable housing for workers and also the childcare crisis what are your thoughts on on the legislators roles in helping growth in Greater Minnesota well you think you know this is a wonderful state of about five-and-a-half million people the Twin Cities as a great region in itself but we have to look at what’s going on in outstate Minnesota when you look at affordable housing and workforce housing shortage shortage and elderly care housing we’ve got a real issue that I think we all have to roll up our sleeves and work on and there’s a commitment I think on a bipartisan level to do that there’s a commitment in our caucus to take a serious look at this local government aid my district doesn’t receive any we’ve you know we talk about fiscal disparities so we’re a net payer into the state so we look at different ways on that but in general these are areas that states or cities across the state have real needs and we need to look at these in methodical ways that we can address these issues before we go I want to get your thoughts on sex trafficking in Minnesota you are going to be the sponsor of a bill in the Senate that is going to change the the curriculum and public schools to include sexual exploitation prevention why so this was brought to myself and a few other legislators by an incredible group out of Hopkins high school girls United Minnesota led by a superstar junior Jessica Melnick and this is a group that started probably about five years ago in Hopkins middle school and over the course of those four to five years they take on big issues as a group of young women yes and this is a real big issue and this is a situation that a handful of years ago they saw on TV they saw one of the students at Hopkins high school that was traffic and so they they saw this as an opportunity okay how do we address this this is a real problem nationally locally globally I mean there’s this has received more and more attention and we have to educate folks to understand what are the signals what are the just tragic situations going on right here in our community you just don’t think about that people would be trafficked here you hear about sex trafficking and children trafficking from around the world but we have it going on here and so these students looked at this issue and said okay how do we educate ourselves because as they started asking questions they’re learn a lot of answers and so in this it’s simply this is a this is a shall not a mandate to the school districts but it’s offering them resources and information around sex trafficking that they can educate their students so I think this is a common-sense pragmatic approach to allowing our school districts again the opportunity to educate the students on these areas that are really serious to our culture in our society the FBI says that Minnesota or the Twin Cities is actually the 13th largest Center for a child prostitution and sometimes people think these are immigrants that are in this but it’s actually all children across the board that’s one of the things Minnesotans maybe don’t know what are some other things well again it’s it’s it’s maybe not prevalent in in everybody’s lives but it really is existing here and so when you think of sexual exploitation in being trafficked these are areas that in everyday walk of life so I mean if this is happening in Hopkins School District a handful of years ago or in other school districts around the suburbs it’s happening in the inner cities it’s happening in our state and again it’s just something we really have to keep working on and there’s been some champions senator Klobuchar and congressman Paulson have been champions on the federal level and I think you’re seeing and this is inspired by some great high school young women high school students but it’s also something that you’ve you’ve seen in the press conference last week that there’s bipartisan work on this from Senator Pappas senator Pratt sander Nelson and Sarasota’s insky and myself in the Senate just a litany of people in the house that want to tackle this situation because we we just have two senator Anderson I want to thank you so much for your time today yeah thank you [Music] the state demographer addressed key lawmakers this week and offered some alarming news about the trends and forecasts for public employment in Minnesota although the demographic shifts will start settling in over the next couple of decades the resulting composition that we have here as a state will be more or less permanent we’re making a shift right now to a new age structure and that will stay in place into the foreseeable future for the first time in our state’s history will have by 2030 as many older adults as we have young children 0 to 18 and in fact those two lines cross even earlier if we’re looking at school-age children you can see that that overall the number of dependents including older adults and young children will be growing at the same time that the share of working age will be declining and we’ve made some projections about what the labor force will look like in the future we expect that the growth will be very little going forward in the past and about not in the 1990s the labor force all the people in Minnesota who were available to work this is private sector public sector together grew by about 54,000 people each year during that decade or about 540 thousand over the course of the decade and you can see that that number has declined considerably well it creates what I might call a doom and gloom scenario no growth we’re gonna shrink our workforce tax revenue will slow and we can avoid that if we make purposeful changes if we decide to make the state into a different direction and so am I correct in this absolutely the future is wide open but what I can tell you is that we’ve already built into these projections increased migration that we think will happen because of the labor force shortages so we do project considerable increase in migration over this time period all we’ve seen a little bit of that but it hasn’t fully you know turned around what we might expect but certainly there may be policy levers that could change that [Music] joining me in the studio senator Matt little a member of the jobs and economic growth committee to provide his thoughts on the current state of Minnesota’s economy welcome senator little thanks for having me you serve on the jobs and economic growth Finance and Policy Committee as I just said what is your assessment of the state’s economy right now I think we’re generally doing pretty good we have very low unemployment people are buying houses you can see a lot of businesses investing or reinvesting in the products they’re making or the services they provide so overall I think we’re doing pretty well I think there’s some things that we should be worried about though for example well first and foremost I think the our housing stock we need a far more diversified an affordable housing stock home prices are quite high right now and that’s a product of a good economy but there is a downside to that and so we want people to be able to afford a home here in Minnesota so they can build up wealth and equity and be a little more financially stable so I think that’s one issue I think the other issue that we’re gonna see and this is more of a long-term problem but is student debt student debt continues to keep people out of the housing market it affects what types of jobs they can take and it affects their mobility and which economies they can essentially work in so right now we’re doing really well but there’s some underlying currents that are concerning for the future many were disappointed to learn that the Twin Cities did not make Amazon’s cut for their second headquarters although the Twin Cities many of the metrics the Amazon said that it was looking for Senate Republicans are blaming Minnesota’s high taxes and regulations what are your thoughts on on why we didn’t get Amazon yeah well if Amazon is watching this show I want to tell them that of course nothing is set in stone they can still come to Lakeville Minnesota who did put in a bit and I was really happy that they did because we’ve got we’ve got great success in our industrial park and in our business community that being said I think sometimes here in st. Paul people simplify an issue in order to further their political purposes the taxes and regulatory environment are not the only thing that a business is going to consider when they’re when they’re moving and I think cutting against argument is Amazon is already here we have a huge warehouse in Shakopee with a thousand employees so clearly Amazon thinks that Minnesota is a good place to be but there are number of reasons why they would want to go elsewhere I think you know having a diversified locations of their headquarters and warehouses is smart so they’re not impacted by kind of regional economic situations as much they’re looking at workforce and I’ve already kind of mentioned we have really low unemployment here right and that’s my next question I mean Minnesota is at a 17-year low the department of economic and of Employment and economic development puts it three point one percent so you think possibly the tight labor market affected Amazon’s decision what else is what other impacts are there first yeah certainly tight labor market is gonna be something businesses are looking at when you’re looking at needing 50,000 employees and you see that everybody’s already hired that’s difficult to come up with 50,000 new people or move 50,000 people into a certain area again they look at housing market – is there the capacity for all these new employees to live in the area is it easy to get to transfer our employees to an area but they also look at transit in education infrastructure we do really well in education infrastructure I think we’re a little weaker on transit than some of our competitors so make some competitors had no transit systems and that was pointed out in several artemy yeah which goes back to my original point which is this is far more complex than any single point that you the political point that you want to make there’s so many factors that this company is considering but we should be happy we’re doing really well in Minnesota we’re still fortune 500 hub Amazon does have a president a huge presence here in Minnesota we shouldn’t forget that and so we’ll be fine you know we have a great economy here great metro economy grow economy so we’re gonna be fine I’d like to turn briefly to the deed has a new the Department of Employment economic development has a new section in their reporting that examines unemployment by demographics so while overall unemployment is low in State black Minnesotans are at 7.5% Hispanic Minnesotans are 5% what do you think the legislature can do or should do to tackle the disparities in employment that still exists in the state yeah I think there’s no simple solution right otherwise we would have solved it by now for me I think it’s all about access you know there are certain neighborhoods and communities that don’t have access to jobs in the area so that means they have to travel I already mentioned I think we’re a little weaker in our transit you know kind of our transit sector so if someone doesn’t have a job they can’t afford to get the transportation to get to a job and then they don’t have a job and they can’t afford the transportation oh that’s cycle continues so we need to try and break that cycle by providing access to a number of things not just transit but also training in college you know in Minnesota we need to continue to make that cheap on the jobs money actually we talked a lot about a pipeline program where people could learn skilled labor while getting paid so not only you know you’re not only gonna ship yeah exactly so and I think that is critical you know because because people can’t stop working all the time to get the training or the education they need so to be able to do both I think it’s a huge advantage and then finally access to capital so people can start their own small businesses in the areas they live you know I’m a big supporter of there’s an you know entrepreneurial Walton program that was started recently that provides access to capital for minorities women veterans and folks with disabilities you know so they can start their own small businesses and hopefully hire more people in their communities and so I think it’s all about access and and that is really the the long-term solution I’d like to turn to a little of your personal history you began public service as mayor of Lakeville you’re now entering your second legislative session as a state senator have you how have your views evolved from moving from local government to state government yeah so one thing people forget I was actually a city council member that’s where I got my original start so that was back in 2010 I think my my political views are fairly my area the same in terms of being pregnant think about our approaches and in China work in a bipartisan manner my entire time on the council and as mayor I worked with for Republicans City Council members so I think I have a lot more practice than a lot of people that come here new in terms of working with folks across the aisle to do better for your community but here I think it is a little bit different in the fact that you don’t spend that much time together you know you go on the floor and then you leave the floor you get to interact in committees and at some events but you don’t have the quality time that you do on a local board was really spending time getting to know each other yeah in their views and how maybe you could either well and just you know you you share something in common right you share your community in common that’s not the same here now there are there are certainly similarities between communities but you don’t get that quality time that you do on a local board so that does affect your views one one quick question before we go because you have both a state and local perspective how is Minnesota faring and keeping the local economies and local government viable yeah I think in Greater Minnesota we need to do a better job of helping to repair infrastructure if we’re going to maintain the small-town way of life in Minnesota and we’ve got to be fixing the sewer systems and the water systems in these places so people can continue to live you know there’s also an argument that we’re having here about the the role of government in promoting broadband and having these local counties be able to use fast internet but I think we all agree that sewer and water necessary so we need to do a better job for our smaller towns but then secondly I think there’s there’s an kind of an attack of local control as mayor as a former mayor my my position is let a city run itself in in in most aspects that they can and don’t try and try and dictate every little thing that they do and I and I think this last session we saw a number of bills that try to dictate to cities what they can and cannot do and I don’t think that’s healthy for a relationship there needs to be trust and and there was an indication that state government doesn’t trust our cities and towns anymore and I don’t think that’s healthy senator little I want to thank you so much for your time welcome to the program I hope to have you back yeah thanks for having me hope it be bad [Music] according to a recent USA Today article nineteen states have enacted laws to crack down on people who pass off their pets as service animals I recently sat down with Senator David Ozma to talk about some possible new statutes in Minnesota and I began by asking him if there is confusion about the difference between service animals and emotional support animals I think there is and I think there’s also abuse going on in the system I think people are claiming either claiming a disability that they don’t even don’t really have their overblowing a disability or they’re out outwardly sark trying to circumvent parts of Airlines and that you have to check your dog and follow certain rules and they’re trying to circumvent them and it’s because we have become much more of a pet society I guess but I think we really need to be careful on what we call a service dog and Orca service animal versus a convenience animal or your pet because these service animals are very highly trained and when you bring into an environment particularly in an aircraft a pet or a pet that is not trained it can do a lot of damage to that service animal that they have spent months or even years developing so I think it’s worth starting that discussion and that’s why I’m starting to review what we have on the books and what is happening in other states particularly in Virginia I think it’s important to note that the Americans with Disabilities Act distinguishes between service animals which are protected and can go in public places it’s the animal which is either a dog or in some cases a miniature horse it’s considered an extension of the person with a disability these are federally protected these animals as you said undergo significant training examples are seeing-eye dog or a hearing dog or a dog that helps someone with a seizure does is education part of the mix here in terms of people understanding what a service dog truly is versus an emotional support kind of animal yes I think there is an educational component to it but I think also I think there is a component beyond that that people are trying to take advantage of a situation you know we have heard stories already about people who move into a new apartment and the apartment says no dogs allowed and everybody in the apartment building likes it that way because something may have allergies that they like the fact that there’s no animals or no pets and then a couple weeks after the person gets in there they suddenly come up with an excuse note for my doctor saying I have to have this pet for whatever reason it’s not necessarily a person who may have a serious or an ad a type of situation but they circumvent the whole process and then all the people in that building are now subject to this and how fair is it to the people that live in the building so we’re gonna have to find a balance here or maybe some more educational means and in some cases it may have to be turning turn into punishment when we find people who are misrepresenting or abusing the system in researching this segment I read a number of news stories where citizens go online to purchase vests for their pet to make it look like a service animal The Daily Beast reported that there’s now a cottage industry of websites that for price you can buy service animal ID card certificates and patches is this part of the problem the availability of these sort of false service animal things I absolutely agree I think the more you can the more of that abuse that goes on it not only diminishes the service dogs because when it’s when you have a service dog that is something that’s very important to you but it also creates like you said these cottage industries that could falsely represent what really a service dog is so I don’t know if this is more of a federal issue where we have to have some type of a common ID that says this is a service dog I have any I’m gonna be speaking with the folks that train these dogs to find out what type of not only there’s more about the training that service animals have but also about what do they have for identification so that they can show you know what do they have a card that specifically says I don’t know a lot about the subject matter but I’m gonna learn more about it as we go but I want to make sure that we do the right thing in Minnesota and find out what if this is a problem and if so how to deal with it both as you mentioned Virginia passed a law Colorado also passed a law that imposes fines for people who pass off their pet as a service animal in terms of businesses the ATA only allows two questions that can be asked to a person what task does your animal perform and is this animal required because of a disability so service dogs actually don’t have ID so maybe as you said there should be a national ID but well any kind of law be difficult to enforce that’s the part of the challenge of this legislation if we’re going to go down this path first we have to identify the problem we have to probably have some hearings to find out what is the actual issue talk to people like Delta Airlines and find out what they’re experiencing but I think one other question would be at the federal level is to talk about these a DEA questions and is there some type of a certificate is there more to just those two questions that needs to be asked or is there some type of certification that they can get that says this dog is a DEA compliant well that comes with it a stamp of approval that makes it much more difficult for you to pass off fluffy as your service dog it’s actually not a service dog it’s just your your pet so there’s a lot of work to be done on this one and there may be some things with a DEA we need to review too but that’s our friends in the Washington DC well I think there’ll be some pushback though because Americans and Minnesotans I presume love their pets market research comm projects ninety six billion dollars in spending on pets by 2020 don’t people have a right if their animals will behave to bring them where they want to bring them perhaps but it’s also the right of the business not to have things happen I mean even the most well behaved dog it can have accidents can he can become nervous and go beyond the training that it has so I think there’s a great there’s a balance that can be struck the private property rights of the businesses or your own individual your own individual rights need to be balanced so we have a long discussion I think ahead of us as far as what we’re going to do one final question an attorney for the National Disability Rights Network which advocates on behalf of people with disabilities argue that the laws in essence should aim to educate rather than punish do you agree I think education would be a whole lot easier than creating the the pet police running around to everybody’s business or going to the airport I I really don’t like having to go in that direction education is probably the easiest and fastest one to do but I won’t throw out anything as far as what we would go with this one we need to identify the issue and find out really how bad it is it’s it possible that maybe the issue isn’t as bad as we think it is but maybe with some education or maybe just the fact that we’re talking about it will make some of these pet owners who are falsely or circumventing the process understand that you might not want to do that anymore with fluffy Senator Isaac thanks so much thank you [Music] join us again next week as we delve into more topics affecting Minnesotans I’m Shannon Lurky and on behalf of all of us at senate media services thanks for watching [Music] [Applause] [Music]

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