Child care bills receive first hearings

Scott Marquardt, Sen. Carla Nelson and Heidi Hagel-Braid testified in support of the legislation.

On Wednesday, the Senate Family Care and Aging Committee heard the two Greater Minnesota child care bills. This was the first action on the GMNP’s child care efforts in either chamber. SF 537, authored by Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) would appropriate $3 million to the six Minnesota Initiative Funds for their continued efforts to help child care providers build sustainable businesses, grow the child care workforce and stabilize the industry. SF 538, authored by Sen. Jerry Relph (R-St. Cloud), would create a $10 million capital grant program to build new or expand existing child care facilities to increase capacity in the community.

Testifying in support of the two bills were Dan Dorman, executive director of the GMNP; Tim Penny, president and CEO of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation; Scott Marquardt, vice president of the Southwest Initiative Foundation; and Heidi Hagel-Braid, chief program officer with First Children’s Finance. The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce also spoke out in favor of both bills. Stacy Stout, the Chamber’s director of workforce and education policy, highlighted the negative impact that the child care crisis in Greater Minnesota has on businesses’ ability to expand and hire employees.

The bills will continue their hearing process in the Senate. We expect the House committees to start considering the bills in the coming weeks, starting in the Early Childhood Finance and Policy Division.