Minnesota Supreme Court Rejects Minneapolis Minimum Wage Ballot Initiative
On August 31, 2016, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued an order agreeing with the Minneapolis City Attorney that a ballot initiative could not be used to enact a new minimum wage in the City of Minneapolis.
In late July of this year, the Minneapolis City Attorney issued a legal opinion that concluded that a petition with 20,000 signatures in support of a ballot initiative to amend the City Charter to include a $15 minimum wage was not a proper subject for a ballot initiative. Following the City Attorney’s advice, the City Council agreed not to include the ballot initiative on the ballot for the upcoming election in November. Labor activists then challenged the City’s position in Hennepin County District Court. Last week, the district court disagreed with the City and ruled that the $15 minimum wage should be included on the ballot in this November’s election. The City appealed the district court’s decision.
On appeal, the Minnesota Supreme Court reversed the district court and sided with the City. The Court reasoned that city charters may or may not provide for the enactment of an ordinance through the ballot initiative and that the Minneapolis City Charter does “not authorize the proposed charter amendment.” Vasseur et al. v. City of Minneapolis, et al., No. A16-1367 (Minn. Aug. 31, 2016).
Takeaway: The $15 minimum wage ballot initiative for the City of Minneapolis will not appear on the ballot this November.