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Chamber of Commerce will seek to scrap Minnesota’s wage law provisions

Plus: judge allows data breach cases against Target to go forward; Surly Brewing Co. opens new $30-million complex; Minnesota to begin enforcing several new laws; and more.

MinnPost photo by Corey Anderson

By the sound of it, Minnesota’s businesses are in a precarious position. The AP is saying, “Minnesota’s leading business group wants state lawmakers to scrap the new minimum wage law that allows for inflationary increases after the hourly rate reaches $9.50 in 2016. Officials with the state Chamber of Commerce said Thursday it was a priority to get rid of a wage-escalator provision. The chamber’s labor policy director, Ben Gerber, says the business lobby also wants to slow specified increases that will push the current $8-per-hour minimum wage up by $1.50 over the next two years.”

Oddly enough: Adam Belz of the Strib reports, “The higher minimum wage has not put a crimp on restaurant and hotel hiring. Restaurants and hotels in Minnesota added 5,000 jobs in November on a seasonally-adjusted basis, the largest monthly gain on record, according to the latest figures from the state. ‘Our increase in minimum wage is not only raising the earning power of workers in this sector, but is also not having those negative impacts on employment that many had feared,’ said Steve Hine, the state labor market economist.” It must be a job creator thing. We wouldn’t understand.

No pass for the home team. Martin Moylan at MPR reports, “A federal judge in St. Paul ruled Thursday that consumers suing Target for last year’s data breach can move forward with most of their claims. Target officials say cyber criminals stole financial and personal data for tens of millions of consumers last November and December. But they say the retailer was not to blame. U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson ruled that the consumers’ lawyers could proceed with the majority of their claims based on the consumer protection laws in certain states.”

At The Huffington Post, Kyle McCarthy tells readers about the smackdown of Globe University. “A Minnesota appellate court panel upheld a jury’s verdict ordering Globe University to pay $395,000 in compensatory damages to Heidi Weber, a former academic department head for the university. Weber sued the school after she was terminated in retaliation for raising concerns about about deceptive practices by the school including providing prospective students with inaccurate information about transferability of credits and inflating job placement numbers. … For the past several years, Globe University and other GEN schools have been plagued by similar allegations of deception. Such allegations have noticeably taken a toll on enrollment at Globe University.” What Globe needs is some prominent member of Congress to stand up for their rights.

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Also in the realm of education and squirrely finances, Tim Post at MPR says, “A group that provides school districts with training, technology and other services is working to clean up its image after a recent audit uncovered chronic financial mismanagement. The audit of Technology, Information and Education Services found nothing criminal, but it did discover that a remodeling job exploded in cost from $300,000 to $3 million. Auditors also found that sloppy bookkeeping kept the organization from collecting fees for hosting events for years. … Although TIES has saved about $500,000 by not filling vacant positions, it may have to make another $900,000 in spending reductions — likely by laying off some of the organization’s 120 staff members, and by cutting some of the services TIES offers to school districts.”

Savers, the second hand store, is still losing partners. In the Strib, Jennifer Bjorhus reports, “Another Minnesota nonprofit is dropping the billion-dollar Savers thrift store chain, after the state accused the company of deceiving the public. The Courage Kenny Foundation will stop working with Savers and its Apogee Retail arm at the end of the year, the foundation said Thursday. … The used-goods program with Savers raised about $120,000 for Courage Kenny in 2013, [Allina Health spokesman David Kanihan] said, and will likely raise about $84,000 this year.”

If you were expecting a barely-renovated old warehouse, increase your expectations. Jess Fleming of the PiPress says, “Surly, the brewery that started the craft-beer boom in Minnesota, finally opens the doors to its ‘destination brewery’ Friday. The $30 million, 50,000-square-foot facility, which straddles Minneapolis and St. Paul in the Prospect Park neighborhood, includes one (eventually two) full-service restaurants, one of which is in a giant beer hall, and an acre-and-a-half outdoor beer garden that will eventually accommodate up to 1,000 beer drinkers.”

Ignorance of these will be no excuse. At MPR, Sasha Aslanian and Nancy Yang write, “Many of the laws passed during the 2014 Minnesota legislative session take effect Jan. 1. Here’s a look at some of the more interesting changes. … Teens will be required to have at least 50 hours of behind-the-wheel training, up from 30 currently, and complete a supervised driving log before they can take the road test. Within those total practice hours, 15 must be driven at night, up from 10 currently. … [Another] new law may make it easier for reformed offenders to find work or a place to live. It lets Minnesota judges permanently seal the criminal records of reformed offenders.”

The upside? The volunteers still volunteering are a hard working bunch. Says Jon Collins at MPR, “While Minnesotans are more generous than residents of most other states in volunteering their free time, the proportion of people volunteering in the state has steadily declined in recent years. Volunteer rates in the Twin Cities and Minnesota as a whole are among the highest in the country, according to the annual survey by the Corporation for National and Community Service. About 35 percent of Minnesotans say they formally volunteered last year.”

Somebody needed to cover happy hour. The AP says, “Two Salvation Army red kettles have been stolen in Hayward [Wisconsin] in recent weeks. The Salvation Army says one of the kettles contained an estimated $400. … a few weeks ago, a thief cut a cable to steal a kettle from Walmart. [Salvation Army director Debbie] Huebner estimated it contained $300 to $400.”