Sen. Erik Simonson stands up for Minnesota workers

ST. PAUL, MINN – A bill that strips power away from local governments passed the Senate on Thursday by a thin party-line vote. Sen. Erik Simonson (DFL-Duluth) voted against the measure, and explained to his Senate colleagues that Duluthians had been working diligently on an earned sick and safe time policy for over a year – and that if this bill is signed into law, it will crush their hard work.

“Preemption has a clear and definitive purpose – but this bill isn’t one of them. It should NOT be used to silence the voices of local governments or restrict access by the people. The state legislature’s job is to set minimum standards, not maximum standards. We should not be restricting the authority of local governments to implement what is best for their communities. This bill strips away local decision making power – including the work Duluthians have been putting in over the last year on an earned sick and safe time ordinance. Rather than create “uniform standards” as Republicans have argued, it silences voices that are asking for change,” said Sen. Simonson.\

Background

The bill, called the Uniform State Labor Standards Act, is part of a national narrative put forth by the Chamber of Commerce and ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) to attack workers and the autonomy of our locally elected officials.

The bill would prohibit the enactment of labor compensation/benefits at the local level. As written, the bill has three core components that prohibit local governments from:

  • Establishing a minimum wage
  • Requiring businesses to provide sick and safe time
  • Establishing rules relative to benefits, terms of employment, or working conditions
  • The effective date would make the bill retroactive for ordinances that were enacted on or after January 1, 2016.
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Erik Simonson represents District 7 in northeastern Minnesota.

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