The Citizens League Minimum Wage Study Committee met on Thursday, June 14, 2018, at the University of St. Thomas. Check out last’s week recap on the fifth meeting here if you missed it.
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.
Guest blog post by Jack Semler, President & CEO, Readex Research
Do you remember what it felt like the last time you lost a customer? Surprised? Angry? Upset? And what did the unhappy customer do, at least as far as you know? Told someone else, texted, used social media to post a gripe. Then you and your team had to find a new customer! Think of the time, energy, money expended to find that “replacement” customer.
Most companies want to have a listening program in place, but don’t. There is the general thought that a Customer Experience (CX) listening process is too expensive, too complicated, takes too much time or demands too much from staff. All of this can be true if you don’t have a planned and focused program in place.
Customers who have complaints don’t know how to be heard. People prefer a safe and comfortable process; that it’s OK to voice their opinion. There is good news. Businesses that are serious about listening to their customers experiences have options when activating a productive process; beneficial for customers, employees and business.
Suggestions you can implement immediately:
These are all listening channels; opportunities where customers can actively engage with your business and share feedback about their experiences.
The most popular means for engaging and hearing from your customers is through online or mail surveys. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Our research recommends that a customer experience survey should be limited to no more than five questions.
Here are some survey tips:
If you do implement listening channels, take them seriously; be prepared to follow up quickly with the customer if an issue comes to your attention. Remember how you felt when you complained and nothing happened? Be different. Show the customer you care by taking action. A little attention goes a long way. www.readexresearch.com
Guest blog post by Natalia Madryga, Hylden Advocacy & Law
What is state bonding?
State bonds are a form of public debt that the State uses to pay for large-scale construction projects. There are a few types of State bonds, but the most common are State General Obligation (GO) Bonds. GO Bonds are fully backed by the state. There is no statutory or constitutional limit on the amount of debt the state can carry, but in 2009, the State issued formulas capping state bonding to ensure a good credit rating.
What can State bonding be used for?
There are constitutional restrictions for issuing GO bonds. Bond proceeds must be used for capital “bricks and mortar” projects. State bonding can only be used for land acquisition, predesign, design, construction, and major remodeling. Bonding cannot be used for operating expenses and costs, overhead, master planning, or general maintenance. Unlike more flexible state appropriations, GO bonding requires that the property or facility be owned by state or political subdivision and the program operated in that facility must have a public benefit.
Although private non-profits cannot directly receive GO bonding funds, local governments can serve as a public fiscal agent to allow state bonding for a project that will be managed for a non-profit’s purpose. This is done through a set of agreements: the non-profit provides a long-term lease for the bonding project site to the local entity serving as fiscal agent, which allows for GO bonds to be used for the project. Simultaneously, the local government fiscal agent enters a use agreement with the nonprofit for the purpose specified by the bonding legislation.
Typical projects receiving state GO bonding have statewide significance, such as university and college campuses, libraries, museums, state agency buildings, parks, trails, municipal infrastructure, zoos, water-treatment plants.
How do local governments and nonprofits secure state bonding?
A non-profit or local government entity can build support for a bonding request by first raising non-state funds dedicated to the project. The capital project can be completed in phases as well. Many capital projects come before the Legislature in multiple phases; first seeking funds to be used for site acquisition and/or planning, thereby making it more feasible to raise the private match and then return to the state for a request to complete the project.
Once a non-profit garners the support of the local unit of government and are added to their list of bonding priorities, non-profits must build support among state legislators – local delegation members, bonding committee members, and caucus leaders in the House and Senate. The next step is to secure a coveted spot on the local bonding tour agenda arranged by the House and Senate Capital Investment Committees with the local government officials and staff. These “bonding tours” are held during the interim, and legislators tour communities across the state to see first-hand the local infrastructure needs.
During the legislative session, a local legislator will introduce a bill and request a committee hearing. Powerful Senate and House committee chairs decide which projects they will fund and the total size of their bill. The bonding bill must pass the House and Senate with 3/5ths majority, so projects from members in the minority must also be included in the final package to have sufficient votes to pass. Once the Legislature reaches agreement and the bonding bill is passed by both the House and Senate, it must be signed into law by the Governor.
Securing state bonding is a feat in itself, but it is only the beginning. There are additional steps to be taken after the bonding bill passes and the project has been appropriated funds. Matching funds must be raised with proper documentation; predesign and design require state approval; and a grant agreement with the state must be signed.
Post by Kathleen Lohmar Exel, Foundation Director
Tours and Primers and Design Charrettes, Oh My! Economic Development Day found the LSP Class learning about Economic Development from a variety of perspectives while getting familiar with the East Side of Saint Paul. We started the day at the new Local 455 Pipefitters Union Hall hearing about the history of the topic from Louis Jambois and representatives from the River, Rail and Workforce Industries. Then we hopped on a bus and Monte Hilleman of the Saint Paul Port Authority gave us a tour of development projects including the Phalen Corridor, Westminster, Williams Hill, and Beacon Bluff. We then spent time at the East Side Family Clinic hearing about Economic Development happening between the community, the City of Saint Paul, the East Side Neighborhood Development Corporation, and the Neighborhood Development Center. That was followed by lunch outside at The HUB, the creative place-making multi-year partnership of the East Side Arts Council and the Saint Paul Port Authority. This educational streetscape incorporates interactive public art focusing on best practices in next generation energy use and storm water management. After returning to the Local 455, the class was able to spend time with 15 experts in Economic Development hearing about their work and asking questions. We rounded out the day with the ever-popular Design Charrette, orchestrated by BWBR architects: Jackie Peck, LSP 2015, Erin McKiel, LSP 2013, and Shida Du. The class worked on a design simulation and worked through what they would like to see developed at the Ramsey County Riverfront Site (former West Publishing and Ramsey County Jail). The class was able to reflect on the day and have some fun at Brunson’s Pub at the end of the day.
Special thanks to Tonya Bauer, Saint Paul Port Authority & LSP 2016, chair of the day and her committee, Maurice Harris of Greater MSP, Ling Becker of Vadnais Heights Development Corporation, and Molly Murphy of Northwestern Mutual and Brunson’s Pub, all from LSP 2017; plus, Kylle Jordan, MN Deed & LSP 2015 and Cat Beltmann, So Good Consulting & LSP 2016. The committee developed an Economic Development Primer that gave the class a great base and common understanding of development terms before the day started and they also developed a packet that showed each of the projects on the bus tour before they were developed and how many jobs were no present at the sites; truly an effort that went above the expected duties of a committee.
The Citizens League Minimum Wage Study Committee met on Thursday, May 24, 2018 at the University of St. Thomas. Check out last’s week recap on the second meeting if you missed it.
Co-chair B Kyle opened the meeting with a question to the committee members: what are their employees’ and networks’ thoughts on increasing minimum wage to $15? Particularly to those who currently make around $15/hour, how would they feel if the other employees’ wages increased to $15? One restaurant owner has been preparing for this increase and deliberately increased his dishwashers, line cooks, and chefs to $15 or more depending on their line of work. No employees have expressed any concern about other employee’s increased wage and were satisfied with their increase. He owns two locations - one in Minneapolis and the second in Saint Paul, totaling 48 full time and part time staff.
Thomas Durfee updated the Committee with his current research analysis on “firm birth” rates (when a business is founded) and “firm death” rates (when a business closes) in the City of Saint Paul. A few problems that Thomas identified were: no data on firm loss; and unemployment data does not provide reasoning WHY a person is unemployed. Thomas will report his findings at next week’s meeting.
The Committee heard a presentation from Jeff Schneider, Strategic Management Team, from the City of Minneapolis on the Staff Report on a Minimum Wage Policy. Jeff first acknowledged to the Committee there are many research studies on the effects of increased minimum wage projections, but not a whole lot on increased minimum wage post-implementation. Where many cities use revenue thresholds to determine exemptions and roll-out timelines, Minneapolis is unique in that they use a head count to determine appropriate roll-out timeline.
The second speaker to the Committee was Brian Walsh, Supervisor of Labor Standards Enforcement Division, Department of Civil Rights, City of Minneapolis. Brian shared his struggles working on the issues of minimum wage, “How do you mitigate the short term pain [for small employers]? There is no answer” and added that “There has to be investments [into partnership communities] in these policies after they pass.” Brian spoke about the value of being proactive to minimum wage issues - such as city working with community led partnerships and how “community policing” of minimum wage compliance should be a community-led enforcement effort.
The Committee asked Jeff and Brian many questions addressing issues including head count exemption, revenue privacy, the department’s budget, wage theft data, and preemptive approach. Brian referred back to Jeff’s comment on Seattle’s approach to minimum wage and how they created a robust Office of Labor Standards that budgeted to work with partnership communities – “Seattle is the gold standard” and is 2-3 years ahead of the minimum wage issue, being the first in the nation to reach out to diverse organizations and recognizing efforts.
A quarter of the Committee members were unable to attend this meeting. These absences, while coincidental, had the effect of leaving out input and insights from those committee members - many of whom represented women, minority owned businesses, people of color, and small non-profits. Because the committee is a representative sample of communities affected by the minimum wage, and one person cannot carry the load of an entire point of view, community engagement and input is important to the process.
The next meeting will be held on Thursday, May 31, 2018 with a panel of businesses that are underrepresented at the table to share their thoughts and concerns with the Committee.
About this blog series: SPACC public affairs staff will be attending each of the study committee meetings and writing a recap blog after each meeting in order to keep our members informed of the process. (Since President/CEO B Kyle is the co-chair and an active member of the committee her perspective will be included just like the other participants, but the blog should not be considered to be her opinion personally or a direct reflection of just her role on the committee.) Since the Citizens League will be publishing exhaustive minutes of the meetings, our blog is not meant to be a complete record, but instead will provide an overview of the high points of the meetings and the content. When appropriate, we will also provide analysis of what committee recommendations could mean for our members. If you have a question about the committee please connect with Shannon.
What are targets?
A target is a budget for how much to spend on a certain bill or issue. Once a committee has their target (which are negotiated by leadership) they have a guideline. For instance, if the bonding target is $800M, the Capitol Investment Committee puts together a bill that spends up to that much. All of the bonding proposals that are submitted usually WAY outspend what the target is, so the Committee uses the target to decide how many projects to include.
What is interim?
Interim is the time between sessions. Right after adjournment sine die in May, through the next January (for the first year of the biennium) or February/March (second year of the biennium).
What’s sine die?
Sine die means “without a day.” During session, when they adjourn floor meetings, part of the motion to adjourn includes the date and time of the next meeting. When they adjourn at the end of the year, they move to adjourn “sine die”.
When somebody works “at the Capitol” does that mean their office is IN the Capitol?
Rarely does it mean that. The Capitol Complex, governed by the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Commission (CAAPC), includes 15 individual buildings as well as the surrounding greenspace. Senators and their staff have offices in the Minnesota Senate Building (MSB). House members and their staff, the Reviser’s office and Legislative Library are in the State Office Building (SOB). A few members of House and Senate leadership have second offices in the Capitol itself, along with the Governor, but one of the main goals of the 2011 restoration resulted in an increase of 30,000 square feet of space in the Capitol being accessible to the public. The press corps have offices in the basement, but like lobbyists, constituents and other visitors, are frequently out and about, monitoring committee hearings and talking to legislators. Public events and rallies take place both inside the Capitol and on the grounds.
Contact Shannon Watson, Director of Public Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org with other questions you may have about the legislature!
Post by Kathleen Lohmar Exel, Foundation Director
At a time when news cycles often carry stories of police interactions with the public—many of them negative—it was a formative day for LSP to come together to better understand the criminal justice system in Saint Paul/Ramsey County and investigate the balance of trust and power in the community, as well as to learn and explore the innovative ways the system is being changed from within and from the outside by a variety of sectors. The class appreciated hearing from Saint Paul Police Chief, Todd Axtell, they were moved by the visit to the Ramsey County Jail, and learned a lot from the panels throughout the day, including very frank discussions of the barriers and systemic racism within the criminal justice system from JaPaul Harris, Hennepin County Court Juvenile Referee and Judge Mark Ireland of the Ramsey County Drug Court. In an effort to have the class continue reflecting on the day after having a bit of time to digest what they saw, heard, learned, and thought, we held a Salon discussion on April 25 at The Liffey. Salons were piloted in 2017 as a way for the class to come together and discuss particularly heavy topics between regular LSP program days and we hope to continue them beyond 2018.
Special thanks to Nicole Coty of Bearence Management Group, LSP 2016, chair of the day and her committee, Sarah Berger of Neighborhood House and Autumn Amadou-Blegen, both from LSP ’16. Julia Jenson, Curriculum Chair and Damon Shoholm, Curriculum Lead facilitated conversations through the day to help the class process what they saw, heard and learned.
Post by Yao Yang, SPACC Public Affairs Specialist
Since its introduction in 1907, plastic has enabled great inventions and innovation, but also significant environmental consequences on Earth. On April 22, 1970 Earth Day was founded by Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, and is now celebrated globally in over 193 countries. Besides the official date and celebration, there are many things that we all can do to make Every Day Earth Day.
Every little thing you do adds up. The average American in 2014 had a “carbon footprint” (i.e. they produced) 21.5 metric tons of CO2 according to University of Michigan. That’s three times over the global carbon footprint average of 4.9 metric tons CO2 in 2013 according to The World Bank. Find out your estimated carbon footprint here and imagine what you can do every day to reduce your carbon footprint.
Start asking questions about alternatives. What alternative life choices can you make that will help the environment and your bottom line? We could all put more effort to recycle, reduce, and eliminate trash. All of these efforts can help reduce your carbon footprint. What are things you can do every day to reduce your carbon footprint? Here are some suggestions to start:
These are some easy ways you can reduce your carbon footprint. Take the time to do your research and see what you can do. It’s important to remember that you can make an impact with the little things you do every day. The more you do, the more you can fuel change to your culture of sustainability.
If you want to implement these practices in your workplace, you can apply for BizRecycling grant (up to $10,000) that helps businesses in Ramsey and Washington Counties to implement recycling and organics programs. Let us know your feedback, questions, and comments.
Stay tuned for more environmental coverage in the coming weeks. I will be doing a “Zero Waste Week Challenge” and share all about my experience!
Post by Kathleen Lohmar Exel, Foundation Director
March 8, 2018 found the current LSP class gathering for Media & Communications Day at both MPR and Twin Cities Public Television. The day began with a storyteller/reporter activity facilitated by Damon Shoholm, the LSP Curriculum Lead, which helped the class examine the difficulty that journalists face telling complex stories in our ‘social media driven, short-attention span’ society. This segued to the ever-popular Media Panel on “How Does the News Get Made?” featuring, Charles Hallman from the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, Michael Olson of Minnesota Public Radio, Jana Shortal from KARE11, Dave Orrick from the Pioneer Press/TwinCities.com and it was moderated by Cathy Wurzer of MPR. The class also heard from the ever-engaging Chad Weinstein and his Ethical Leaders in Action interactive presentation. Tours of both MPR and tpt allowed participants to visually see how the news gets made and the class was also trained in social media trends and the importance of careful communications in day-to-day leaders’ lives by Goff Public.
Special thanks to Richard Fong of Granicus and Suzanne Thompson of the Pioneer Press, co-chairs of the day and their committee, Mary Huss of Catholic Charities and Brad Losee of Anchor Bank, all from LSP ’17. Julia Jenson, Curriculum Chair and Damon Shoholm, Curriculum Lead were instrumental in making sure the day was a success.
What is an amendment?
Bills start out with specific language “as introduced.” Amendments are how that language gets changed. They’re either done in committee or on the floor, but have to be voted on. Amendments are how the legislature makes sure all the changes are official and accounted for. It’s a way of keeping track, and allows changes as a bill progresses through the system.
What is a “delete all?”
A “delete all” is a kind of amendment. While most amendments make individual changes to the text of a bill – either adding or subtracting certain language – a delete all strips all of the current language out of a bill and replaces it at one time. A delete all is helpful if there have been multiple changes.
Think of a bill like a car engine. If a spark plug goes bad, you just swap out that spark plug, or if you decide that synthetic oil is better than conventional, you drain out the old oil and put the new in. The spark plug swap or oil change would be like individual amendments. The engine is still the engine, but you’ve got new parts.
But let’s say you have an engine with lots of issues. It needs two new spark plugs, a hose, an oil change, and a fan blade is bent. You could do individual fixes (amendments) or your mechanic could offer you a whole different engine. Swapping out a new engine for the old would be like doing a delete all – it’s still an engine, but all of the little problems get taken care of at once. Efficient, right? Right.
However… here’s the catch with delete all’s – it’s really easy to sneak in extra changes. If you have an unscrupulous mechanic, and he gives you a different engine that fixes the spark plugs, the hose, the oil change and the fan blade, he could also “forget” to mention that one of the pistons has a crack in it. If you have an unscrupulous legislator, they could “hide” extra provisions or changes in a delete all. This has the highest probability of happening with large omnibus bills, or at the end of session, when lots of things are happening quickly. Intentional swaps and unintentional mistakes are the reason that legislators should be afforded time to read the bills they’re voting on, especially when there are changes right at the end.
In legislation as in life, make sure to read the fine print.