Senate to file brief in child care unionization suit

by T.W. Budig
ECM Capitol reporter

A Senate committee today (Dec. 1) voted to file a friend of the court brief supportive of a lawsuit filed early this week in Ramsey County District Court that attempts to block the child care unionization vote Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton recently ordered to take place.

Sen. Amy Koch
Sen. Warren Limmer

“That to me is the central issue,” said Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch of the perceive violation of separation of powers by Dayton. Koch, R-Buffalo, represents a Senate district that includes Otsego.

Republicans on the Senate Rule and Administration Committee repeatedly echoed the theme that Dayton is attempting to usurp lawmaking powers rightfully the domain of the Legislature.

Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, whose district includes the Rogers area, argued it didn’t matter whether the Senate had taken such a legal step before — the moment called for action, he argued.

Lawmaking is not the role of an individual “potentate” sitting in some corner office at the State Capitol, Limmer explained.

“There must be politics involved in this,” quipped Sen. Richard Cohen, DFL-St. Paul, the sole Democrat who attended the hearing.

Cohen, an attorney, argued that former Republican governor Tim Pawlenty through executive order made sweeping changes in state policy dealing with sex offenders, but the Senate did not get involved in any lawsuits at that time, he said.

“That’s immaterial,” Limmer argued.

The child care unionization law suit, filed by a group of day care providers, will go before a Ramsey County District Court judge at 9 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 5.

The committee tasked Senate legal counsel with filing the friend of the court brief.

Union activists denounced the Republican-controlled Senate legal action.

“We will not be their piñata again,” said Lisa Thompson, a leader of Child Care Providers Together/American Federal of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 5 union, in a statement.

“I wish these tea party Republicans spent as much time protecting kids as they do blocking unions,” she said.