MN House Votes to Block Mpls & St. Paul Minimum Wage Ordinances

Protesters for $15 minimum wage on Nov. 29, 2016 15 Now Facebook Photo

SAINT PAUL, MN –  A House bill blocking local governments from enacting minimum wage and sick time ordinances passed 76-53 on March 2, 2017.  The bill also would retroactively rescind any related local laws passed on or after Jan. 1, 2016; which directly affects labor ordinances passed by Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The House Session Daily reported Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington), who sponsored HF600, said, “This law simply clarifies what has been state labor policy for over 100 years.” He warned that without the legislation, some cities might enact local ordinances unfavorable to workers.

A four hour debate preceded the mostly party-line vote on the Uniform State Labor Standards Act that would prohibit local governments from adopting or enforcing four types of regulations:

  • paying minimum wage rates higher than the state minimum wage;
  • requiring a private employer to offer paid or unpaid leave;
  • giving advance notice about work schedules; or
  • providing particular benefits, employment terms or working conditions.

The bill would not limit local government’s ability to impose labor policies with respect to their own workforces, or to require such policies of employers with whom they contract or to whom they provide financial assistance. (House Session Daily)

According to MPRNews, Garofalo expects if the bill goes to Gov. Mark Dayton as is, it would be vetoed.  Garofalo is hoping a compromise with the Senate version will make a veto less likely.

The piecemeal approach of city-by-city labor law variation threatens jobs, Republican Rep. Jim Nash of Waconia said.  “I have a friend that owns restaurants in multiple places and they have employees that go back and forth. The back office paperwork is a nightmare,” Nash said. (MPRNews)

The debate drew large crowds to the Capitol, with opponents claiming that ordinances such as those passed by Minneapolis and St. Paul that raise minimum wage and improve working conditions will improve working people’s lives.  

“Advocates for this bill keep saying that it’ll create a patchwork quilt of different regulations all over the state,” said Rod Adams of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change. “But as we know, the lives of workers of color are just a patchwork quilt, working two to three jobs to just patch together income, to just make ends meet.” (MPRNews)

The bill now heads to the Senate where it is sponsored by Sen. Jeremy Miller (R-Winona).

Andrea Mayer-Bruestle

Andrea Mayer-Bruestle is a former writer for Alpha News.