Minneapolis will try for $15 minimum wage – right after lawmakers moved to block it

The city is starting the new minimum wage process hours after state lawmakers passed a bill to block them from doing just that.
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The City of Minneapolis said it's readying a plan to gradually up its minimum wage to $15 an hour.

And made the announcement just hours after state lawmakers passed a bill that specifically bars cities from doing exactly that.

City workers will start drafting an ordinance outlining how Minneapolis will move up to this new minimum wage figure, according to a news release, after the City Council voted Friday to move things forward.

The $15-an-hour minimum will be phased in. Large businesses will get four years (from when the proposal is approved) to reach that figure, while smaller businesses would get even more time, the release explained.

It will apply to anyone who works in the city for any amount of time. After the full $15 target is hit, it will be adjusted going forward based on inflation. There will be no tip credit – so someone who works a job that includes tips will still have to be paid $15 an hour. (You can read more about the potential impact of that decision here.)

The city itself started looking at its options after the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled a minimum wage question couldn't be put to voters on a ballot. Minneapolis this year held more than a dozen listening sessions to get feedback.

State lawmakers are trying to block it

As mentioned above, state legislators have been making moves to stop cities from implementing their own minimum wage or sick leave policies.

Late Thursday, the state House and Senate approved a bill that includes language doing exactly that. It's referred to as "preemption" by critics (mainly Democrats), who argue it takes control away from local governments. Supporters of such language (Republicans, generally) call it a "uniform labor standards" bill, and argue having patchwork pay laws around the state is ultimately a negative thing.

Gov. Mark Dayton has said (twice) that he will veto a bill that contains the preemption language.

The version passed Thursday however includes a twist. Lawmakers shoved the preemption/labor standards language into a bill that also includes funding for pensions, paid parental leave, and raises for state employees. It was essentially a strategy to get Dayton's signature – turning it into law – by including things he favored and didn't want to block.

The governor however still promised to veto it earlier this week, before it passed, calling it "unconscionable" and accusing GOP lawmakers of pitting workers against each other.

He has three days under state law to decide what to do with this bill. He can sign it, and it will become law. He can outright veto it. Or he can do nothing – if he doesn't sign it, the bill becomes law (where in an even-numbered year, it results in a "pocket veto.")

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