ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Democrats say they want to bolster the state’s ability to go after businesses that fail to fully compensate workers.

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith said during a Wednesday rally that the state needs to hold accountable a small number of businesses stealing from workers. The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry estimates that over 39,000 workers aren’t paid an average of $11.9 million each year in wages, overtime and benefits.

Democrats’ proposed legislation would further define wage theft, give regulators more money to investigate cases and raise penalties for businesses that have underpaid their workers.

St. Paul Rep. Tim Mahoney says the changes would help protect workers from future wage theft while aiding the investigation of over 20,000 complaints filed each year.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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