ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — State lawmakers took a step Thursday night toward barring cities like Minneapolis from setting their own minimum wage.
A house committee passed a bill that would prevent local governments from creating their own labor laws. That means Minneapolis wouldn’t be able to set its own minimum wage. It would also nullify the paid sick leave ordinance passed last spring.
Politics are often one side of the aisle versus the other. But Thursday night, the line was often drawn between employers and employees.
“I urge you and I beg you to pass this bill,” said Deepak Nath who owns The Pourhouse in downtown Minneapolis.
“My whole working life I have been a number and an easily replaceable number,” said Katie Drahos, a retail worker.
For several hours, members of the Committee on Job Growth and Energy Affordability and Policy listened as people argued for and against the ability to give local governments the power to set their own labor laws.
Committee chair Rep. Pat Gorafalo (R-Farmington) drafted the bill that would stop that from happening.
“I think the important thing is we have 854 cities in our state and so we can’t have it differently, every law in every single city. It would just lead to anarchy,” he said.
But to Arline Datu it would lead to a fair shake for her family.
“My daughter works at a restaurant in St. Paul and has had to go to work sick because she needs the money to pay her rent, utilities and groceries,” she testified.
Nath’s argument sided with several other small-business owners. He sid he values his employees but he worries not passing the bill would hurt his bottom line and not his competitors in other cities.
“Imagine you’re a business on the city limits of Minneapolis and a competitor across the street is not under the ludicrous rules and taxes. Your prices will be 30 percent higher. You don’t htink customers will notice,” he asked the committee.
Besides preventing cities from setting their own minimum wage and sick leave, it would prevent them creating regulations on hours and scheduling.
It would also prevent cities from requiring employers to provide specific benefits or terms of employment.
The bill now heads to the Committee on Government Operation.