Fifty-six Republicans in the Iowa House tonight voted to undo local minimum wage increases in four Iowa counties and ensure the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is enforced as the uniform, statewide standard.
Representative John Landon, a Republican from Ankeny, said the wage hikes in Johnson, Linn, Polk and Wapello Counties are “inconsistent” with state law.
“Allowing cities and counties to set standards for employment matters and commerce creates an inconsistent playing field that hinders economic growth and business interests,” Landon said to start the debate this afternoon.
Representative Brian Meyer, a Democrat from Des Moines, unsuccessfully urged Republicans to embrace a higher statewide minimum wage.
“We need to support this, not only for working families, but for everybody,” Meyer said, “because a rising tide lifts all boats.”
Landon countered that there’s nothing in the bill that prevents a business from raising wages.
“There’s nothing in this bill that I consider causes anyone to have a lower wage,” Landon said.
Critics say minimum wage workers in the four counties who saw their pay go up may see it revert to $7.25 an hour. And one House Republican — Representative Bobby Kaufmann of Wilton who represents Johnson County where the local base wage is now $8.20 an hour — voted against the bill.
Representative Mary Gaskill, a Democrat, is from Wapello County where the Board of Supervisors acted to raise the local wage.
“I don’t hear anything from anybody that says we’re going to do that here at the statehouse and we’ve been waiting years to get that done,” Gaskill said.
Representative Beth Wessel-Kroeschell of Ames was among the Democrats who argued state officials should not “pre-empt” local officials who want to act on issues of local importance.
“I have to say that many times it takes local government to lead us in the direction that we need to go,” she said.
Landon, the Republican from Ankeny who led debate on the bill, said there’s been a “misconception” counties and cities could raise the wage on their own.
“They didn’t come here and ask us if that was the right thing to do,” Landon said, “so I think that we’re clearing up that point.”
The bill now goes to the Republican-led Senate for consideration.
In February, Governor Branstad said he’d like to see legislators pass a “modest” increase in the minimum wage, but the governor did not specify an amount.