Legislative Updates 2015

The 2015 legislative season is well under way and while there is much left to be written, passed and debated some important developments at the state and federal level are already important.  The following are a few relevant topics that employers should be tracking and aware of:

EXECUTIVE ORDER ON IMMIGRATION   

The fervor following the President’s executive order on immigration seems to have waned a bit and has delved into the implementation phase, mostly. Mostly because that State of Texas and 25 other states have initiated a lawsuit that, so far, has blocked implementation of the most controversial aspect of the President’s plan – i.e. the temporary legalization of 4-5 million illegal immigrants who have children lawfully present in the U.S. Continued court review and appeals to the Circuit court are expected with no end in the foreseeable future to this litigation.

Other aspects of the Executive Order, however, are moving forward.

L-1B visa reform has begun, with new regulations proposed and pending review, hopefully streamlining the application and approval process and taking away much of the arbitrariness associated with L visa applications.

Applications for work authority for certain H-4 visa holders – i.e. spouses of H-1B visa holders – begins May 26, 2015. This will allow certain H-4 persons to work in the U.S.

This week the government issued its blueprint for working with communities and employers to lay the foundation for the legalization (and potentially naturalization) of these 4-5 million currently illegal aliens. The plan is an interesting read and can be found on the HR Hotline website under Resources – Immigration.

MINNESOTA MINIMUM WAGE

Minnesota’s minimum wage is set to increase to $9.00 on August 1. That is, unless the House of Representatives has anything to say about it. Recently passed by the House is a bill that would carve out a tip-credit provision that would put the minimum wage for certain tipped-workers at $8.00/hour, so long as the employee makes at least $12/hour including tips. The bill is unlikely to get any traction in the Senate and the Governor has said he would veto it anyway.

Bills brought by Democrats in the House to raise the minimum wage to $10.50 by 2018 received no traction.

MINNESOTA’S ABUSIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT ACT

Worth following nationally because of the appeal of the topic, some legislators are seeking to make Minnesota the first state to have an anti-bullying in the workplace law. The law defines what is bullying (“abusive conduct”) and imparts liability for workplace bullying to the employer, akin to unlawful harassment. Appears stuck in committee for 2015.

 
 
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