Judge sides with labor contracts, dismisses lawsuit

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Ramsey County Judge Lezlie Ott Marek recently dismissed the lawsuit filed by Rep. Marion O'Neill and Sen. Mark Koran against Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB), which challenged the process by which MMB implemented the state labor contracts in 2020. The suit alleged that because the Senate did not pass the same bill the House had passed (House File 2768), the contracts were not ratified, eliminating wages and benefit increases.

The Republican legislators claimed they sued MMB as state taxpayers and said MMB’s implementing the contracts unilaterally caused legislative vote nullification, as the Senate did not approve the contracts as implemented. The court found the legislators lacked standing to sue under both theories. Furthermore, the legislators did not have their votes nullified since the House approved the contracts, where Rep. O'Neill's vote was inconsequential, and Sen. Koran voted in favor of the contracts. 

Most importantly, the court found that the contract ratification process is different from the typical legislative appropriations and law enactment process. The language in Minn. Stat. 3.855 only requires approval from the legislature, and nothing in the statute requires the contracts to be approved in the same bill.