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Protect our Local Business Community and Tax Payer – City Ordinances

Nicole Bengtson
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Advocacy & Public Policy, Editorials

Inver Grove Heights/South Saint Paul  (March 2018)– Over the last few years, the urban core centers of Minnesota have been the target for aggressive city ordinances by progressive advocacy groups that do not conform to state rules and regulations.  Instead of introducing and passing legislative items at the federal and state branches of government, these groups have focused their policy efforts at local municipalities to pass ordinances.

This movement began in New York and California to increase the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour.  This effort, “Fight for $15,” became the launching pad to expand local wage increase ordinances along with additional workplace regulations such as scheduling, sick leave and safe leave.  In 2015, Minneapolis was the first city in Minnesota to introduce and pass sick and safe leave regulations, and 15.00 per hour minimum wage without any carve-outs for tipped employees.

Saint Paul has passed its own version of sick and safe regulations and is now considering a $15.00 minimum wage without any consideration for tipped employees.  As the President of the River Heights Chamber of Commerce, a local Chamber that borders the urban core, I’m on the front lines to defend my business community and other Chambers of Commerce in the metro, regional marketplace.   Patchwork regulations forced upon the business community is simply not good for our current commerce and certainly not helpful to attract new businesses to the region.

Groups that are proposing these types of local ordinances have strategically targeted municipalities where they are politically aligned and can force these mandates without the proper scrutiny for the public and elected officials to consider.   In November of 2017, the Minneapolis Star Tribune revealed that the city of Minneapolis lacks the funds to fully enforce the new labor laws that were passed.

On a state level, a fiscal review and note are produced when new legislation is being introduced and debated.  This helps in identifying what the impact will be to enforce the proposed law and what it will cost those who will be affected by it.  Unfortunately, special interest groups are aware that local governments do not have the same review process and the taxpayer might only learn of the cost after the ordinance is changed, when it’s too late.

Local chambers of commerce and municipalities need to be aware of this targeted effort and be prepared to have a thoughtful conversation in advance of proposals reaching our community.  I plan to sit down with our local officials to begin these discussions and make sure all the information is considered before entertaining a special interest group from outside of our community’s plan to target our area and leave us to pick up the bill.  Please contact me to share your thoughts on this issue by contacting the River Heights Chamber of Commerce at 651.451.2266.

About River Heights Chamber of Commerce
The River Heights Chamber of Commerce is a business organization who aggressively promotes the interests of the business communities of Inver Grove Heights and South St. Paul. The organization is volunteer-driven and strives to attract and retain businesses to keep the business community thriving. The River Heights Chamber continues to provide value-added opportunities for all members. Visit our website www.riverheights.com to learn more!

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