Iowa Legislators Contemplating Restricting Local Governments Setting Minimum Wage
Iowa House Republicans are advocating for a new measure that would hinder local governments’ ability to regulate minimum hourly wages, leaving workers skeptical over the possible repercussions, according to an AP Report.
There has been a statewide $7.25 hourly minimum wage in place since 2008, but recently, counties have passed ordinances to increase wages in their areas, compelling state politicians to approve measures to revoke these wage increases.
Gov. Terry Branstad admitted last week that he is in favor of “a modest increase,” contrary to House Speaker Linda Upmeyer who said Republicans are not inclined to increase the state’s minimum wage.
“Contract law is state law or federal law,” Rep. Jake Highfill said in response to those criticizing the measure.
The bill under consideration, House Study Bill 92, not only affects local governments setting hourly minimum wage, but also permits the state government to control local labor regulation, according to the Des Moines Register.
Speaking to government officials, Amy Nielson, a Democrat House member and former Northern City mayor, says “I’m quite frankly offended that you don’t trust us to make the decisions for our own community.”
While Iowa’s minimum wage has been at a standstill for the last nine years, 29 states have approved measures to increase their wages since then.
Rita Bettis, legal director for the ACLU of Iowa, believes this bill would contribute to discrimination in cities.
“The bill would restrict municipal civil rights or human rights ordinances,” Bettis said. “But those local protections can be an important means available for cities to protect their residents from discrimination, and should be preserved.”
On the other hand, local businesses have come to the defense of the bill, arguing HSB92 would create statewide uniformity regarding wage and labor disputes.
Jessica Harder, directors of the Association of Business Industry, says “employers need to know what to expect and how to administer their business to their employees.”
Highfill added that the state legislature could approve a bill to increase Iowa’s minimum wage at another time.