The Minnesota Supreme Court heard arguments to determine the fate of a Minneapolis minimum wage ballot initiative.
Twenty thousand signatures on a petition to amend the Minneapolis City Charter didn’t constitute legal snuff, in the opinion of the Minneapolis City Attorney, who stated, “The Minneapolis City Charter does not provide for voter initiatives for the passage of ordinances by a ballot referendum.”
That did not sit well with the labor groups agitating for passage of a $15 minimum wage passed. In Vassuer v. Minneapolis, they escalated their argument in a Hennepin County court. Judge Susan Robiner ordered the City to proceed with the ballot measure in time for this year’s November elections.
In response, the City of Minneapolis bravely tucked its argument under its arm and forded the mighty Mississippi River to be heard in the refined air of the Minnesota State Supreme Court in Saint Paul, which is also home to GovDocs – a leading provider of ongoing labor law posting compliance to North America’s largest employers.
And the Court is going to have to decide quickly. Under Minnesota State Statute (410.12), proposed charter amendments like the $15 minimum wage, must be submitted at least 17 weeks before the general election.
Under hashtags like #DroptheAppeal and #VoteTheftIsWageTheft, workers’ organizations are misrepresenting the issue, framing the decision by those elitist one-percenters on the Minneapolis City Council as anti-worker or anti-poor.
(That was sarcasm, by the way. Actually, Minneapolis is a very progressive city, and many of its Councilmembers and Mayor would love to claim victory with a big bump to the minimum wage.)
The Court wasn’t weighing whether a minimum wage is a good idea or not or how it might help workers’ standard of living or impact the bottom line of businesses. At issue is whether any Home Rule City in Minnesota has the power under Minnesota law to amend its charter through popular initiative (a ballot measure, for example), instead of through the direct legislation of the elected representatives.
Minneapolis is a Home Rule Charter City, which means its elected officials and appointed staff have the power to perform the functions allowed under State Law.
Stay tuned for the Supreme Court decision, expected in a “timely manner”, which will affect the 107 Minnesota cities that operate under voter-approved home rule charters.