Often media coverage of Minnesota's debate over raising state minimum seems generated by "pseudoevents"--press conferences or protests--with canned talking points for or against, but two recent articles in the Faribault and Owatonna newspapers reveal a slightly different story.
Freshman state senator Vicki Jensen, who owns an independent insurance agency with her husband Trevor, holds regular informal public meetings with her constituents. Her most recent meetings this past weekend focused on the issue of raising the minimum wage--and the discussion seems fairly free ranging.
In State Senator Vicki Jensen holds open discussion with Owatonna residents, the Owatonna People's Press's Peter Byrne reports:
When Minnesota State Senator Vicki Jensen (DFL- Owatonna) met with residents of Senate District 24 on Saturday at the Elks Lodge, a possible minimum wage increase in Minnesota was the main focus of the discussion.
This was Jensen’s 11th Saturday meeting with Owatonna residents.
The state of Minnesota current ranks in with the 43rd lowest minimum wage, $6.15, of the 45 states, plus Washington, D.C., that have a minimum wage. The remaining five states have no minimum wage requirement.
“I was hoping to start a good conversation about minimum wage in our state,” Jensen said to kick off the meeting. . . .
Jensen outlined the issue, and others joined in:
Owatonna Mayor Tom Kuntz attended Jensen’s discussion and brought up another issue tied to minimum wage: training.
“Owatonna has a number of businesses willing to pay the higher amounts, such as $11 per hour,” Kuntz said. “But the issue they’re facing is finding workers with the necessary training to fill those positions.”
Kuntz’s point is one common to the minimum wage debate. Jensen agreed, taking the opportunity to talk about the minimum wage issue as a whole, not just numbers. . . .
A number of residents turned out for the Saturday meeting. Todd Andrix, an Owatonna High School teacher, was among them and voiced a concern involving the youth of the area.
“I’ve been seeing students at the high school missing assignments because of the times they had to work,” Andrix said. “It’s one thing if they’re just working to buy a car or a new computer, but some of these kids having to work to help their families get by.” . . .
Read the entire article at the OPP to learned about ideas voters offered to Jensen.
In the Faribault Daily News, Carrie Sviggum reports in Minimum wage talk with Sen. Vicki Jensen sparks debate:
The question on Saturday, for a vocal group of constituents at the Central Avenue coffee shop with Sen. Vicki Jensen (DFL-Owatonna), was not should we raise the minimum wage, but by how much.
Jensen said as a small business owner herself she understands the balancing act employers have to make when determining their employees’ wages. Opponents of raising the minimum wage say small business owners will have to reduce their employees' hours or let them go.
Jensen voted yes to increase the minimum wage to $7.75, which passed the state senate by a margin of 39-28 in May. . . .
According to a Jensen aide, the local discussion echoed what the state senator heard in Owatonna and Waseca on Saturday:
It was Jensen’s third stop of the day, first in Waseca, then Owatonna to hear from voters on the issue that will likely be decided in the next legislative session.
Kevin George, the legislative aid to Jensen, said that the turnout in Faribault represented what they heard at the different stops that morning, which is that most people seem to be in agreement that raising the minimum wage to $7.75 is not enough. . .
Check out the rest at the FDN.
Photo: State Senator Vicki Jensen.
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