The committee began this week’s meeting by debriefing last week’s panel of small business owners. In retrospect, input of the panelists was undoubtedly valuable, and certainly credible. However, whether or not the panel was completely representative of the small business community of Saint Paul was a question raised.
Last week’s panel was composed solely of food and beverage industry professionals. Obviously, industrial diversity was a pertinent dynamic that was missing. With that, having the opinions of all industries represented became a greater priority. The challenge is how to respectfully gather opinions from underrepresented businesses while not conflicting with the time they otherwise would devote to running those businesses. Although 15 different businesses (including dry cleaners, corner stores, and other retail) were invited, it was unfortunate that more panelists were unable to attend.
The committee then discussed the idea that accepting statements from small business owners, or holding additional meetings with them, may be effective in bringing more ideas to the committee. It also would be inclusive to those who are unable to attend regular meetings due to time constraints. Such a possibility remains open.
The legal research update was brought by Snowden Stieber, Citizens League’s legal intern. The presentation was very direct in addressing the legal parameters of minimum wage laws in Saint Paul given current state laws. A major takeaway from his presentation was, “Cities may pass ordinances which are in addition to, but not in conflict, with state regulations. Cities also may not impose regulations that interfere with state agencies.” The legal research update can be found here.
Following the update, the committee participated in an exercise that was intended to help committee members get to know each other. Assignments in this exercise included sharing personal life motivations, and seeing how the motives of each member can connect. It was a successful activity that did well at showing the common interests that connect committee members. With justice and compassion being prominent themes, this exercise revealed the common desire to show an appreciation for and make a valuable contribution to the wider community.
Melanie McMahon, Legislative Aide of Councilmember Tolbert, and Jessi Kingston, Director of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity, both were able to come in and share on behalf of the City of Saint Paul. Getting an ordinance drafted and passed “is not a quick process,” said Melanie. Their presentations gave the committee a better understanding of what City ordinance passage, implementation, and enforcement process entails.
The effectiveness of implementation and outreach in the past, within the context of new ordinance implementation, was the most prevalent topic in discussion. This ultimately lead to the question of how does compliance look and, specifically, what does auditing, accounting, and payroll look like to businesses having to implement the change?
This discussion was effective in giving the committee an idea of what would be useful in its recommendations regarding ordinance implementation. Overall, this meeting was very informative as it pertains to city practices and legal limitations. Looking at the community report, the most outstanding comment was one that discussed state law regarding tip adjustment and how this influences the abilities of employers as well as the City of Saint Paul.
With just 8 meetings left, tip adjustment is a topic that is promised to come up in many more conversations, including next week’s meeting – where tip “credit” specifically will be discussed.