Two months after triumphantly signing a major hike in Minnesota's minimum wage into law, Gov. Mark Dayton told a newspaper: "It may be that we have to fine-tune it."
According to the Rochester Post Bulletin, the DFL governor said that his restaurant-owning sons made the case that tipped employees should be treated differently than other hourly employees.
"I understand my sons' frustration with the tip credit issue. They make a very articulate case," Dayton said in a meeting with the newspaper's editorial board last week, according to a report.
Minnesota minimum wage advocates have long opposed any kind of tip credit.
Although there are many ways to include such a credit in wage laws, essentially if a credit is permitted employers could pay employees less than the state minimum with the understanding, or even guarantee, that tips would more than make up the gap. Most states allow a full or partial tip credit. Minnesota does not.
Restaurant and hospitality groups have long advocated for a tip credit, saying that without it businesses will suffer. That plea went unheeded.
Although the DFL Legislature battled over many details of the minimum wage law last year and this year, lawmakers never moved toward adopting a tip credit.
Instead, it approved a wage law that would slowly increase the state's minimum wage from $6.15, where it has long stagnated, to $9.50 an hour by 2016. The first bump will come this August when the lowest paid hourly workers would see their wages jump to $8 an hour.
According to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, many of the Minnesotans who earned $7.25 an hour, the federal minimum, or less received tips.
Matt Swenson, Dayton's spokesman, said that the governor made the remark about fine tuning in answer to a question. He said the governor is not advocating any changes in the law in the near future.
"Governor Dayton is proud of the bill he signed into law this session, which raised the wages of more than 325,000 Minnesotans," Swenson said. "He does not support or advocate any changes to that law at this time.”
A leading group opposing Minnesota Democrats has launched its first television advertisement attacking DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and the state’s health insurance exchange.
The 30-second ad ties President Obama’s health insurance overhaul with the troubled launch of the state’s health insurance exchange, MNsure.
"Barack Obama and Mark Dayton promised Minnesotans that Obamacare would help make things better,” said Ben Golnik, chairman of the Minnesota Jobs Coalition. “MNsure remains a mess defined by missed goals, lost policies and bonuses for executives who failed in their jobs. Dayton is so out of touch with Minnesotans he even claimed Obamacare was working 'phenomenally well.'"
Dayton’s campaign dismissed the ad as misleading.
"The reality is that today more Minnesotans than ever have access to quality healthcare at the lowest rates in the nation – with MNsure reducing the number of uninsured Minnesotans by 40 percent in its first year,” said Dayton campaign manager Katharine Tinucci, citing a new University of Minnesota study.
The ad is part of a larger strategy in which Republicans nationally are blasting Democrats over the health insurance overhaul. Democrats are starting to punch back hard with stories of Americans who have been helped by the program. They are also highlighting that Republicans have not unveiled an alternative.
“This is a reminder of the Republican approach that would bring Minnesotans back to the days of out of control healthcare costs, discrimination against preexisting conditions, and lack of coverage for basic services like mammograms," Tinucci said.
Golnik said they will spend somewhere around $50,000 to run the ad statewide on cable and digital broadcast. That is generally not enough money to give the ad significant statewide reach.
The head of Alliance for a Better Minnesota, the main outside group attacking Republicans, would not say when they will launch their first ad.
"When it's strategically smart" said Carrie Lucking, executive director of Alliance for a Better Minnesota.
She also jabbed Golnik's group, however, saying that the group would not run "an ad attacking Obamacare the day after we learn that it's reduced our uninsured rate by 40 percent."
Here's the ad:
DFL Gov. Mark Dayton is traveling to Washington, D.C., Wednesday to push for federal money for the Lewis & Clark fresh water pipeline in southwest Minnesota.
Dayton will attend a meeting hosted by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. The governor, U.S. Sen Al Franken, D-Minn., and other members of Minnesota's congressional delegation plan to stress the water project’s economic importance to southwestern Minnesota.
Minnesota's political leaders are pressing the federal government to commit funding to reduce or eliminate any additional costs to area residents and local governments.
Minnesota legislators approved an agreement at the end of the last legislative session that speeds the full payment for the $77 million project, which means local communities don’t have to wait for the full federal portion.
On Thursday, Dayton and ten Minnesota business leaders will meet with senior White House officials for a roundtable discussion on Minnesota’s rebounding economy.
Later that afternoon, Dayton will attend a celebration at the White House to honor the Minnesota Lynx for winning their third WNBA Championship in 2014.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Marty Seifert is challenging opponents to refuse campaign contributions from lobbyists.
The former legislator from Marshall claims he has never accepted lobbyist contributions in his previous campaigns and will hold to that standard his newest quest for the governor's office.
“Not accepting lobbyist contributions so far this election ... has made my campaign unique,” Seifert said Tuesday in a statement. “I feel strongly that my opponents should also agree to live by this same standard.”
The other gubernatorial campaigns could not immediately be reached for comment.
Seifert has twice lost the GOP endorsement for governor. He is now running in an Aug. 12 Republican primary against the GOP endorsee Jeff Johnson and Orono businessman Scott Honour, who has tapped his personal fortune to beef up his fundraising efforts. Former House Speaker Kurt Zellers, a Maple Grove Republican, is also running in the primary.
DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, who has tapped his personal wealth to finance previous campaigns, has agreed to limit his campaign spending to about $3.6 million in his quest for re-election.
The Minnesota Department of Health, which will administer the state's brand new medical marijuana program, is looking to hire someone who can run it.
The agency posted a job ad at the end of last week for chief administrator of a new division, the Office of Medical Cannabis. Gov. Mark Dayton signed the medical marijuana program into law last week, with an expectation that about 5,000 patients with a range of maladies could have access to compounds of the cannabis plant starting in July 2015.
The words "cannabis" and "marijuana" are interchangeable in reference to the drug, but the plant genus is properly known as cannabis. Many advocates have adopted that word in an attempt to avoid the negative cultural and legal connotations of the word marijuana.
According to the job posting on the state of Minnesota's employment website, the administrator of the Office of Medical Cannabis will be responsible for developing the program's vision and staffing plan, managing its budget, and overseeing the private contractors that will grow and distribute cannabis to patients. Other job duties will include communicating with the governor's office and state lawmakers, law enforcement and the media.
The administrator will report not directly to the commissioner of health, but rather an assistant commissioner for strategic initiatives. Pay for the position will be between $73,811 and $105,862 annually, according to the job ad, and the state is taking applications through June 20.
Experts have described Minnesota's fledgling program as unique compared to 21 other medical marijuana programs around the country. Minnesota will be the only state that will prohibit patients from possessing plants and smoking marijuana. Instead, participants will have access to cannabis compounds in oil or liquid forms, and will consent to have their treatment closely monitored by the Department of Health.
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