Local interference bill moving through Legislature would inhibit local governments from meeting needs of their communities

Local interference bills, which prevent local governments from setting higher wage and job quality standards for private-sector employees than state law, are currently moving through the Minnesota House (House File 600) and Senate (Senate File 580).

These bills would prohibit local governments, like cities or counties, from enacting:

  1. Higher minimum wages than the state’s. Currently the state minimum wage is $9.50 for large employers and $7.75 for small employers, which is higher than the federal minimum wage but still not enough for many workers to support their families.
  2. Paid or unpaid leave policies. This bill would reverse the recent policies passed by Minneapolis and St. Paul that would enable more workers to earn paid sick leave.
  3. Policies that regulate what hours workers can be scheduled.
  4. Any local policies that require employers to provide their workers a “particular benefit, term of employment, or working condition.”

Essentially, local interference policies undermine the ability of local governments to meet the needs of their constituents, and would take authority away from the leaders who are most familiar with their communities.

While the state plays an important role in setting baseline standards, cities have historically had the power to enact higher standards in the best interest of their residents. Just as states can go beyond federal minimum standards, cities and counties at times do the same for their communities.

Take the minimum wage for example. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, but in 2014, Minnesota policymakers agreed that the wage floor in our state should be higher. Some cities around the country have set higher minimum wages that better account for their higher cost of living, including Chicago and Seattle.

Local governments also make other policy choices to improve the well-being of their residents. This has included expanding access to earned sick leave, as Minneapolis, St. Paul, Pittsburgh and Spokane have done. These cities have taken steps to ensure that their residents are better able to come into work healthy, and not lose wages when they take time off work to care for themselves or a family member. This policy can also potentially benefit businesses through lower turnover and training costs.

Local governments should be able to continue to make policy choices that meet local needs. State policymakers should not implement local interference legislation that takes this away.

-Clark Biegler

About Clark Goldenrod

Clark Goldenrod is the Minnesota Budget Project's policy analyst.
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