Thursday at the Capitol: Minimum Wage, DPS Data Privacy Bill, Tax Refund

Updated: 03/27/2014 10:31 AM KSTP.com By: Jennie Olson

KSTP File Photo
KSTP File Photo

Here are some highlights of what’s happening at the Minnesota State Capitol on Thursday, March 27, including discussions about minimum wage and how the Minnesota Department of Revenue will give Minnesotans their money back under the new tax refund bill:

Minimum Wage

The Minnesota House and Senate on Thursday will discuss raising the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour for large employers.

There seems to be consensus about raising the state's minimum wage from $6.15 per hour to $9.50 per hour, but how quickly that happens remains a point of discussion. There's also a dispute about whether to automatically hike the wage in future years to account for inflation.

The House offer would raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour for large employers and $7.75 an hour for small employers. The wage would go up gradually each year, until August of 2016. It also establishes a training wage of $7.75 an hour.

Senate DLFers proposed raising it to $9.50 an hour for all workers.

The Minnesota Retail Association is also holding "I am Retail Day" at the Capitol on Thursday. The association says the purpose of the day is to help elected officials understand the impact of their decisions on retail businesses.

Tax Refund Bill

On Thursday, we’ll learn more about how the state plans to get Minnesotans their money back under the new tax refund bill signed by Gov. Mark Dayton.

The last-minute breaks were approved by lawmakers last week. State officials say one in 10 filers - or as many as 270,000 people - will get some measure of relief this year. That grows substantially next year when a bigger Minnesota deduction for married filers becomes available to 650,000.

The Minnesota Department of Revenue will tell us how it will implement the refunds during a news conference Thursday.

Legislator Immunity Act

A Senate committee on Thursday will debate a bill that would take away a lawmaker’s “Get Out of Jail Free” card if they were to be arrested for a minor offense.

Under current law, lawmakers can’t be arrested for these minor offenses unless it falls under the broad phrasing "breach of peace." The Legislator Immunity Act would make a DWI such an offense.

Senate Office Building

Five Republican candidates for Minnesota governor are uniting Thursday in what they’re calling an "unprecedented move," and it’s all over the proposed $90 million Senate office building.

Senate Democrats are pushing for funding for the building so construction can start as soon as possible; Senators have to move out of the Capitol because of renovations.

All five GOP candidates for governor are against the costly project. They will host a joint news conference Thursday afternoon to throw support behind a bill to stop it.

The Senate has approved the building, but the House has not.

DPS Data Privacy Policy

A House committee will take up a measure aimed at stopping a new Department of Public Safety privacy policy.

DPS wants to change the way it allows access to driver's license and motor vehicle data.  Currently, certain companies can buy that data in bulk, which is used to set car insurance premiums and send out recall notices. But DPS wants to instead charge $5 for each individual record request, which is about five times what many companies currently pay.

The DPS says the change will protect privacy, but critics say it could raise insurance rates. The policy is set to take effect May 12.