“General Judgment” Adds Insight to Oregon Paid Sick Leave Settlement

The lawsuit brought by nine counties challenging the Oregon Paid Sick Leave Law was settled last month. My post about that settlement was based on a newspaper report. I now have the official “General Judgment,” which provides insight into the circumstances that led to the settlement.

A bit of background to put the settlement in context. A Linn County judge last December agreed with the plaintiff-counties that Oregon’s Sick Leave Law was an unfunded liability. My report on that decision is here. The Oregon Constitution states that if a local government must spend more than one hundredth of one percent of its budget on an unfunded program, the local government need not comply with the law.

Following the December ruling, the parties engaged in discovery concerning whether the plaintiffs had met the .01% financial threshold. Following discovery, the parties stipulated that Linn, Douglas and Yamhill Counties met that threshold and “would be “more likely than not to continue to satisfy the financial threshold in this manner in future years if they continued to comply with the paid sick leave law,” according to the Court’s General Judgement. The Court concluded that those three counties “may lawfully refuse to comply with the Paid Sick Leave Law unless and until the Legislative Assembly allocates sufficient funding for the program, or identifies and directs the imposition of a fee or charge to be used by plaintiffs to recover the actual cost of the program, or circumstances change such that” the county no longer meets the financial threshold.

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The other six plaintiff-counties withdrew from the case. While the General Judgment does not explain why they withdrew, I is likely that they were unable to meet the financial threshold.

While a settlement typically ends a litigation, in this settlement, the State has reserved the right to appeal the judge’s decision that the Sick Leave Law is a “program,” as that term is used in the state constitution.  Now the State must decide whether to appeal that decision.

The Oregon Sick Leave Law requires employers with at least ten employees (six in Portland) to provide up to forty hours of paid sick leave annually. Smaller employers must provide unpaid sick leave. This litigation dealt only with the plaintiff-counties as employers. It did not involve private employers.

Court Rejects Albuquerque Healthy Workforce Ordinance Challenge

One day after hearing argument on the challenges to the constitutionality of the proposed Healthy Workforce Ordinance, the judge rejected them all, clearing the way for the October 3 ballot initiative to proceed. Subject to an appeal, of course.

A cadre of business interests had claimed that the HWO violated the state constitution because it violated the “single subject” rule, i.e., was impermissible logrolling; exceeded a home rule municipality’s authority and the territorial reach of the City; and because ordinances may not be enacted by voter initiative. The Intervenor-Defendants, representing employees without earned sick leave and HWO proponents, had moved to dismiss all of these arguments.  In a 10 page opinion, District Court Judge C. Shannon Bacon granted that motion.

courthouse-1223280_640Last week, a judge in the proponents’ HWO litigation issued a decision concerning the logistics of the ballot.  With the HWO opponents’ litigation now dismissed, no obstacles stand in the way of the ballot initiative on October 3, approximately seven weeks from now, although appeals are possible in both litigations.

Regular visitors to my blog are familiar with my axiom about paid sick leave voter initiatives: whenever voters are asked whether they would like paid time off from work, they will say ‘yes.’ My axiom proved true in, for example, Arizona, Washington, Massachusetts, Milwaukee (since preempted), Oakland and San Diego, CA, SeaTac, Trenton and Montclair, NJ.  Will it hold true in Albuquerque as well?

Paid Sick Leave Focus Shifts to Albuquerque Lawsuits

After spending most of the past few months on the [20% of] Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance, the PSL focus shifts to Albuquerque, the Duke City.

Two lawsuits are pending concerning the Albuquerque ballot referendum on the Healthy Workforce Ordinance (HWO)–one brought by HWO proponents, the other by opponents.

My earlier post concerning the judge’s recent decision in the proponents’ lawsuit was based on a newspaper report. Thanks to a little help from my friends, I now have the judge’s decision, which adds some insight. According to that decision:

  • The HWO will be on the October 3, 2017 ballot, and will be printed in 7-point type on a single two-sided page, 8 1/2 in. X 19 in,;
  • The City will have “magnifier devices” and copies of the proposed HWO in 12-point type available to voters at the polling places;
  • The City’s proposed “advisory question” is stricken from the ballot because it “employs semantically ‘loaded’ terms and clearly implies that the proposed HWO is not transparent, fair, wise or workable. It is likely to mislead, confuse, or misdirect the voters….[and] is an inappropriate attempt to inject political advocacy onto the ballot and into the election process.”
  • The stricken proposed advisory question asked: “Shall the governing boy of CABQ [City of Albuquerque] promptly enact a sick leave ordinance in a manner that promotes pubic participation, public hearings, transparency and fairness so that a wise and workable sick leave policy is adopted…””

Concerning the opponents’ litigation, a hearing was held in court yesterday. The judgechopped-wood-1846182_1920 did not issue a decision on the HWO at the hearing. My post about that “single subject,” aka “logrolling,” case is here.

Finally, for those who have not had enough of the [20% of] Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance, I added the Village of Dixmoor to my opt out list, which now has 110 entries.

 

 

Arizona Supreme Court Explains Rejection of Paid Sick Leave Challenge

The Arizona Supreme Court yesterday issued an opinion explaining its March 2017 rejection of a state constitutional challenge to Proposition 206, a ballot initiative approved by voters last November. Codified as “The Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act,” Proposition 206 increases the minimum wage incrementally and, effective July 1, 2017, requires most Arizona employers to provide paid sick days.

A cadre of business interests sued, claiming that the Proposition violated state constitution’s Revenue Source Rule, Separate Amendment Rule, and Single Subject Rule

In rejecting these arguments, the Court said that the Separate Amendment Rule only applies to proposed constitutional amendments, not to proposed statutory changes such as Proposition 206, and that the Single Subject Rule only applies to acts of the legislature, not voter initiatives.

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The Court also said the Proposition did not violate the Revenue Source Rule because a “mandatory expenditure of state revenues” only occurs when it directly causes an expenditure of state revenue. The Court held that the Proposition directly causes an expenditure of state revenue only to implement and enforce the law and that, for those activities, the law states that they shall be funded by civil penalties paid by employers.

Based on this opinion, I am deleting the Arizona case from the PSL Litigation Docket.

 

 

A Font Fight in Albuquerque

The legal wrangling about presenting the proposed Healthy Workplace Ordinance to Albuquerque voters in October has been going on for about a year. One of the two lawsuits deals with the mechanics of presenting the proposal on the ballot. A judge had ruled that the entire seven page ordinance must be on the ballot and that a summary would not do. At the end of my post about that decision, I urged readers to watch for arguments concerning the ballot’s font size and margins.

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Last week, HWO proponents filed an emergency motion to stop the City from printing the HWO on the ballot in 7-point font.  They claim a ballot in 7-point is “illegible and [an] illegally-small font size.” They argue that the font size should be at least 8.5-point to comply with federal voluntary ballot guidelines which, they claim, New Mexico has incorporated into its law.

Proponents also renewed arguments that the ballot should contain a summary of the HWO and that a “legible, large-text copy” of the ordinance be provided in each voting booth.

 

Split Decision in Counties’ Challenge to Oregon Sick Leave Law

Three of the nine counties that sued to be relieved from complying with the Oregon Sick Leave law– Linn, Douglas and Yamhill – have prevailed in their challenge. The other six plaintiff-counties have dropped their challenge. 

A Linn County judge last December agreed with the plaintiff-counties that Oregon’s Sick Leave Law is an unfunded liability. Round One to the plaintiff-counties. My report on that decision is here.

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The Oregon Constitution states that if a local government must spend more than one hundredth of one percent of its budget on an unfunded new program or increased level of service, the local government “is not required to comply” with the law.  Round Two dealt with whether the counties met this spending threshold on the PSL law. A trial had been scheduled for mid-July to resolve that issue.

The case has been settled. The judge had ruled that Linn, Douglas and Yamhill had established the .01% threshold, according to a news report.  The other plaintiff-counties dropped their challenge. The State has reserved the right to appeal the judge’s decision that the Sick Leave Law is an unfunded liability.  

The Oregon Sick Leave Law requires employers with at least ten employees (six in Portland) to provide up to forty hours of paid sick leave annually. Smaller employers must provide unpaid sick leave. This litigation dealt only with the plaintiff-counties as employers. It did not involve private employers. 

 

 

 

 

Minnesota Paid Sick Leave Redux

It began with the Fracas in Minneapolis, here, and evolved to the Minnesota Melee, here.  Let’s revisit the state of PSL in the North Star State.

  • Minneapolis and St. Paul each passed a Sick and Safe Time Ordinance about a year ago, each to be effective on July 1, 2017.
  • A cadre of business interests sued to enjoin the Minneapolis law.
  • In January 2017, a Hennepin County District Court judge declined to enjoin the Ordinance with regard to businesses within the geographic boundaries of Minneapolis but enjoined its enforcement with regard to businesses outside of those boundaries.
  • Each side appealed, We are awaiting a decision from the Minnesota Court of Appeals, which heard oral arguments on the appeal on July 11.
  • Minneapolis and St. Paul have implemented their ordinances, effective July 1, with regard to employers within the city limits.
  • The Duluth Safe and Sick Time Task Force continues apace on its mission to make a recommendation to the Duluth City Council later this year.
  •  Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton vetoed the bill passed by the Minnesota legislature which would have preempted municipalities from enacting a sick leave law, among other employment regulations.  It would also have negated the Minneapolis and St. Paul Sick and Safe Time ordinances.minnesota-31510_1280

In sum, the state of PSL in the North Star State is:

  • Minnesota is not a preemption state.
  • Minneapolis and St. Paul PSL ordinances are partially in effect, but a judicial cloud hangs over them.
  • The judicial outcome likely dictates Duluth’s PSL future.