Bill blocking Mpls. wage hike clears MN Senate panel

A Minnesota Senate panel has advanced legislation that prohibits cities from imposing their own minimum wage, sick leave or other labor requirements on private local employers.

The so-called preemption legislation, sponsored by Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, would also roll back the recently-adopted sick leave policies of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Members of the Senate Jobs and Economic Growth committee approved the bill Monday on a 6-3 vote, sending it next to the Local Government committee.

Supporters say the bill would ensure fair and consistent labor standards across the state.

Dan McElroy, executive vice president of the Minnesota Restaurant Association and Minnesota Lodging Association, said multiple rules would be a burden on small businesses.

“We work very hard to keep our small business members up to speed on one set of labor regulations, and that’s the state set, overlaid in some cases by federal regulations,” McElroy said. “To add two, five or 100 other is really -- no matter how much we want to do for our employees -- having those multiple rule books is untenable.”

Opponents argue the bill is bad policy and takes away local control.

Daniel Swenson-Klatt, a bakery owner from Minneapolis said he doesn’t see a problem with a patchwork.

“I already pay earned sick and safe time to my employees,” Swenson-Klatt said. “I choose to do so. It’s the right thing to do. It costs me about one percent of my revenue. Wow, what a great investment though. My employees are happy. My community is happy. I’m happy.”

The hearing took less than two hours. An initial House hearing last week on the same bill went four and a half hours.

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