Last week, the Minnesota House of Representatives voted to pass legislation that would remove the ability of local governments to establish wage and benefit ordinances. The measure would both invalidate existing ordinances and make any future attempts to pass such laws ineffective. One set of ordinances the measure would nullify would be the paid sick leave ordinances passed by both Minneapolis and St. Paul in 2016.
The legislation is apparently part of a wider national movement to curb the passage of local ordinances by passing preemption legislation. As of now, 16 states have preempted local ordinances on paid leave, with some also preempting minimum wage ordinances as well. Arizona has even managed to pass a “blanket preemption” measure, which prevents local governments from passing ordinances on any matter for which the state has already passed legislation.
Compared to other states, Minnesota has a relatively permissive approach to preemption, with only local gun control ordinances being preempted at present, but that could change now that Republicans are in control of the legislature. One policy effort that would be impacted by the passage of the legislation would be the attempt to establish a $15 minimum wage for the city of Minneapolis. Such a measure is likely to go up for vote later this year.
From the standpoint of employee rights, preemption is obviously not a favorable cause. Should the above-mentioned legislation eventually be passed, it will be more important than ever for employees in Minnesota to understand their state and federal rights, particularly with respect to wage and leave protections, and to work with an experienced attorney when those rights are violated.