Local Legislator Casts Support Behind Workplace Pregnancy Leave Proposal: Pick of Our Patches

Eagan Rep. Sandra Masin (DFL) is listed as the co-author of a bill that would require employers to provide as much as 12 weeks of pregnancy leave for female workers.

In Eagan...

District 51A Rep. Sandra Masin (DFL) has cast her support behind a proposal that—if approved—would require employers to grant as much as 12 weeks of unpaid pregnancy leave to female employees.

The new law, HF 463, was introduced on Feb. 11 in the House and referred to the Labor, Workplace and Regulated Industries Committee. The bill's author is District 60B Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL), but more than a dozen legislators, including Masin, have signed on as co-authors of the proposal.

Under the bill’s provisions, an employer must grant an unpaid leave of absence to a female employee undergoing pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions for a reasonable period of time. The length of the leave is determined by the employee, but cannot exceed 12 weeks unless agreed upon by employer.

Employers are also required to provide "reasonable accommodation" for an employee for conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth or related issues, according to the proposal.

As outlined in the bill, reasonable accommodation includes seating, frequent restroom breaks and limits to heavy lifting. Employers are also required to transfer temporarily an employee to a less strenuous position for the duration of her pregnancy if she asks for it.

Current Minnesota standards require employers to give parents a maximum of six weeks of unpaid parental leave following the birth of a child, provided the company employs 21 or more employees.

But the law says little about pregnancy leave, only mandating that employers make "reasonable acommodations" for physical needs.

Masin wasn't immediately available for comment.

In Mendota Heights: Mendota Heights Nixes Pet Pigeon Proposal

The Mendota Heights City Council voted against amending city code to allow for pet pigeons at its Feb. 5 meeting.

Vince Nonnemacher, a commercial contractor who raised racing pigeons as a child applied for a permit with the planning commission to build a dovecote for pigeons in the city, according to the South-West Review.

But the city council decided against allowing pigeons out of noise and odor concerns.

"There are many different animals that people would like to have," Mayor Sandra Krebsbach said, according to the Review. "We've had people approach us about having chickens, we've had someone with goats, and we have turned those down."

In Inver Grove Heights: Sibley Swimmer Defies Odds, Survives Near Fatal Infection, and Accepts Division 1 Scholarship


So this is one of those stories that you're just not going to believe.

Part One, 2009: McKenna Pasquale is 13 years old. And Kenna, as her friends call her, decides that she wants to be on the swim team. 

The challenge: She doesn't know how to swim.

"She could splash around, but when she said she wanted to be on the swim team, we went to the library," said her mother, Barb Pasquale.

And together they checked out some videos on how to swim. And then taught her.

True story.

Part Two, 2010-11: Kenna makes the Henry Sibley High School swim team—she's a natural athlete (it helps that her mother was also, once upon a time, her gymnastics coach), but Kenna's an even stronger swimmer.

Kenna seems able to do it all: the breast stroke, the back stroke, and several distance medleys. She's on track to landing a Division 1 or Big 10 swim scholarship, possibly on the East or West coast. In December, 2011, she joins Eden Prairie's AquaJets swim team club, to prepare her for the next level.

Then tragedy strikes—serious tragedy that nearly took her life.

Part Three: Dec. 2011-Jan. 2012. Kenna starts getting sick—difficulty breathing; temperatures between 104-106 degrees.

They suspect everything from Scarlet Fever to Mono, before doctors zero in: It's an Aspirated Bacterial Infection of her right lung, an infection so deadly that four younger children that same year died in Minneapolis from it. Her condition deteriorates so badly that the national CDC gives her access to an exclusive vault of antibiotics reserved for extreme emergencies.

Doctors prepare to remove Kenna's right lung.

"We had signed the last of the papers for the surgery," Barb recalled. "It had gotten really, really bad. They told us later they were preparing for the worst—they didn't think she would make it out."

She did make it, and kept her lung. And then some.

"They told me it really helped me that I had been in such good shape," Kenna recalled this week. "I had a lot of good things in my favor."

Part Four: Feb. 6, 2013—National Signing Day.

At a ceremony at Henry Sibley, Kenna formally accepts a full swimming scholarship to the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. Actually Kenna had committed to UND back in November, and in doing so became the only senior to do so—and the only swimmer in over a decade to get signed by a Division 1 school.

Her swim times now are just shy of Junior National times and she's already met most of her new team at a recent meet at the University of Minnesota.

Oh, and she also made All-Conference with Choir. And she's the manager of the Henry Sibley boys swimming team, too.

"You'll have to forgive me, but I could go on and on about how proud we are of her," gushed her mother Barb, one last time.

Well gosh: Can you blame her?

True story.

In Shakopee: Shakopee Resident Places Fourth in Cyclocross World Championship

Shakopee resident Jessie Rients finished fourth in his age bracket (35 to 39) in the world championships of Cyclocross, a hybrid form of road and mountain bike racing.

Here's what Rients wrote on his blog about the race, which was held in Louisville, Ky.:

The final race week of the year is finally gone and done.  I ended up 4th in the final today for Master's 35-39 World Championships.  I was only 20 seconds off the podium so that was the bummer.  I had a front row call up in the #7 position which was only made better when 3 of the front row did not show up for call ups.  Talk about an amateur move (yeah, I am talking to you Russ, Haha).  I had a pretty good start but not the hole shot like I hoped.  I moved my way up to 4th by the second lap and could not close the gap to the podium.  Hollywood was out on the course yelling what lines were the fastest which helped a lot. I was pretty bummed with missing the podium but after calming down I started to feel a bit better about it.  My teammate, Tom Price was an ace in the pit.  I was able to get 1 bike per lap and without that I would not have finished.  Brandon Gavic, of 2013 FoamParty fame was also helpful in getting my pit bike ready while I warmed up.

Cyclocross is a sport, usually held in the fall and the winter, that requires competitors to traverse a range of terrain, including pavement, grass and obstacles. It is popular in Belgium, France and the Netherlands.,


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