Minnesota's minimum wage will begin to climb this summer, and could keep climbing every year after that, now that Gov. Mark Dayton has signed a bill that includes automatic increases tied to inflation.
The law phases in the increase, setting a $9.50 minimum wage for businesses with gross sales over $500,000 in 2016. The first increase comes in August of this year when the hourly wage goes to $8.00. It goes to $9.00 in August 2015.
The Senate Health, Human Services and Housing Committee heard testimony for and against the bill for more than two hours but delayed a vote until after lawmakers take their Easter/Passover break.
Minnesota is on the cusp of adopting one of the nation's highest minimum wages after the Senate voted Wednesday to gradually boost it to $9.50 per hour.
Supporters of the two-part measure refer to it as "Steve's Law." It's named after Steve Rummler of Edina, who died of a heroin overdose three years ago. A companion measure in the House is awaiting final action.
The rate would be tied to inflation beginning in 2018, but the commissioner of the state Department of Labor and Industry would be able to prevent automatic inflationary increases if economic conditions warrant.
Minnesota lawmakers will be busy again this week with their Easter/Passover break just ahead. But before the break, we'll see some more action on anti-bullying legislation, a supplemental spending bill, the design for a new Senate office building, the Women's Economic Security Act. It also looks like there's a deal on a minimum wage increase.
The building will have offices for all 67 Senators, including those currently housed in the Capitol and those housed in the State Office Building. Mechanical systems will be relocated to the roof.
Minnesota's Democratic-controlled House is considering a budget that spends another $323 million of the state's surplus.
House and Senate budget committees have been working on individual spending proposals that are now being rolled into larger packages. After tax cuts, lawmakers have about $600 million to work with. Another round of tax cuts is also in the works.
It's another busy week at the Capitol as state lawmakers try to finish their work on tax and spending bills. House and Senate floor sessions are planned every day, even Saturday. The fast pace has fueled speculation about a possible early conclusion of the 2014 session. But there's still plenty of work remaining, including a bonding bill, a second tax bill and a resolution to the minimum wage impasse. MPR's Phil Picardi spoke with Minnesota Public Radio reporter Tim Pugmire who covers the Capitol.
The House bonding plan will combine $850 million of borrowing with $125 million from the budget surplus.
State Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans clarified that point Thursday during a news conference to update his department's implementation of the tax law changes passed last Friday.
parents accused Gov. Mark Dayton of standing in the way of legislation to legalize medical marijuana and of bowing to law enforcement opposition. Dayton claimed the advocates misunderstood his recent comments, and said that he still wants to find a compromise this session.
DFL leaders had said they wanted quick resolution of the minimum wage bill this session. But Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk indicated that other bills have priority.