Legislative Notebook: Committee Passes Minimum Wage Increase

By Danielle Killey and Don Davis

A push to raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.55 an hour was approved 9-7 Thursday by a House committee.

“Minnesota is substantially below where it once was,” bill author Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, said.

Ben Gerber of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce said the change is “detrimental to the business model in our state.

Rep. Andrea Kieffer, R-Woodbury, said the bill is “trying to micromanage” business.

The bill is one of a number of proposals to increase the state’s minimum wage, currently set at $6.15. Many Minnesota employees qualify for the $7.25 federal minimum wage.

Gov. Mark Dayton said this week that the supports a new minimum wage of $9 to $9.50.

Reciprocity could be close

Minnesota and Wisconsin are close to restoring income tax reciprocity between the states starting in tax year 2014, officials say.

People who work in one state and live in another only would have to file income taxes where they live.

A study ordered by the Minnesota Legislature released March 1 showed more than twice as many Wisconsin residents work in Minnesota as the reverse.

“I believe Minnesota has now made its best offer to Wisconsin, and I hope our neighbor will accept it,” Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, said.

The agreement Minnesota proposes includes quarterly payments from Wisconsin to make up for lost tax revenue.

Reimburse rural hospitals

Small hospitals would be reimbursed for services such as MRIs without needing extra accreditation under a plan unanimously approved Thursday by the Minnesota House.

“It’s a common-sense solution that many rural hospitals were asking for,” bill author Rep. Jay McNamar, DFL-Elbow Lake, said.

The bill exempts critical access hospitals, those with fewer than 25 patient beds, from accreditation requirements implemented last year. McNamar said those requirements meant some hospitals lost money.