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.

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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.

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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.

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