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Despite veto threats, House passes mixed-bag uniform labor bill

By Ricky Campbell
House Photography file photo

Pleading for brevity as the Legislature entered its third day of a deadline-neglecting special session, Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) said his uniform state labor standards bill was predestined for failure. Fifty minutes later, the House passed the bill 75-48.

“Everyone knows what’s in this bill, everyone knows how the governor is going to take action on it; I’d ask members to vote consistent with their conscious,” Garofalo said.

The bill, SS SF3, already passed the Senate where Sen. Jeremy Miller (R-Waconia) is the sponsor. It heads to Gov. Mark Dayton, who previously vowed he it would be vetoed because it bars cities from enacting minimum wage ordinances.

Rep. Pat Garofalo

Additions to the special session version of the bill include removing sweeping changes to public pensions and extending already-negotiated labor contracts and public employee paid family leave.

“It’s so cruel to put the fate of working people who’ve worked so hard for these benefits in a bill that’s destined to be vetoed,” House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) said. “And by doing that, you’re denying to the workers of Minnesota who have already negotiated these contracts their rights to have these parental leave they’ve negotiated.”

Proponents of the measure say the state needs uniform labor laws so local governments can’t enact ordinances that create a patchwork of standards for businesses.

“I’m a real big believer in pre-emption,” Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Vernon Center) said. “We have pre-emption already in the gun bills, remember that? Pre-emption so we don’t have a patchwork of different laws in every in city and county. And this is a good idea – pre-emption – so we don’t have a patchwork of labor laws in liberal cities like Minneapolis making up their own things and holding the businesses hostages.”

Garofalo added that it isn’t just “progressive” ordinances like minimum wage hikes prohibited through the bill. Citing examples of counties in Kentucky, Garofalo said local governments could enact “conservative” policies like disbanding public labor groups and paycheck protection.

“Today I am afforded a luxury that is rarely offered to politicians: that is, I get to say, ‘I told ya so,’” Garofalo said. 

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