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Legislative Update for Minnesota Employers: Paid Leave Bills Advance, Cell Phone Hands-Free Bill Introduced

Author: Bruce J. Douglas (Minneapolis)

Published Date: February 21, 2017

Employers with employees in Minnesota—and in particular, those with employees in the cities of Minneapolis and/or St. Paul—may be interested in the status of several bills that have been introduced in the Minnesota Legislature addressing the issue of paid leaves of absence, including safe and sick leave.

H.F. No. 600 and S.F. No. 580

Bills have been introduced in the Minnesota House (H.F. No. 600) and Senate (S.F. No. 580) to preempt the safe and sick leave ordinances enacted last year by the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, which are scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2017. Both bills have cleared initial review in one or more committees and appear to be on track for passage in their respective chambers. However, it is likely that a free-standing preemption bill passed by the Republican-controlled legislature would be vetoed by Democratic Governor Mark Dayton.

H.F. No. 239, H.F. No. 1013, and S.F. No. 830

Also in the legislature are several bills (H.F. No. 239, H.F. No. 1013, and S.F. No. 830) that would provide for various types of paid leaves of absence, including paid family leave and paid safe and sick leave. In the case of paid family leave, the bills would create a funding mechanism similar to that of the unemployment insurance tax system. They would provide paid leave benefits for up to 12 weeks and would be administered by the State of Minnesota. No funding mechanism was provided, however, for safe and sick leave in the initial drafts of the bills.

None of these bills address preemption of municipal ordinances. Thus, at some point in the session, it is possible that the preemption bills (H.F. No. 600 and S.F. No. 580) and the paid leave bills could be presented to the governor as a single bill that would extend paid safe and sick leave and paid family leave to all Minnesota employees on a uniform basis and preempt municipal ordinances on the same subjects.

H.F. No. 340

On a different topic, employers may wish to pay attention to a Minnesota bill (H.F. No. 340) that would prohibit the use of a “wireless communications device” while operating a motor vehicle. Prohibited activities would include composing, reading, or sending an electronic message; dialing, answering, or talking on a cellular phone; and otherwise making a cellular phone call unless the actions could be performed on a hands-free basis. Currently, under Minnesota law, it is unlawful to text while driving or operating a motor vehicle. This bill extends the prohibition to phone calls. If it becomes law, the bill would apply to all drivers in the state of Minnesota. H.F. No. 340’s restrictions would be similar to those currently imposed on the use of handheld cellular phones and similar devices for commercial truck drivers under federal motor carrier regulations. This bill has not yet been reported out of committee.

We will continue to report on these measures—and others that would affect Minnesota employers—on our blog.

Bruce J. Douglas  (Minneapolis)

Bruce J. Douglas
Bruce J. Douglas is a shareholder in the Minneapolis office of Ogletree Deakins. He has more than 25 years of experience advising and defending employers in administrative and litigation matters in the full range of both traditional labor and employment law matters. He has represented clients in a wide range of industry lines, including manufacturing, baking, printing, resorts and lodging, finance, security, health care, insurance, communications, temporary personnel staffing,...

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