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Bill to Prevent Cities from Raising Minimum Wage Advances in ID House

A bill to prevent municipalities from raising the minimum wage advanced in the Idaho House on Monday. (cohdra/morguefile)

A bill to prevent municipalities from raising the minimum wage advanced in the Idaho House on Monday. (cohdra/morguefile)
February 16, 2016

BOISE, Idaho - and Anne Nesse (NESS-see), director of Raiseidaho.org.

The House Business Committee in the Idaho Legislature moved Monday to make sure cities and counties won't be able to raise their minimum wage, even though so far they have refused to consider a bill to raise it statewide.

House Bill 463 forbids local governments from raising the wage, which stands at $7.25 an hour and $3.35 for workers who receive tips.

It passed the Business Committee 15-to-three along party lines, with Republicans voting in favor. Aaron White, Idaho AFL-CIO president, calls the decision "hypocritical."

"Our State Legislature constantly talks about the need to keep the federal government out of our business," says White. "And at the same time, they have decided to impose their control on municipalities and voters when it comes to minimum wage."

Idaho's minimum wage is among the lowest in the country. Labor groups support raising it to $9.25 an hour. They say low wages drive Idaho's young people to look for work in other states, keep many people in poverty, and slow the economy by driving down workers' purchasing power.

Supporters of House Bill 463 argue raising the minimum wage would cost jobs.

Anne Nesse with the advocacy group Raise Idaho says the bill is similar to others around the country supported by the ultra-conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.

"There's a ton of research that proves there was no ill effects from raising the minimum wage," says Nesse. "But our legislature and ALEC try to spread fear - that, 'Oh, no, no, you're going to lose your jobs.'"

Democrats in the Statehouse have introduced bills to raise the minimum wage statewide, last year and again this session, but the Republican majority has refused to bring them up for a vote.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - ID