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Ken Warner: Chamber supports immigration bill

Minnesota businesses value the contributions of immigrants to our state. Their roles as workers, entrepreneurs and consumers are important to the development and growth of our economy and our communities.

We support H.F. 1500 for workforce and public safety reasons.

Our labor participation rate is second highest nationally. Demographics indicate that as our population continues to age and our economy grows, Minnesota will not have the numbers of people needed to meet labor market needs.

In the next few years, our population will include more individuals over the age of 65 than school-age kids 5-17 years old. Additionally, over the past 17 years, Minnesota has lost population to other states. Immigrants are a key to this challenge.

Minnesota employers rely on immigrant workers to serve their customers. To do this safely, workers should complete driver's license training, testing and licensing requirements, including securing insurance.

We believe this will make roads safer for all drivers. It's ironic people who live among us and driving illegally can be dangerous for our safety, therefore we need to support a policy that can mitigate our safety.

We support comprehensive federal immigration reform. As we wait for solutions on the federal level, the state also has a role in dealing with state-specific issues on this matter.

This legislation addresses a state-based concern and a state employment and public safety need.

Ken Warner, President

Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce