Local elected officials from Twin Cities suburbs are urging Governor Mark Dayton to veto legislation that would strip local government’s authority to raise labor standards for working people in their communities.
At a news conference Thursday at the state Capitol, they said the measure threatens the ability of citizens to have a voice.
House File 600 would prevent any local government from passing ordinances that provide working people paid sick days, paid family leave or raise the minimum wage. A recent Star Tribune poll found that 60 percent of Minnesotans oppose this “preemption” legislation.
“A clear majority of Minnesotans have made it clear they reject this corporate interference in local democracy,” said Maplewood Mayor Nora Slawik. “We’re calling on Governor Dayton to listen to Minnesotans and veto this bill when and if it crosses his desk.”
The legislation, now sitting in a House and Senate conference committee, would also retroactively repeal paid sick day ordinances in Minneapolis and St. Paul that are set to benefit more than 150,000 working Minnesotans. Those ordinances only passed after a long process that included discussion and input from stakeholders.
Unions, businesses and community groups also have spoken out to oppose the legislation.
“Local government is the closest and most responsive to citizens. If you have an issue in your neighborhood, you contact your city council member, county commissioner, or mayor first,” said Hennepin County Commissioner Debbie Goettel. “Not everyone can come to St. Paul to testify at a committee hearing in the middle of the day.”
Local elected officials interact with the people they represent every day, said Maria Regan Gonzalez, a City Council member in Richfield. “This is the essence of local government and this is why the decision-making power of local governments must be preserved and protected.”
The broadly worded legislation would enable legislators to reverse local decision-making, said Kirsten Kennedy, mayor of North Branch.
“It seems like a power grab to me,” she said.
HF 600 is one of several bills introduced in the 2017 session that would curtail local control. At least 50 different city councils have passed resolutions to oppose these bills.