Senate working group to hold listening sessions on child care

The Minnesota Senate has convened a bipartisan Child Care Access Working Group, chaired by Sen. Bill Weber (R-Luverne), to explore issues related to the child care shortage that affects communities across the state, particularly in Greater Minnesota.

The working group plans to hold a series of listening sessions to hear public testimony on issues related to child care access and affordability. The group will also visit local child care facilities to learn more about the challenges faced by the providers, and they will meet with local economic development authorities to discuss how the lack of child care options contributes to Minnesota’s workforce shortage.

The first listening session will be held Monday in Willmar, followed by Lake City on Sept. 10. Additional listening sessions are expected to be added at a later date.

Willmar Listening Session
Monday, Aug. 13, 6-8 p.m.
Fire Station Training Room, 515 2nd St. SW

Lake City Listening Session
Monday, Sept. 10, 6-8 p.m.
Lake City Public Library, 201 South High St.

2018 Gubernatorial Forum: Focusing on issues important to Greater Minnesota

Join the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, Greater Mankato Growth and the Greater Minnesota Partnership on Thursday, July 26 for a forum featuring the leading candidates in the running to be Minnesota’s next governor! Confirmed participants are DFL candidates State Rep. Erin Murphy, Attorney General Lori Swanson and Congressman Tim Walz and GOP candidate Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson. Former Governor Tim Pawlenty, who is challenging Johnson in the GOP primary, has also been invited. Marvin Rhodes, general manager of KEYC News 12, will serve as moderator.

The 90-minute forum will be from 7:30-9 p.m. in the Grand Hall at the Verizon Center in Mankato. The event is free and open to the public; doors open at 7 p.m. Please see this event flyer for more information. Continue reading

Join us for upcoming GMNP events!

As we dive into the month of July, we encourage you to mark your calendars for a few  upcoming GMNP events:

GMNP Membership Meeting

The GMNP’s annual membership meeting will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, July 26 at the Verizon Center in Mankato (1 Civic Center Plaza). The meeting will include a brief recap of the GMNP’s activities from the previous year, a discussion on possible 2019 priorities, budget overview and a recruitment discussion.

The meeting will be held in conjunction with the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC) Summer Conference (see info below). If you are planning to attend the meeting, there are a few options for GMNP members:

  1. You can attend the meeting only (no cost)
  2. You can attend the meeting and the keynote luncheon featuring MN Dept. of Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey, which is immediately following the meeting ($15 for the cost of the meal)
  3. You can attend the full three-day CGMC summer conference ($260)

Continue reading

Lawmakers take action on child care regulations, but new funding proposals fall by the wayside

The GMNP advocated for three pieces of legislation this session that aimed at reducing the child care shortage in Greater Minnesota: funding for initiative foundations to help provide training to expand access to quality child care; a program modeled after the BDPI grant program which could assist communities to build, upgrade or expand facilities; and additional funding for the Greater Minnesota Child Care Grants Program to increase child care availability.

The latter bill, sponsored by Rep. Dave Baker (R-Willmar), ultimately gained traction. Originally started as a modest investment in the 2017 session targeted at helping providers expand, this grant program saw large results – creating more than 300 new child care slots with only $500,000 in funding. However, additional funding for this program fell victim to end-of-session maneuvering: the GOP combined several bills into one large supplemental budget bill, hoping to force the Governor’s hand on several provisions. The Governor vetoed the bill last week. Continue reading

Notes from the Capitol: Legislative Update

The 2018 legislative session is rapidly coming to a close. The State Constitution requires the session to end on Monday, but it also requires that bills be passed no later than midnight on Sunday. Here is where some of the top issues currently stand:

Capital investment bill – The House passed their capital investment bill (“bonding bill”) with bipartisan support on Monday. However, the Senate failed to pass their version of the bill. The vote was 34-33, with all Republicans voting yes and all Democrats voting no. The bill failed since the capital investment bill requires that 60% of the body must vote yes in order for it to pass. In the Senate, that means the bill needs at least 41 votes to pass. The DFL members want a larger bill, closer in size to Governor Dayton’s $1.5 billion proposal.

With only a few days left to reach an agreement, it remains unclear whether lawmakers will be able to negotiate a deal and pass a bonding bill this session. Continue reading

Join us for the GMNP annual meeting July 26!

The GMNP’s annual membership meeting will take place at 11 a.m. on Thursday, July 26 at the Verizon Center in Mankato. All members are encouraged to join us!

The meeting will take place in conjunction with the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities Summer Conference. GMNP members are also invited to participate in the entire three-day conference. The cost for the full conference is $260.  To register for the conference, please go to greatermncities.org/summer18.

If you are only attending the GMNP meeting, there is no cost. Members who can’t attend the full conference are also welcome to stay for the noon luncheon presentation after the meeting (the cost is $15 for the meal).  Final details are being worked out for the lunch presentation, but they are generally very informative. If you would like to attend the lunch but not the full conference, please let us know by contacting Julie Liew at jlliew@flaherty-hood.com. Continue reading

Senate committee learns about causes, impacts of child care shortage

Little Falls City Administrator Jon Radermacher and Scott Marquardt of the Southwest Initiative Foundation discuss the impact the child care shortage has on economic development.

Little Falls City Administrator Jon Radermacher and Scott Marquardt of the Southwest Initiative Foundation discuss the impact the child care shortage has on economic development.

The Senate Agriculture, Rural Development and Housing Finance Committee held an informational hearing this week on the child care crisis. The hearing was originally scheduled to last only two hours, but it ended up extending another 90 minutes due to the amount testimony and discussion on the topic.

The hearing was chaired by Sen. Bill Weber (R-Luverne) who asked the GMNP and our sister organization, the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, to testify and assist in finding others who could testify to the impact the child care crisis is having on economic development in Greater Minnesota. GMNP Executive Director Dan Dorman presented along with Scott Marquardt of the Southwest Initiative Foundation and Little Falls City Manager Jon Radermacher. Continue reading

Screaming at the Capitol … and you’re invited!

ice creamWho doesn’t want free ice cream?

Once again, all Greater Minnesota Partnership members are invited to join our sister organization, the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, for an end-of-session lobby day and ice cream social at the State Capitol next Wednesday, May 9. More information about the event can be found on the CGMC website here.

This has been a very successful event in the past and one of the few times during the session that you will be able to visit with so many legislators. The event is free, but we encourage you to register at greatermncities.org/icecream2018/. Continue reading

Application due April 30 for the Rural Child Care Innovation Program

(Information below provided by First Children’s Finance)

Child care is an economic driver for rural communities across the United States but many communities are facing shortages of high quality child care. While many communities have child care shortages, only some are ready to roll up their sleeves and embark on the journey to address this critical community issue.  Preference will be given to communities who demonstrate commitment to the community engagement process over an 18-24 month period.

Through generous funding from the Minnesota Department of Human Services, First Children’s Finance is pleased to offer the Rural Child Care Innovation Program, an innovative community engagement process designed to address the challenges of child care in rural America.

Rural Child Care Innovation Program
Applications due April 30th at 5:00 pm
Click here to apply 

For More Information:
RCCIP website: www.ruralchildcare.org
Click  here to listen to the webinar

Child care bill gains steam

GMNP Executive Director Dan Dorman and SMIF President Tim Penny met with Sen. Erik Simonson and other legislators to discuss the need for more child care options in Greater Minnesota.

GMNP Executive Director Dan Dorman and SMIF President Tim Penny met with Sen. Erik Simonson and other legislators to discuss the need for more child care options in Greater Minnesota.

The CGMC- and GMNP-supported HF 2424, authored by Rep. Bob Gunther (R-Fairmont), received a hearing in the House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee last week. This bill would provide a total of $1.5 million to the six state Initiative Foundations to help facilitate planning, professional development and business training primarily for in-home child care providers. Child care centers are not excluded from the bill, but most of those who will receive training will be in-home providers.

The funding is based on a program developed by the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) in Owatonna. SMIF partners with Child Care Aware, First Children’s Finance and others to deliver no-cost programming in order to build capacity and help providers improve their Parent Aware star rating which will increase the reimbursement amount for providers. SMIF has provided training to more than 500 people in the last four years. The training is held at multiple locations in their service territory, with much of it occurring on weekends and nights in order to accommodate more providers.

If the bill is successful, it will allow SMIF and the other foundations to offer this much-needed assistance all across Greater Minnesota.

SMIF President (and GMNP board member) Tim Penny and Southwest Initiative Foundation Vice President Scott Marquardt did an excellent job testifying in support of the bill at the committee hearing, where the bill was laid over for possible inclusion in the House omnibus jobs bill.

If you have any questions about this bill or other child care initiatives that the CGMC and GMNP are pursuing, please contact GMNP Executive Director Dan Dorman at