Judge orders $15 minimum wage to be on ballot

- A Hennepin County Judge has ordered the City of Minneapolis to include a proposed charter amendment to raise minimum wage to $15 per hour on the ballot in the November.

Earlier this month, the City Council voted not to place the amendment on the ballot. The city attorney had ruled that wages are not appropriate to be put in city charter, but should be an ordinance. After the council voted it down, the petitioners filed a lawsuit.

Judge Susan Robiner explained in her decision that the city's interpretation of the charter was too narrow.

"City Council attempted to give big business cover by voting against putting $15 on the ballot. But today’s decision strikes a blow against the influence of downtown business interests,” said Ginger Jentzen, Executive Director of 15 Now Minnesota. “Now we’re going to wage a massive campaign, and call on all $15 per hour supporters and working people in Minneapolis to build this grassroots movement to win in November.”

Steve Cramer, President and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, and John Stanoch, Interim President & CEO of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce released the following joint statement in response to the judge's decision:

"We believe that the District Court ruling in this matter is wrong and we urge the City to appeal. The ruling creates an expansive and dangerous precedent and opens the door to initiative and referendum style governance in our City which is plainly not provided for by the Minneapolis Charter. The ruling should be appealed to preserve the integrity and purpose of the charter amendment process, and avoid a chaotic future of ballot questions being forwarded by multiple interest groups on all matters pertaining to the “health and welfare” of Minneapolitans. Minneapolis elects a Mayor and City Council every four years for many reasons. One important reason is to address questions like minimum wage policy through their legislative process which permits input and careful deliberation on consequential policy matters."

The group, Vote for 15 Minnesota, proposed companies with 500 or more employees should start paying $10 per hour minimum wage starting on Aug. 2017, raising incrementally each year to reach $15 per hour in 2020. For businesses with less than 500 employees, the companies would have to pay $15 per hour minimum wage by 2022.

Groups in support of the minimum raise change will be hosting a rally and press conference Tuesday morning to announce their next steps.

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