What's next for the $15 minimum wage and police insurance push?


Will Minneapolis residents get to vote on establishing a $15 minimum wage in November?

We don't know that quite yet – but because of a looming deadline, we'll likely find out soon.

The City Council voted last week to block a charter amendment proposal that would have let voters decide whether to adopt a $15 minimum wage in Minneapolis.

The City Council's decision led to a quick lawsuit from 15 Now Minnesota. On Friday morning, Judge Susan Robiner heard oral arguments from the minimum wage supporters, as well as the City of Minneapolis.

The arguments from the city, as well as the minimum wage group's representing attorney Bruce Nestor, were pretty in the weeds (which Robiner even acknowledged at one point).

It partly involved a disagreement over the scope of the term "local municipal function" in state statute 410.07 (see what we mean about "in the weeds?").

No matter what the disagreement however, there's a tight deadline that's making a ruling from the judge urgent.

They've got two weeks

Some background:

Hennepin County is in charge of making sure ballot questions actually are printed on the ballots for Nov. 8. To do that, they need to have all of the information well ahead of time, and there's a deadline for cities to provide that information: Aug. 26.

At that point, the county has to start putting together the ballots to prepare for absentee voting, which opens Sept. 23.

If a ruling on the minimum wage charter amendment doesn't come by Aug. 26, it could make the next step (getting the question on the Minneapolis ballots, if the ruling goes in the group's favor) much more difficult.

Nestor told BringMeTheNews they and the city have to file briefs in the case by Wednesday, Aug. 17; both sides then have through that Friday, Aug. 19, to reply to the briefs.

Nestor said he hopes to have a ruling from the judge early that next week then, just days before the county ballot deadline.

During the arguments, Robiner acknowledged the quickly approaching deadline, and said she'll be thinking long and hard about the case.

Also on a deadline: Insurance for police officers

The same day the City Council blocked the $15 minimum wage charter amendment, they also voted to reject another charter amendment proposal – one that would require the city's police officers to have professional liability insurance beyond what's currently supplied by the city.

And also like the minimum wage case, a group filed a lawsuit, and oral arguments were heard Friday morning by Robiner.

Once again, the argument got pretty in the weeds. But broadly speaking, attorney Tim Phillips said the amendment can coexist with a state statute that requires cities to pay for defense and indemnity of employees such as police officers. The city's attorney disagreed, and said the amendment blatantly violates that state law.

Just like minimum wage, that Aug. 26 deadline is bearing down.

Michelle Gross, one of the people who filed the lawsuit against the city and a member of the Committee for Professional Policing, said after the hearing they'll have to file briefs by next Wednesday and responses by that Friday – then hope to have a ruling by early the next week.

After the police insurance hearing, a couple dozen supporters of the amendment walked through a portion of the city's skyway system, chanting and holding signs.

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