Another Republican wedge issue to divide Minnesotans?
The Republican-controlled State House of Representatives has passed a bill, using the concept of "pre-emption," which blocks cities and counties from raising wages or setting workplace benefits for their residents, such as paid sick and family leave, which are higher than the state guidelines.
Is there anyone reading this who works for wages that would not like an increase in the minimum wage? Is there anyone who does not have it through their employer that would not like to have paid sick and family leave?
Representatives Green and Grossell voted to prevent the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, with their high cost of living, from setting a $15 minimum wage and requiring employers to provide paid sick and family leave.
Sen. Paul Utke told me recently that he is also supporting this action, and will vote for it in the Senate.
Why would they do this? Two reasons, both of which I think most local readers will think are not in our interest.
First, the big businesses and the Chamber of Commerce in the Twin Cities lobbied against the bill and got Republican support so they can avoid paying a living wage to their Metro employees.
And don't think for a minute that not allowing higher wages and benefits in the Metro area will not depress wages and benefits here in the Northland. Both Green and Utke are or were small business owners who would be loathe to pay higher wages or offer better benefits to workers, because that would reduce their profit margin.
Understood, small business are the backbone of our rural communities. But Green, Grossell and Utke are representing us, not just their own interests and those of business.
Second, the Republicans have won control of the State House and Senate by setting the Metro area against Greater Minnesota.
For instance, the Republican State House and Senate are also using "pre-emption" to prevent the Metro area from funding, at a cost to their own citizens, not those of us in Greater Minnesota , transit projects such as the light rail projects.
If the Republicans prevail, the nearly billion dollar commitment from the federal government to assist in building the Southwest Light Rail project will be lost.
So much for the Republican claim that they are the party of small government. When it serves their financial backers from the business community, they are for intrusive government.
They are in a race to the bottom for workers' wages and benefits, and we, the people that Green, Grossell and Utke are supposed to be representing, will be the losers.
In using pre-emption to stop light rail development, they are preventing the Metro economic engine for all Minnesotans from working. The Green line from St. Paul to Minneapolis alone has generated over $2 billion of new development.
These businesses will pay state taxes and frankly, support our roads, bridges and other programs that we in Greater Minnesota depend upon. It is an underhanded and dishonest thing that Green, Grossell, Utke and the Republicans are doing in calling their legislation "Fair Labor Law."
They are setting Minnesotans against one another for political gain without delivering anything to us. Rural Broadband? Better roads and bridges? All empty promises by the Republicans. President Kennedy said decades ago, "a rising tide floats all boats." Don't let the business-oriented Republicans fool you. They are doing the bidding of their keepers and not doing what would be for the common good for all Minnesotans.—Howie Anderson, Ponsford