Minnesota Governor to Veto Paid Sick Leave Preemption Bill

Minnesota DFL Governor Mark Dayton said he would veto the Uniform Labor Standards Act, the bill passed by the Minnesota legislature which would preempt municipalities from enacting a sick leave law, among other employment regulations.  In a statement, the Governor said, in part: “It is unconscionable that Republican legislators would pit the earned financial security of hardworking state employees and retirees against the rights of local officials to make the decisions for which they were elected by their citizens….”

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MN Governor Mark Dayton

Since the bill did not pass either chamber by a two-thirds margin—the margin needed to override the Governor’s veto—the veto effectively kills the preemption bill. The bill would have voided the Minneapolis and St. Paul Sick and Safe Time ordinances, both scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2017.

The Governor’s veto does not end the Minnesota PSL Melee, described here. His veto leaves the fate of the Minneapolis and St. Paul PSL ordinances in the hands of the judicial system.  In mid-January 2017, a Hennepin County District Court enjoined implementation of the Minneapolis ordinance with regard to employers located outside of the city’s geographical boundaries but denied the injunction with regard to employers within those boundaries.  My post about that decision is here. An appeal of that decision is pending in the Minnesota Appellate court.  The outcome of that appeal would also likely affect Duluth, where an Earned Sick Leave Task Force has been studying the issue and holding hearings in anticipation of making a PSL recommendation to the City Council.

Maryland Governor’s Paid Sick Leave Veto Calls Legislature’s Hand

As he had promised, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan vetoed what he referred to as the “deeply flawed, job-killing” paid sick leave bill passed by the General Assembly.

To override the Governor’s veto, 60% of each chamber must vote to do so. While each chamber had passed the bill with enough votes to override a veto, a change of heart by just one senator could doom the override effort. In the Senate, 29 votes are needed to override and 29 voted for the bill. In the House, 87 members voted for the bill; 85 are needed to override a veto.

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An override vote cannot occur until the legislature convenes in January 2018.  That leaves many months for the executive and legislature to try to work out a compromise. The Governor prefers his “Commonsense Paid Leave Law” which, according to the statement from the Governor’s office, would “provide benefits that hardworking Marylanders deserve without hurting the state’s economy and costing jobs.” As I explained in my earlier post, the Governor’s bill goes where no leave law has gone before because it allows employees to accrue leave and use that leave for any reason. It would apply to employers with at least fifty employees while the Assembly bill applies to employers with at least fifteen employees.

When state legislative sessions convened earlier this year, I had speculated that Maryland could very well become State Number Eight to enact a paid sick leave bill. Alas, it was not to be.

Georgia Paid Sick Leave Law Does Not Require Paid Sick Leave

No, Georgia, is not State Number Eight to require employers to provide paid sick leave law.  Rather, a new Georgia law regulates the paid sick leave policies of employers that choose to provide paid sick leave.

The law requires an employer with at least 25 employees to allow an employee to use up to five days of earned sick leave to care for an immediate family member. That latter term includes an employee’s “child, spouse, grandchild, grandparent, or parent or any dependents as shown in the employee’s most recent tax return.”

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The law states that it does not “require an employer to offer sick leave.” It also states that it does not create a new cause of action against an employer so it is unclear how this law will be enforced.

Other states, including California, Connecticut and Illinois, have enacted similar laws. Georgia’s law is unique in that it exempts any employer “that offers to their employees an employee stock ownership plan.” Of the many laws dealing with paid sick leave, and the many laws exempting certain employers, I do not recall ever seeing this exemption. It is unclear to my why an employer’s providing a benefit that does not deal with paid sick leave would exempt an otherwise covered employer from a paid sick leave law.

 

Litigating Paid Sick Leave in the Land of Enchantment

Two paid sick leave lawsuits are pending in New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment. Both deal with the effort to have a voter referendum in Albuquerque in October 2017 on a local Healthy Workforce Ordinance (HWO).

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Albuquerque

One lawsuit deals with how the HWO must be presented on the ballot. A district court judge ruled last fall that the entire seven page ordinance must be on the ballot; a summary was not sufficient. An appeals court earlier this month rejected the HWO proponents’ request that an appeals court review that issue while the case is still pending in the district court. Apparently the seven page ordinance could fit on a double-sided one page ballot, according to one report. Watch for arguments by HWO opponents concerning appropriate margins and font size.

In the other lawsuit, a cadre of business interests claim that the HWO is unconstitutional “logrolling” because it combines multiple issues on the ballot, depriving voters of the opportunity to vote separately on each one. My post on that lawsuit is here.  Last December, an Arizona court had rejected an analogous “single subject” argument challenging the state-wide PSL ballot initiative held last November. Earlier this month, a Washington court reached the same result in a case challenging its state-wide PSL ballot initiative held last November.  My posts on those decisions are here and here.

On a Land of Enchantment PSL preemption note, the Uniformity of Employment Law Terms had been introduced in the New Mexico Senate this legislative term but died in committee when the session ended.  Senate Bill 488 would have prevented political subdivisions from enacting paid sick leave laws, among other employment terms.

Cook County Earned Sick Leave Opt Outs Nears Thirty

Buffalo Grove, Hoffman Estates, Oak Lawn, Rolling Meadows and Western Springs have opted out of complying with the Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance. My  list now has 29 municipalities that have nixed the Earned Sick Leave Ordinance.  I continue to watch about a dozen Cook County political subdivisions. Some will join the list before the County Ordinance’s July 1, 2017 effective date, some as soon as next week.

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I have listed the Cook County “opt-outs” on the PSL Laws and Resources page of my blog, just below the link to the Cook County Ordinance.

Cook County enacted the ESL Ordinance in October 2016. Generally, it requires covered employers to allow employees to accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. My posts about that Ordinance are here and here.

Strike Two for Pittsburgh’s Paid Sick Days Act

An appellate court has affirmed a lower court’s decision that Pittsburgh did not have the authority to enact its Paid Sick Days Act and invalidating that law.

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In its 6-1 decision, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania rejected the City’s argument that the City had the authority to enact the law under the Disease Prevention and Control Law because that law applies only to municipalities with boards or departments of health. The City of Pittsburgh has neither.

Also, the court rejected the argument that the City had the authority to enact the Paid Sick Days Act under the Second Class City Code because that code did not impose any affirmative obligation on the city to enact such law.

The dissenting judge stated that Pittsburgh has the right to protect the health and safety of its residents and that the Paid Sick Days Act was an exercise of that right.

The City and Local 32 BJ must decide whether to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

Washington Paid Sick Leave Challengers End Challenge

The cadre of business interests that had challenged the constitutionality of the Washington paid sick leave law have decided not to appeal a trial court judge’s rejection of their arguments, ending their litigation, according to a local report. My post on the judge’s decision is here.

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More than 57% of Washington voters approved ballot initiative 1433 last November. It requires employers to provide paid sick leave beginning on January 1, 2018 and increases the state minimum wage in installments, the first having occurred on January 1, 2017.

The road to paid sick leave in Washington is very similar to the road traveled in Arizona. Arizona voters approved a PSL law last November as well. A cadre of business interests challenged that law as well. The Arizona Supreme Court rejected their arguments as well. My post on that decision is here.