By the end of the week, the Minnesota Legislature will approve a measure to hike the state's minimum wage to $9.50 an hour, DFL leaders said on Monday.
The deal on minimum wage will allow DFL lawmakers to start with April recess next week with another major agenda item ticked off.
"This session is really starting to come together," said Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook.
The final agreement would phase in the wage hike by 2016, by which time most large businesses would have to pay their workers $9.50 an hour. Smaller businesses, those with gross sales under $500,000 a year, would be able to pay workers $7.75. Businesses employing workers aged 16 and 17, teenage workers during a 90-day training period and workers in the country on J1 visas would also be permitted to pay employees $7.75 an hour.
After 2018, the minimum wage would continue to rise as inflation increases. Those increases would be capped at 2.5 percent, meaning that the most that year's wage could be is $9.74 an hour.
“I congratulate the House and Senate leaders for reaching agreement on Minimum Wage legislation. I am very pleased that it will raise Minnesota's minimum wage to $9.50 per hour, and index it to inflation. I look forward to signing this legislation into law,” DFL Gov. Mark Dayton said in a statement.
The deal would also allow the Department of Labor and Industry to suspend any automatic increases during a "substantial downturn in the economy."
The hard-fought deal won praise from the Raise the Wage Coalition, a group of advocates that have long pushed for a minimum wage increase.
"This is great news for all Minnesotans," the group said in a statement.
President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota Jamie Gulley said that a minimum wage hike with an automatic inflator "will improve the lives of working families in Minnesota who have been left behind for far too long. ”
But the deal won brickbats from Republicans running for governor. Both Sen. Dave Thompson and Rep. Kurt Zellers, two of the half a dozen Republicans seeking to oust Dayton this year, said immediately after DFL leaders announced the wage deal that they would work to rescind the wage increase and the automatic inflator if they became governor.
Zellers said he would support raising the wage to $7.25 an hour, which is the current federal minimum.
If the deal announced Monday becomes law as expected, the first increase -- to $8 an hour -- would be in place by August of this year.
Patrick Condon contributed to this report.
Here's the language of the measure:
See our live blog of the 10:30 a.m. deal announcement below.
Gov. Mark Dayton will deliver his (late) State of the State address at 7 p.m. on April 23 from the Minnesota House chambers.
The 67-year-old governor was away from Capitol in the early part of this year as he recovered from hip surgery. Then, once he returned to the Capitol, he proposed the April 23 date and got a caution signal from lawmakers.
"Well, you know we might not be in session then," Dayton said he got in response. Lawmakers had been hoping to finish their work before their mid-April break.
“We certainly don’t want them to use the excuse of the State of the State as the reason they are coming back," he said last week.
Since then, lawmakers realized they would be back at the Capitol after their break, giving him certainty that the April date would work.
The date Dayton has settled upon is later than any governor's State of the State address since Gov. Floyd B. Olson's December address in 1933, according to records kept by the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library.
Two governors in recent memory did not give State of the State speeches -- Gov. Jesse Ventura skipped the big speech in 2000 and Gov. Rudy Perpich did so in 1986.
Gov. Mark Dayton checked into Regions Hospital in St. Paul briefly Wednesday afternoon for doctors to check on an elbow he bruised over the weekend.
Dayton was experiencing discomfort during the day and decided to get it checked out around 4 p.m., said Dayton spokesman Linden Zakula.
“Regions took great care of him,” Zakula said.
Dayton was heading home around 6:30 p.m. and planned to resume working at the governor’s residence.
He is expected to be back and the Capitol on Thursday and will resume his normal schedule. He has a 9 a.m. radio interview planned and meetings throughout the day.
The governor had hip surgery earlier this year and spent a month working from the governor’s residence while he recuperated.
Medical marijuana supporters are airing a new ad on Minnesota TV stations that criticizes Gov. Mark Dayton for not supporting a proposal at the Capitol to legalize it.
The ad features a Minnesota mother with a five-year-old son who suffers a rare disorder she said causes him multiple seizures every day. Angela Garin of Inver Grove Heights said her son Paxton's seizures were drastically reduced with exposure to medical marijuana on a trip to Oregon, where the family was able to access it legally.
In the ad, Garin urges viewers to "tell Gov. Dayton to support Paxton and stop blocking access to medical marijuana."
Heather Azzi of Minnesotans for Compassionate Care said the ad was paid for by the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington, D.C.-based group that advocates nationwide for medical marijuana legalization. She would not disclose the cost of the ad buy but said it is statewide.
The ad is set to start airing Wednesday night during the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and the Late Show with David Letterman, and then during several morning news and talk shows on Thursday. Azzi said the group is likely to air a second ad starting next week.
A bill to legalize medical marijuana in Minnesota has been much discussed at the Capitol this year, but has made little legislative progress. Advocates are planning a news conference outside Dayton's office on Thursday to deliver a petition in support of the bill. Advocates have been particularly critical of Dayton, alleging that in a recent private meeting with medical marijuana supporters that the governor suggested they could buy the drug illegally. Dayton has denied that.
The ad can be viewed here.
Gov. Mark Dayton expressed disappointment Wednesday in House Democrats’ bonding proposal, criticizing it as underfunded and saying that an agreement last year between DFLers and Republicans to bond no more than $850 million should be rescinded.
“There’s certainly capacity to go higher than that,” Dayton said. “It’s an impossible task to try to meet all those needs, and the urgent needs should be funded.”
Dayton’s remarks came the day after the House released its proposal to fund nearly $1 billion in state projects. Their bonding bill would be funded by two sources: $850 million from the sale of state construction bonds and another $125 million from the state’s budget surplus. Dayton said he disagreed with the cash-for-bonding measure.
“I’ve said to both leaders in the House and Senate that we don’t use cash for bonding bills because that’s the whole purpose of bonding, you put cash down and expand the scope of projects dramatically,” Dayton said. “Putting cash into a bonding bill to me is antithetical to the whole purpose of that enterprise.”
Dayton expressed concern that the bill only includes $20 million for Capitol renovations, saying the Department of Administration needs $125 million in hand soon to fulfill necessary construction contracts. There, he would support using cash to meet that deadline in order to keep construction costs down.
Dayton made his remarks following a news conference with Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans, in which they urged the estimated 1 million Minnesotans who have yet to file their taxes to do so starting today to receive tax cut benefits.
Dayton also said he would deliver his State of the State address April 23 in the House chambers, when the Legislature returns from recess. He said he hoped the date would provide a strong incentive for the Legislature to adjourn before then, “but it didn’t seem to have that effect.”