The Minnesota Supreme Court has finally issued its Order stemming from this summer’s City of Minneapolis $15 minimum wage roller coaster. On July 28, 2016, I wrote about Vote for 15MN’s petition to the City of Minneapolis to amend its Charter to require a $15 minimum wage by 2020 for large employers, and 2022 for small employers. If Vote for 15MN had its way, it would have forced the City of Minneapolis to put a ballot question for the general election which would ask voters to decide whether the City of Minneapolis Charter should be amended to require all Minneapolis workers to be paid at least $15 by the year 2020 for 500+ employers and 2022 for smaller employers (and thereafter adjusted based on the consumer price index).
However, later that day, the City of Minneapolis Attorney publicly filed a memorandum declaring that the proposed Charter was inappropriate for a ballot referendum. Vote for 15MN filed a lawsuit, Vasseur et al. v. City of Minneapolis et al., Court File No. 27-CV-16-11794, (Minn. Fourth Judicial District, Aug. 22, 2016), forcing the issue. On August 22, 2016, Hennepin County District Court Judge Susan M. Robiner held in favor of Vote for 15MN, and resurrected the $15 minimum wage ballot question for the City of Minneapolis to put on the November 8, 2016 ballot, which I wrote about here. Not surprisingly, the City appealed Judge Robiner’s Order to the Minnesota Supreme Court for accelerated review. Funny enough – by that point, I refused to write about and speculate how I thought this would turn out! Not a bad idea on my part…as it turns out, the City of Minneapolis Attorney was correct in her analysis.
On August 31, 2016, the Minnesota Supreme Court revised the District Court’s order, concluding the proposed minimum wage amendment falls exclusively within the authority vested in the City Council over legislation and policy making. Given the accelerated nature of the review, the Minnesota Supreme Court deferred its detailed order on the issue, which was released yesterday. In sum, the Court opined:
Because Minneapolis residents do not have legislative and policymaking authority under the City Charter, we hold that the district court erred in granting the petition and ordering the City to place the wage amendment on the ballot for the general election.”
Accordingly, this issue is dead in the water for this method of changing minimum wage in any Minnesota city. That being said, certainly this is a movement that is not going to go away, so I expect the $15 minimum wage campaigns to continue, and perhaps statewide legislative efforts in lieu of City efforts.