Special Session Needed For MN Budget Deal

MN legislators failed to meet Monday’s midnight deadline to finish a new budget and moved to immediately return to the Capitol to finish their work in a special session. A tentative agreement between Gov. Mark Dayton and top Republicans who control the Legislature looks to finish the remaining pieces of the budget by Wed. morning. Lawmakers were expected to return late this morning to begin the final budget push. Read more from the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.

Farmers Increasingly Turn To Legal Workers

POLITICO reports that new data from the Labor Department shows that farmers sought more workers through the H-2A temporary visa program in the first months of the Trump presidency.

If an agricultural business wants to employ foreign workers under H-2A, it must first show that it can’t find willing and available workers, that the hiring of temporary workers won’t adversely affect wages of U.S. workers and that the job is seasonal. The applications to prove that – known as a labor certification – spiked during the second quarter of fiscal year 2017.

From Jan. 1-March 31, farmers filed 4,131 applications to hire 70,852 guest workers through H-2A – up 36 percent from a year ago. Requests by Florida farmers accounted for 16 percent of all applications, followed by Georgia at 13 percent and North Carolina at 10 percent, Labor Department data shows.

Farmers and food manufacturers in MN and WI have expressed concern about limitations on immigration and what it might mean for their workforce. The president reportedly said at a roundtable last month that he didn’t want to create labor problems for the agriculture industry, but the rise in labor certification applications could mean growers are hedging their bets. See a breakdown of the data here. H/t to NPR’s Dan Charles, who found the numbers.

IL Senate Dems Pass Several Grand Bargain Bills

IL Sen. Dems pushed through several grand bargain bills Wednesday during a whirlwind of activity.

The grand bargain is a series of budget-related bills that, among other things, would increase income and corporate taxes, expand the state’s sales tax to include certain services and expand gambling. It also includes some pension, spending and workers’ compensation reforms, among other measures. The Senate adjourned Wednesday before calling any of the grand bargain’s tax hike measures.  Read more here.

MN’s Dayton Vetoes All Budget Bills

Dayton To Veto GOP Spending Bills, Resume Budget Talks Next Week

MN Gov. Mark Dayton says he will veto Republican-crafted spending bills as a lengthening stalemate at the Capitol raises the likelihood of a messy end to the legislative session. Republican House and Senate majorities sent Dayton five large budget bills by Thursday, with another five awaiting legislative votes. But the DFL governor has called the whole package unacceptable, and said Thursday he would start to veto them immediately. Read more from the Star Tribune.

MN’s Dayton Vows Veto On Bill Limiting Cities’ Labor Laws

MN Gov. Mark Dayton said Thursday that he would veto the legislative measure that would limit local governments’ ability to raise minimum wages or required paid time off in their cities.

MWFPA supports the bill as labor regulations enacted at the local rather than at the state or federal level will result in a patchwork of confusing and burdensome mandates for employers and employees. Twenty-two states currently have laws that support statewide uniformity of labor regulations. This includes states bordering Minnesota along with several in the Midwest region.  Read more from the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS