House Republicans walked out of a committee meeting Friday to protest the late addition of a policy provision that Democrats made to the omnibus tax bill.
DFL members of the House Ways and Means Committee approved an amendment requiring "labor peace agreements" for publicly-subsidized projects built in large cities and counties. The measure specifically covers hospitality workers and their employers in facilities such as hotels, sports facilities and civic centers.
The requirement is an appropriate protection, said DFL Rep. Tim Mahoney of St. Paul.
"What this means is that the projects can continue in a timely fashion without any disruption, which costs less to the taxpayers, less for the county taxpayers and less Tums for the developers," Mahoney said.
Most of the GOP complaints were about process. Republicans accused Democrats of ramming through significant policy language without holding a hearing on the issue. They also raised concerns about forcing such agreements on local governments.
Republican Rep. Michael Beard of Shakopee also questioned the policy, saying, "Nothing voluntary here. You're asking the power of government to compel people whether they want to or not to join in these labor protection schemes.
"I'm sorry, but that's such a severe overreach that doing it in this committee and in this way is something I'm just going to have to ask for a no vote on."
DFL Rep. Tom Anzelc of Balsam Township said his amendment would prevent disruptions on projects where the public has a vested interest. The full House is expected to vote on the tax bill next week.