Minnesota Republicans Pass Bill Banning Cities From Raising The Minimum Wage

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Republicans in Minnesota’s House of Representatives voted in favor of a bill that focuses on ensuring workers making at or around minimum wage have absolutely no chance to see their wages increase without federal intervention. And in case that didn’t get their “screw the poor” message across loud and clear, they tacked on an extra measure that would slash the state’s minimum wage for tip employees – because if there is one group of people making too much money in this country, it’s restaurant wait staff.

In an all-too-common turn of events, support for the minimum-wage measure was “divided down party lines” – with Republicans taking on the role of Ebenezer Scrooge:

The bill would create a two-tiered minimum wage, with a lower rate for employees who receive tips of at least $4 per hour, while also prohibiting cities or the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport from enacting a higher minimum wage than the state minimum.

Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, chairman of the Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee and the bill’s chief author, said that without a change in the minimum-wage law, restaurants and taverns could be forced out of business by higher labor costs as the state’s minimum wage rises to $9.50 per hour by 2016 and then increases with inflation after that. [source]

Republicans have spent years artfully blocking attempts at the state or federal level to raise the minimum wage, despite the fact that the current one – at just $7.25 an hour – is widely known to be egregiously below the necessary income for a person to live on.

Minnesota lawmakers sought to rectify this problem in 2013 when Democrats in the Legislature voted to raise the state’s minimum wage from $6.15 to $9.50 by 2016. Sadly, having passed that measure, Republicans swept into office in 2014 and have been seeking to dismantle that legislation ever since.

First they went after waitresses. Citing (long debunked) concerns about restaurants being forced out of business after having to pay their employees a livable salary, Republicans are trying to roll back wage increases they are expected to receive in the next few years (see aforementioned Democratic minimum wage increase). The evidence that these modest increases in pay will spell certain doom for “restaurants and taverns” is complete fantasy. Despite several breathless reports by conservative websites that Seattle killed its restaurants by raising its wage to $15 an hour, even right-leaning Forbes took one look at the evidence and declared it a “lie.

Never mind that not so much as one of the restaurant closings discussed in the original piece referenced the coming rise in minimum wage as a reason for their decision to shutter their business. And never mind that the owner of one of the four eateries discussed is currently opening two new restaurants in Seattle. It was a headline that opponents of the citywide minimum wage increase could not resist—and the facts could not be allowed to stand in the way.

On the flip side, this conservative fantasy will lead to an already bad situation getting worse. Far from ruling like decadent kings, employees in food service are some of the worst paid people in the country. This is the group Republicans are choosing to target.

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But that’s not all.

Having watched cities across the country subvert the GOP’s self-professed authority to keep the poor poor by passing their own minimum wage increases, Republicans in Minnesota (and other states) have begun drafting legislation that will ban cities from doing so. Even worse, Republicans seem to be doing in strictly to spite Minnesota’s Democratic Governor Mark Dayton for expressing interest in raising the wage floor.

The other minimum-wage provision, which would prevent cities or other governing entities from outpacing the state minimum wage, is an oblique shot at Gov. Mark Dayton, who has said he favors a $10 minimum wage for airport workers.

The measure also would serve to stop the labor-backed wage movement at the state border. Labor activists have pushed for higher wages across the country, including a $15-per-hour minimum wage in Seattle, for instance. The House measure would put a ceiling on the minimum wage statewide, preventing a similar wage action in Minneapolis or other cities. [source]

Thankfully, Minnesota still has a sane Governor and a State Senate that is controlled by Democrats, so it is unclear whether Republicans can successfully maneuver the bill into law. If they fail, and let’s hope they do, then all they will have accomplished is to shamelessly demonstrate the sickening “screw the poor” mentality that has infected the Republican Party. I guess we should be grateful that they aren’t even trying to hide it any more.

Reprinted with permission from Addicting Info

 

 

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