On August 31, 2016, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that a proposed charter amendment that would raise the minimum wage in Minneapolis to $15 and beyond will not appear on the ballot this November.
Earlier in August, the city council voted not to include the proposed amendment on the ballot because it believed the minimum wage could be changed only by an ordinance passed by the council. On August 22, however, a Hennepin County judge found that the minimum wage is a proper subject for a charter amendment and ordered the city to add the amendment to the November ballot.
Recognizing the importance of the issue and the resources that would be spent campaigning for and against the amendment in the coming months, the Supreme Court moved swiftly. The Court allowed the city to bypass the Court of Appeals and issued an order just one day after hearing oral arguments from the parties. A more thorough opinion from the Court is forthcoming, but the August 31 order demonstrates that the Court accepted the city’s position that changes to the minimum wage may be made only through an ordinance, not by a charter amendment proposed and voted on by the general population.
While the Supreme Court’s ruling will keep the minimum wage off of the November ballot, the city council could still raise the minimum wage in Minneapolis by passing an ordinance, and it may face substantial pressure to do so. Employers should be on the lookout for legislative developments.