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.
State revenue officials will offer more detailed advice to tax filers today about that tax bill that Legislators passed and sent to Gov. Mark Dayton on Friday.
The $440 million tax cut package provides a long list of credits and deductions by lining up state and federal tax codes. It also repeals three new business sales taxes including a warehousing tax that was scheduled to start April 1. The bill also increases the state budget reserve by $150 million and sets up future increases each time there's a budget surplus.
The Senate Tax Committee approved the $432 million package that repeals three business sales taxes and aligns Minnesota tax policy with federal tax policy. Lawmakers were poised for a vote of the full Senate in the afternoon, but DFL leaders did not receive the needed Republican votes to waive the rules to allow for same-day action.