“Anyone familiar with the ping of a late-night e-mail, a weekend call from a boss or a mid-dinner glance at a text message has felt the inescapability of work in the age of smartphones. But while constant connectedness has become the norm, it has also become a source of overtime litigation — and attorneys say that could increase under a proposal from the Obama administration to make millions more salaried Americans eligible for overtime, including many in managerial positions,” writes Chicago Tribune reporter Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz.

“As managers, they are more likely to be checking in during off hours,” said Phillip Schreiber, a Chicago-based employment lawyer at Holland & Knight who represents businesses and is not involved in the police suit.

The new overtime rule proposed by the Labor Department last month would raise to $50,440 the minimum salary an employee must make before he or she can be classified as exempt from overtime, which would be up from $23,660. The government estimates that would extend overtime pay to nearly 5 million salaried workers in a range of professions, from store managers to staff accountants, who currently are exempt under “white collar” provisions. The salary threshold doesn’t affect certain workers, including teachers, outside sales representatives and certain hourly computer professionals.

Today’s Question: Should people get overtime for replying to off-hours messages?

19 comments • Add yours →

“In the strongest action ever taken in the United States to combat climate change, President Obama will unveil on Monday a set of environmental regulations devised to sharply cut planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions from the nation’s power plants and ultimately transform America’s electricity industry,” reports the New York Times.

The rules are the final, tougher versions of proposed regulations that the Environmental Protection Agency announced in 2012 and 2014. If they withstand the expected legal challenges, the regulations will set in motion sweeping policy changes that could shut down hundreds of coal-fired power plants, freeze construction of new coal plants and create a boom in the production of wind and solar power and other renewable energy sources.

As the president came to see the fight against climate change as central to his legacy, as important as the Affordable Care Act, he moved to strengthen the energy proposals, advisers said. The health law became the dominant political issue of the 2010 congressional elections and faced dozens of legislative assaults before surviving two Supreme Court challenges largely intact.

Today’s Question: Do you support Obama’s new actions to fight climate change?

31 comments • Add yours →

Gov. Mark Dayton is holding a town hall meeting today in Isle, Minn. to discuss the needs of resort owners of Lake Mille Lacs. The DNR is closing the walleye season early due to low numbers of fish in the lake. Dayton is advocating a special session to address the economic woes of the resort owners, writes MPR News reporter Tom Scheck.

DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk agrees a working group should be formed to discuss the walleye situation on Mille Lacs. But he also supports Dayton’s call for a special session. Bakk disagrees with the notion that state government should not help area businesses. He said the Legislature helps other industries, including taconite workers on the Iron Range, farmers and turkey producers.

“We’re creating less volume in business traffic, so I think we have some obligation,” Bakk said. “It’s kind of like if we took a road out and you can’t access your business any longer. There’s a process, through the Legislative Coordinating Commission, where a business can come and look for relief in those kind of situations, and they do.”

Bakk said the details of public assistance have to be worked out, but it could likely include zero-interest loans, tourism promotion and property tax relief.

Dayton, too, defended the idea of providing state help to resort owners. A recent economic survey of Mille Lacs County showed that 22 percent of the workforce is in the leisure and tourism industry. That’s second only to education and health services.

Today’s Question: Should Minnesota provide relief for Lake Mille Lacs resort owners?

12 comments • Add yours →