More than 100 activists are at the statehouse today, urging lawmakers to raise the state’s minimum wage. Iowa Citizens Action Network executive director Sue Dinsdale led a midday rally.
‘Get out there and talk to your representatives,” Dinsdale said at the close of the event. “Tell ’em: ‘Come on! $10.10, $8.75, something.'”
Iowa Federation of Labor president Ken Sager says raising the minimum wage will help drive working Iowans back into the middle class.
“We absolutely need to get behind this effort to push the minimum wage up,” Sager says. “It’s not just for kids. It’s not just to help seniors. It’s to help our economy because these people who get this increase aren’t stashing it in the Cayman Islands. They’re putting it in the community. They’re paying rent. They’re paying bills. They’re being contributing members of our society.”
A subcommittee in the Iowa Senate has signed off on the idea of raising the state minimum wage to $8 an hour on July 1st, and then to $8.75 on July 1st of 2016. Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs plans to bring the bill up for a vote in the full Senate. “We’re going to pass that legislation over to the House,” Gronstal says. “We’ve attempted to come up with a bill that’s kind of middle ground, not what they’re talking about at the federal level, so we think it should get bipartisan support and we think it’s time that 250,000 Iowans who’ve seen nothing from the recovery get a piece of the recovery.”
The top Republican in the Iowa House says House members will consider the bill if it clears the senate, but it is not a priority for Republicans. House Speaker Kraig Paulsen says he and his fellow Republicans are focused on ensuring Iowa’s economy is growing and Iowans can earn a wage that will support a family, something he says the minimum wage hike Democrats propose won’t do.
In 2007 Iowa lawmakers voted to phase in an increase in Iowa’s minimum wage and, by 2008, it rose to $7.25 an hour. A year later $7.25 became the national minimum wage.