Today's political headlines in Minnesota will be dominated by two big stories, the final passage of an indexed minimum wage hike in the state senate and the consideration of the omnibus Women's Economic Security Act by the state house.
This morning, though, the Legislative Audit Commission met and selected seven topics for evaluation by the Legislative Auditor. These reviews can sometimes reveal that a program's house is in order, or legislators learn about our state's shortcomings
Of the list, Bluestem is most interested in the sixth item on the list:
Packinghouse Workers Bill of Rights
How have responsible agencies implemented, monitored, complied with, and assessed the effectiveness of this law? What is the rate of complaints to these agencies regarding working conditions at meat packing plants? Have workplace safety inspections shown improvement in packinghouses’ working conditions?
Readers can check out the statue here. The law was passed in 2007. Two years later, Workday Minnesota's Barb Kucera reported in Minnesota law failing to improve meatpacking safety, survey finds:
A two-year-old law intended to improve safety for meatpacking workers has failed and conditions in many plants have actually gotten worse, according to a survey by the Human Rights Program at the University of Minnesota.
In 2007, the Minnesota Legislature passed a Packinghouse Workers Bill of Rights, becoming only the second state - after Nebraska - to implement legislation targeting one of the most dangerous industries. Among other things, the bill provides meatpacking workers the right to adequate equipment to safely perform their jobs and information about occupational hazards known to exist in the workplace.
To test the effectiveness of the law, researchers conducted an in-depth survey of 51 current and former meatpacking workers at two poultry plants, two beef plants and one pork plant in Minnesota. The surveys, which were voluntary, were administered in English, Spanish or Somali and took between 30 minutes and an hour to complete. . . .
Since being enacted, the effect of the law has not been reviewed. We'll have more about the reasoning of the committee in selecting this topic in a future post.
Here are the other topics selected this morning:
1. Minerals Taxation
Are mineral tax proceeds distributed as required by state law? How is mineral tax revenue used by the receiving entities? To what extent does the state provide oversight for and evaluate the use of these dollars?
2. Minnesota Board of Nursing
What are the licensing and disciplinary processes for nurses, and do they adequately protect both the nurses and the public? To what extent does the Board of Nursing review and appropriately resolve complaints? To what extent does the Health Professionals Services Program facilitate the rehabilitation of disciplined nurses?
3. Minnesota Film Board
How well has the Minnesota Film and TV Board managed and overseen state grants? To what extent have the board’s programs met its goals? How effective are Minnesota’s incentives for filmmakers compared with those of other states?
4. Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS)
Has the development of the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS) proceeded according to schedule and on budget? If not, why not, and how have problems been resolved? To what extent will MNLARS provide needed functionality and security?
To what extent has MNsure reduced the number of individuals without health insurance in Minnesota? What contributed to initial enrollment problems, and what additional costs did MNsure incur to address these problems? Were MNsure’s outreach efforts, including its marketing efforts, effective? What has been the experience of Minnesota compared with other states and the federal government?
7. Recycling and Waste Reduction
How effective are Minnesota's recycling and other waste abatement programs? Does the current funding structure provide both sufficient resources for solid waste processing and meaningful incentives for Minnesotans to reduce the waste they generate? How do Minnesota's policies compare with those in other states?
Photo: A meat processing worker.
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