Minimum Wage Roundup

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Here is a look at some of this week’s minimum wage stories from around the country. ABA is encouraging its members to reach out to town, county, or state officials to ensure they have a voice in any minimum wage discussions that take place in their communities.

Iowa: Linn County Working Group Recommends Wage Increase

In what the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Gazette called an “unexpected move,” a Linn County (Iowa) working group has recommended that the county increase its minimum wage by $1 to $8.25 per hour as of January 1, 2017. The recommendation now heads to the Linn County Board of Supervisors.

Ben Rogers, a Linn County supervisor and member of the working group, told the Gazette that the vote to increase the minimum wage, which took place during the group’s third meeting, surprised him. “I thought the group would take a little more time to gather some data on the impact on workers who would make that (wage) and the business owners who would have to pay that,” said Rogers, who voted against the proposed increase.

However, Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett, who spearheaded the wage increase, said that “everyone knew that the working group was eventually going to make a recommendation and I think this is a good recommendation to the county supervisors.”

Several members of the working group, including Corbett, said that pressure should be placed on state lawmakers to pass a statewide increase, so there isn’t “a hodgepodge of minimum wage efforts” across the state. A spokesperson for Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said the governor is open to working on a minimum wage increase though he is cautious about how an increase might affect job creation. 

The Linn County working group will reconvene next year after the 2017 legislative session closes to discuss potential future increases to the minimum wage, the article noted.

Pennsylvania: Governor’s Push for Minimum Wage Increase Could Be in Budget

During a site visit at Paychex in South Whitehall Township, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday, June 14, Dennis Davin, the state’s community and economic development director, hinted that Gov. Tom Wolf may make increasing the minimum wage part of the state’s budget negotiations, as reported by the Morning Call.

In March, Gov. Wolf issued an executive order that requires any company doing business with the state to pay its workers at least $10.15 per hour. The governor then called on legislators to increase the minimum wage at the state level, the article noted. Pennsylvania’s current minimum wage is the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour.

While the wage issue is currently not part of budget negotiations, Davin said that it could be in the future.

“An increase in the minimum wage statewide will support local businesses, create new jobs, and would boost state revenue by more than $60 million annually,” Jeff Sheridan, a spokesman for the governor, told Morning Call. “The governor will continue working with members of the legislature to pass legislation that increases the minimum wage in Pennsylvania.”

Pennsylvania business groups that oppose increasing the minimum wage argue it would particularly hurt small businesses, as well as workers looking to re-enter the workforce and those young workers looking to secure their first jobs.

“If you raise the minimum wage by $2 then the price of everything is going to go up proportionally,” said Kevin Shivers, executive director of the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Federation for Independent Business. “The philosophical argument for us would be the employees should make that decision.”