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UPDATE ON MINNESOTA PAID FAMILY MEDICAL & SICK LEAVE BILL

NOTE FROM APPLE VALLEY CHAMBER PRESIDENT ED KEARNEY:
This transformative bill has steep opposition from the business community, especially small businesses. With the Governorship and both the Senate and House all in the same party (trifecta), IT WILL PASS. Why? Because they can. Simple. It just was passed through the House Human Services Committee and continues to move forward.
It’s the collective hope of Chambers throughout the state working together to bring the inevitable bill into parity with the 11 other states which have a similar program. All but one state offers a maximum leave of 12 weeks (the other 16 weeks). Minnesota’s bill would allow up to 24 weeks (12 for Medical and 12 for Family Leave). Just last week a similar bill was passed allowing up to six more days off per year for sickness. Add regular company sick days leave and many people with 3-weeks to a month’s vacation not to mention another 6 days paid sick leave also just passed and you may have many employees who might be off up to a long 30 weeks/yr and work only 22 weeks and job guaranteed.
DEED Commissioner Steve Grove who brought this idea forward as he testified he enjoyed it in California himself and he will administer the entire new department as part of DEED. Commissioner Steve put in his notice last week and will be the new President of Star Tribune and no longer with DEED. So with him gone, let’s rethink this entire program, and make it reasonable at least for small businesses. We feel it should exempt small businesses who are struggling so often after a pandemic and likely recession in cue. Construction unions were allowed amendments on the smaller 6 day sick-leave bill passed last week. We want the same for small businesses under 50 much like the Federal Leave Act has. This is excessive as written.
We have put together the following bullet points to update you on the current state of the bill and what action items we are focusing on and actions you might take:
  • In terms of “amending” the bill to make it somewhat more palatable, we are focused on the following:
  • Limit the leave to 12 weeks (not 24)
  • Adopt the scope of what is defined as a family member similar to FMLA (Federal Medical Leave Act).
  • Exempt employers with 50 or fewer employees (again same as the Federal Act.) Start with big businesses.
  • We looked up the bill’s authors (35 total) and were surprised one of our own Apple Valley State RepresentativesRobert Bierman is one of the 35 authors. Contact him first with your concerns or how it affects your business.
  • We recommend any other communications from you be directly to the Governor, House Speaker and Senate Majority Leader. In a related separate bill which is Paid Sick Leave up to another 6 days per year was passed last week. The construction unions were allowed a House amendment to give them options on that related bill. Precedent was set and we want the same for small businesses on this major bill similar to the Federal Medical Leave Act already in place for employers over 50 employees. Don’t experiment with small businesses.
  • Convenient Start After 2025 Election—We are less worried about the start of the bill which would take effect well after the next election in July 2025 with 350 new employees in a new department administered by DEED. We checked the Washington State annual report and they keep adding over 100 employees each year and now in their 5th year. It is the uncontrolled growth that is the greater concern, not the start.
  • Employers Responsibility— Under this bill, employers would be required to submit electronically a quarterly wage detail report, including for each employee in covered employment during the calendar quarter, the employee’s name, total wages paid to the employee, total number of paid hours worked, number of employees, and other information as prescribed by the DEED commissioner. Intrusive!
  • Employees Pay Also—The bill would require all employers to pay a yearly premium on employee taxable wages, paid quarterly into the family and medical benefit insurance account and calculated based on the wage detail report. The bill would allow an employer to deduct up to 50% of the premiums paid by the employer from employee wages.
If you have any further input, contact the Governor or Legislative leaders:
Governor Tim Walz
Speaker Melissa Hortman
Senate Majority Leader Kari Dziedzic
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