Letter: Oppose Minnesota's proposed expansion of paid medical and family leave

"While many other states have prioritized reducing taxes and creating business-friendly environments, this proposal would increase costs and regulations for every business across Minnesota," Chamber president and CEO Shannon Full writes.

Shannon Full, president and CEO of the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce speaks during the celebration Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, at the Delta by Marriott, Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Headlines and top-10 lists — communities and states are constantly striving to make these; however, Minnesota is poised to be at the top of a detrimental list we do not want to find ourselves on: the country’s most expansive paid leave mandates.

During this session, a current proposal at the Minnesota Legislature would mandate Minnesota employers to provide employees up to 24 weeks of paid medical and family leave (12 weeks of medical leave and 12 weeks of family leave). As written, there are no size or geographic-based exemptions for small businesses or border communities. For context, only 11 other states have versions of paid leave mandates. States such as Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and Oregon have a standard total leave set at 12 weeks, with numerous exemptions, including small businesses.

The Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce, representing over 1,900 businesses across the FMWF metro and beyond, strongly opposes this proposed mandatory paid leave program. Due to the extremely tight labor market, the free enterprise system has and will continue to provide competitive compensation packages, including paid leave and customized benefits that fit their employees and workplace culture. Our state should instead be looking for innovative solutions to actively address the workforce shortage, including exploring talent attraction strategies, reducing burdensome regulations to spur economic growth and focusing on solutions for issues like childcare and housing.

The barriers this bill would create for Minnesota businesses and employees are significant and numerous. Already facing one of the highest state corporate income tax rates in the country, Minnesota businesses would be charged a 0.7% payroll tax to fund this program. As previously stated, with a tight labor market, businesses would be met with an overwhelming strain to back-fill a position for 24 weeks before reinstating the original employee to their position, per the legislative requirements. These scenarios would burden the employer and cause extreme mental and physical strain on existing employees to maintain operations while their team members are absent.

During this time of unprecedented budget surpluses, our state must look for creative solutions to become more competitive on a regional, national and even global scale. While many other states have prioritized reducing taxes and creating business-friendly environments, this proposal would increase costs and regulations for every business across Minnesota. From record-setting inflation to workforce shortages to material and supply scarcity, the last thing Minnesota businesses need is to be burdened with a one-size-fits-all paid family and medical leave mandate.


These bills are neither equitable nor sustainable. Currently, there is no fiscal note attached to this legislation, and Minnesota's citizens should not be comfortable with a "trust us" mentality. In addition, small businesses, which are supposed to benefit from this legislation, would be the ones harmed most. Border communities like ours face additional challenges as we compete directly with neighboring states.

If enacted, we fear many unintended consequences, including business closures or relocation to more business-friendly states, would quickly become a reality. We support Minnesota businesses and employees as well as the vitality of the state’s business climate, and as such, oppose this one-size-fits-all mandate. On behalf of our over 1,900 members, we respectfully ask Senator Kupec, Representative Keeler and Representative Joy to do the same and vote no on Senate File/House File 2.

Shannon Full is the president and CEO of the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

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Deborah K. Seaberg writes, "With the legislators you have and the bills that they have passed or are being proposed, why would anyone want to move to this state to work here?"
Richard Logan of West Fargo writes, "We need to protect our law enforcement heroes, along with the general public."
Bob Skarphol writes, "The rewritten industry bill will not solve the issues raised by mineral owners without the provisions originally requested."
Lee Purrier of Park Rapids, Minn., writes, "So sad we have come to believe in slogans over the remarkably well-written Constitution and the laws emanated from it."
Mark A. Strand writes, "Public health challenges are not wished away, or resolved by being ignored; they are addressed by positive hard work to protect and serve the public."
Dave Vacha from Fargo writes that "his column has really slid into a low-pressure system from which I believe there is no return."

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