Bill to prevent cities from setting minimum wage passes committee hearing

A bill to restrict cities from passing a higher minimum wage than the state is speeding its way through legislature. It passed another key hearing today as opponents are trying to make the proposed law less restrictive.

The bill, HF 600, is called the Uniform Labor Act and it would prevent cities from setting their own minimum wage and sick leave policies.

The protests in Minneapolis for higher minimum wage and sick leave policies were loud and clear last year.

Republican lawmakers want to stop local labor ordinances to even the playing field for businesses across the state.

“And so by having this uniform labor standard, we can avoid this patchwork and problematic measures that are involved with that," said Rep. Pat Garafalo (R) 58B. 

A hearing on Wednesday showed the bill has powerful allies.

"This power grab by cities is breathtaking and unprecedented," said Adam Hanson of the Associated Builders and Contractors.

But the League of Minnesota Cities says local government should be able to set their own ordinances.

Minneapolis city council member Elizabeth Glidden says the council passed a sick leave policy only when the state would not.

"We value support for business, but this must be balanced with support for workers," said Glidden. 

She also has the backing of Governor Dayton.

"It's not about 850 cities in Minnesota passing their own different statutes; it's about the business community trying to keep the wages down in Minneapolis and St. Paul," said Dayton in a phone conference.

But for now, none of that matters. DFL members tried amending the bill on Wednesday to force sick leave policies for workers who are pregnant or fighting cancer and they were voted down.

The bill easily passed committee and now goes to Ways and Means and will quickly make its way to the House floor.