Minneapolis City Council is Bad for Business, and Getting Worse

Mitchell Rolling

Minneapolis City Council members continually display a lack of understanding and respect for local businesses. In their hopes of seeing a “greener,” “safer,” and “fairer” world, these members are unreasonably destroying the well-being of Minnesotan businesses and the livelihoods of local Minnesotans. 

Late last year, the council approved a ban on menthol-flavored tobacco products, prohibiting the sales of such items from everywhere except adult-only tobacco shops and liquor stores. They did so because, as supporters of the measure claim, menthol cigarettes are marketed toward people of color, and younger individuals enjoy them more.

However, as city council member Blong Yang, who voted against the measure, noted, this restriction actually discriminates against African-Americans who simply prefer menthol products. Yang also feared for businesses in his ward that may lose out on sales because of the ban. 

Before this, in 2016, Minneapolis also banned the sales of flavored tobacco products. This led to protests by business owners who were wary that they might lose out on sales. The reason for passing this measure was because the supporters of the ordinance claimed that these products discriminately targeted younger individuals. And now, city council members are proposing to raise the age of tobacco sales in the city to 21. 

This is yet another policy that will not be helpful for the Minnesota economy and is brought to us under the belief that it will stop underage smoking. This is simply an attempt to bring governmental reach into the everyday lives of Minnesotans. 

And this governmental interference does not stop with tobacco sales.

Minneapolis has also passed new sick-leave requirements for businesses and a $15 minimum wage, which was upheld by a Hennepin County Court in a suit filed by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. 

All the mentioned laws above have been implemented in the last two years. With how little the council members know and/or pay attention to small businesses, we can expect more to come.

How can we tell that these council members care little about the negative effects that their policies have on the economy? Because they refuse to acknowledge basic facts about them.

Research conducted on minimum wage laws usually shows a few commonalities; these laws not only hurt small-businesses but lead to fewer jobs and higher prices for consumers, as well. Here is a good source to see the effects of minimum wage laws. If these council members really cared about their constituents, and not just about securing a “win” for their party and themselves, they would have never raised the minimum wage at all, let alone to $15.  

This should be a lesson for everyone. 

These Minneapolis council members have used the argument of “discriminatory practices” in almost every tobacco-sales prohibition ordinance, whether to African-Americans, the working class, or teenagers.

They hide behind statements like “for the well-being of our community” to impose policies that have zero benefits, without being challenged on how they actually help. In most cases, these policies not only harm Minneapolis businesses but also make Minneapolis a less-attractive place for future employers.

Employers in the city are already complaining about larger amounts of paperwork, diminishing sales, and much more due to the ordinances passed by the Minneapolis City Council. If current business owners are getting fed-up with the changes these council members are making, how are we ever going to attract new ones?