Governor Dayton signs the Women's Economic Security Act, one of several laws now taking effect.
Governor Dayton is committed to improving state government – from investing in education and improving the state's infrastructure to taking steps to ensure high-quality health care. Through the work done in the 2014 legislative session, many great strides were made in keeping this promise. Here are ten of the laws and reforms signed by the Governor that are going into effect today:
Governor Dayton signs the Second Chance Expungement Bill into law.
Governor Dayton has signed a bill that will give a second chance to thousands of Minnesotans who are taking honest steps to support themselves and their families. The new law (Chapter 246, HF2576) creates a more thorough expungement mechanism that allows judges to permanently seal the criminal records of reformed offenders – making it easier for these Minnesotans to secure good jobs, access quality housing, and provide for their families.
"People can't turn their lives around and become law-abiding citizens, if they have no hope of finding a decent job or a place to live," said Governor Dayton. "This law provides a chance for them to put their pasts behind them and live better lives. I commend Senator Champion and Representative Melin for their leadership.”
State law allows judges to expunge criminal records of certain offenders. But a Minnesota Supreme Court decision ruled that under previous law, judges could only wipe out court records, not those collected by state agencies such as the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension or Department of Human Services. As a result, offenses were still showing up in certain background checks, which made it difficult for many offenders to obtain housing or secure employment. The new law enacted today will give judges in Minnesota the authority to expunge all criminal records for reformed offenders.
“Nearly one in five Minnesotans have an arrest or criminal record,” said Sen. Bobby Joe Champion, who authored the bill in the Senate. “The use of online criminal record checks by employers and landlords has skyrocketed as they evaluate candidates for employment and housing. Unfortunately, online records are often inaccurate, incomplete or misinterpreted.”
One important provision in the bill will help correct that problem by requiring business screening services to delete records if they know a criminal record has been sealed, expunged, or is the subject of a pardon.
"This legislation gives Minnesotans who made mistakes in the past a second chance so they can move on and become productive members of our communities,” said Rep. Carly Melin, who authored the bill in the House. “It is an important step toward removing barriers to employment, housing, or a post-secondary degree – the kinds of things that allow Minnesotans to support themselves and their loved ones."
The new law also improves long-standing juvenile record expungement law by clarifying that records related to juvenile delinquency – not just an order of adjudication – can be expunged. Additionally, it provides clear standards for consideration in juvenile records expungement, and easier access by criminal justice agencies to juvenile records.
Finally, the legislation provides for easier exchange of expunged records between criminal justice agencies for use in investigations, prosecution, and sentencing for all records expunged. The law also requires agencies to notify the petitioner when their criminal records are sealed.
Supporters of the bill included the County Attorney Association and the MN Second Chance Coalition, as well as the MN Coalition of Battered Women and the MN Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, the Minnesota workforce is 2.8 million strong as of July 2013. Minnesotaworks.net held a career fair in November 2012 where community members were able to have their personal resumes critiqued to better prepare them for the job search (Photo courtesy of the Minnesota DEED Facebook page).
Employers relocating to Minnesota often tell DEED’s Business and Community Development representatives that the quality of the workforce is one of the driving factors. But what does quality mean?
Does equality equate with educational attainment? Labor force participation rate? The hard-to quantify — yet frequently heard – tireless work ethic? Rate of absenteeism? The quality of the workforce likely means different things to different employers.
Some look to the state’s labor market participation rate as an indicator that Minnesotans are hard working. We know Minnesota’s labor force participation rate, which measures the proportion of the population age 16 and older that is employed or actively looking for work, is 70.3 percent, the third-highest labor force participation rate nationwide. The U.S rate is 63.7 percent.
Governor Dayton gives remarks at Minneapolis City Hall on the eve of Freedom to Marry Day
Governor Mark Dayton issued a proclamation designating August 1, 2013, to be ‘Freedom to Marry Day’ in Minnesota.
"On May 14, 2013, I was honored and proud to sign the Freedom to Marry bill into law on the steps of the Minnesota State Capitol. On August 1, 2013, same-sex couples shall be free to marry in the State of Minnesota, and this event will be celebrated at the stroke of midnight with marriages across our great state" said Governor Dayton.
"Our nation’s founding principle was stated more than 237 years ago in the Declaration of Independence: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.'
That principle was later embodied in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution: 'No State shall…deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.'
These deeply held American ideals of liberty and justice must assuredly protect the freedom for every person to marry the person they love.
Throughout its history, some of our country’s most important progress has been to extend equal rights and protections to everyone. And while that progress has often been difficult and initially divisive, it has always been the next step forward to fulfilling our country’s promise to every American."
On May 14, 2013, Governor Dayton signed into law House File 1054/Senate File 925, granting all Minnesotans the freedom to marry. This week, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights released a toolkit on how Minnesota’s new law legalizing same-sex marriage impacts people, communities, businesses and religious entities.
Beginning August 1, two individuals of the same gender can become lawfully wed in Minnesota. “This is a milestone for equal rights for all Minnesotans,” said Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey. “Minnesota’s same-sex marriage law seeks to strike a delicate balance in recognizing individual liberty while respecting the Nation’s long standing tradition of separating church and state.”
Governor Dayton issued a proclamation, officially declaring that June 2013 is Pride Month in the State of Minnesota. Residents and visitors are encouraged to participate in the numerous Pride Month activities across Minnesota, and support the ongoing efforts leading Minnesota toward full LGBT equality.
Governor Dayton is joined by legislators and constituents in a mock signing for 'Ban the Box' legislation
As Gov. Mark Dayton ceremonially signed a bill expanding the "Ban the Box" law to private employers today, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights is providing a toolkit on the requirements of the new law, which goes into effect beginning Jan. 1, 2014.
"This is a significant piece of legislation," said Commissioner of Human Rights Kevin Lindsey. "Ninety-two million Americans currently have either an arrest or a criminal conviction in their past. This law offers the vast majority of individuals with a non-violent criminal record a second chance at an opportunity for employment to better their lives.”
The new law requires private employers to wait until a job applicant has been selected for an interview, or a conditional offer of employment has been extended, before asking a job applicant about criminal records or conducting a criminal background check. This requirement has applied to public employers since 2009.
Existing laws will continue to protect vulnerable adults and children from people with violent or sexual criminal histories. Additionally, employers may exclude applicants if a crime is relevant to the position's job duties.
Yesterday, thousands of Minnesotans joined the Governor Dayton at the State Capitol as he signed the Freedom to Marry bill. We gathered some of our favorite tweets from the day to share on our blog. Thank you to everyone who joined the Governor and legislators yesterday at the Capitol and on Twitter on this historic day! Follow Governor Dayton on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news.