President Obama made good Tuesday on a promise to veto a bill approving construction of the Keystone pipeline. In his veto message, the president called the bill an effort to "circumvent" an established review process that needed more time to consider "security, safety and environmental" issues. Republican leaders in the U.S.. House and Senate must now decide if they will try to override the veto. Without a wildly unlikely change in Democratic votes, it will be impossible to override the president's veto and make the pipeline approval law. An override effort move would begin in the Senate and require a two-thirds majority vote, before moving to the House, where another two-thirds majority would be required to make the bill law. The Keystone bill passed the House with Minnesota's three rural Democrats - Collin Peterson, Rick Nolan and Tim Walz - voting for it with Republicans John Kline, Erik Paulsen and Tom Emmer. Democrats Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum voting against it. In the Senate, Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, both Democrats, voted against Keystone. Both have said they will not vote to override a Keystone veto. Neither will Minnesota House members Ellison or McCollum.
A House committee is expected to reconvene and vote Monday evening on a bipartisan bill that would cap that minimum wage for tipped employees at $8 an hour following pointed testimony on the measure.
Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, is the chief sponsor of H.F. 1027 that would revise the state's minimum wage law and create an exemption allowing employers to pay tipped workers a lower base wage. The bill also has three DFL co-sponsors.
Crafted and supported by the Minnesota Restaurant Association, the proposal would cap tipped employees wages at $8 an hour. The proposed pay rate would apply if, after factoring in tips for each two-week period, those workers earned a total of at least $12 an hour. If they didn’t, they’d get the full state minimum wage.
Several labor-affiliated groups and restaurant servers testified in opposition of the bill, including the AFL-CIO and Working America. The Job Growth and Energy Policy Affordability Policy and Finance committee will reconvene Monday night to finish debate on the bill and vote.
Members of the DFL Senate and House unveiled a series of bills Thursday aimed at providing paid family leave, earned sick leave, among other workplace protections, they said would give Minnesotans economic security.
House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said the package of bills is a "response to the real challenges facing families."
The labor-backed proposals contained in the so-called Working Parents Act have been unveiled in recent days and include a measure by Rep. Rena Moran, DFL-St. Paul, that would end erratic, last-minute scheduling of hourly workers by employees.
Another measured sponsored by Rep. Carly Melin-DFL-Hibbing, and Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, would create penalties for employers who skimp on workers' pay. Proponents on the measure say wage theft is a problem that disproportionately affects low-wage and immigrant workers.
The other bills would:
-- Provide sick leave for an estimated 1 million Minnesotans to care for themselves or family.
-- Another bill would prohibit restaurants from deducting credit card processing fees from their servers' tips.
-- Paid family leave would give families up to six weeks of paid leave to bond with a new child, care for an elderly or ill family member or deal with pregnancy-related health concerns.
No cost of the bills was available Thursday.
House Speaker Kurt Daudt said legislative leaders had reached a deal on pay raises for the governor's cabinet.
The raises granted earlier this year, some of them as much as $35,000, have upended the legislative session and exposed a gulf between Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Crown and Gov. Mark Dayton, even though they are both DFL elected officials.
Daudt, R-Crown, said the deal would again require that the Legislature approve future commissioner pay raises, which ended with 2013 legislation that gave the governor discretionary power to set his cabinet salaries.
The deal would also delay the current round of raises until July 1. Finally, a stopgap spending bill expected to pass the House today for several state agencies will include a reduction commensurate with the raises given to those agency commissioners.
Daudt said he wanted to end the disagreement so the Legislature could move ahead on the stopgap spending bill: "Some of this is money that would help keep the St. Peter security more secure," he said, referring to the troubled Minnesota Security Hospital psychiatric facility.
"And so this is pretty needed funding, and we wanted to make sure we got that funding out the door," Daudt said.
Gov. Mark Dayton, Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk said Wednesday they were close to striking a deal that would settle a festering dispute over the governor's recent pay raises for his agency commissioners.
Talks over those pay raises blew up last week between fellow DFLers Bakk and Dayton, who called the Senate majority leader "conniving" and a backstabber who had lost his trust.
Daudt, a Republican, has apparently been acting as an intermediary of sorts between the two DFLers; Daudt and Dayton met Wednesday morning at the governor's residence, and Daudt and Bakk have also been in touch in recent days. The goal has been agreeing on a budget deficiency bill that would include some sort of provision responding to Dayton's commissioner pay hikes, which have drawn the ire of both Republican and Democratic lawmakers.
"The governor is eager to get the focus of the session back to the priorities of Minnesotans," spokesman Linden Zakula said. "To that end, he is working with House and Senate leadership to pass the deficiency bill and bring the salary dispute to an end."
The budget deficiency bill contains about $16 million for several state agency that need small cash infusions to reach the June 30 end of the state's fiscal year. But it got wrapped up in the pay raise dispute after Bakk led an effort in the Senate to delay the pay raises until July 1.
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