The minimum wage hike that was to go into effect this Saturday in Iowa’s largest county will likely be cancelled.
That’s because Governor Branstad is likely to sign a bill into law that nullifies local minimum wage hikes in Polk County as well as Johnson, Linn and Wapello Counties.
Senator Janet Petersen, a Democrat from Des Moines, said the move penalizes workers who’ve already benefitted from the local ordinances in those counties.
“You are ripping a pay increase out of the pockets of the lowest paid workers in our state and that is wrong,” Petersen said.
Senator Tony Bisignano, another Democrat from Des Moines, unsuccessfully asked Senate Republicans to let the higher wage rates remain in the four counties.
“When it comes to tax cuts and tax breaks and business, we have no problem throwing around millions,” Bisignano said. “All we’re saying is let the lowest have a little crumb.”
Senator Randy Feenstra, a Republican from Hull, was the point person arguing in favor of the bill that passed the senate tonight.
“It clarifies that matters of statewide commerce and employment are a matter of state and not counties and cities of Iowa,” Feenstra said a few hours ago.
Critics say the various wage rates create a bookkeeping problem for businesses with outlets in various cities. Feenstra argued statewide “uniformity” is key for the base wage rate.
“This bill creates certainty, predictability and consistency,” Feenstra said.
Senate Minority Leader Rob Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, called the bill “pathetic and shameful.”
“It’s directly opposite of what our state should be doing to grow,” Hogg said. “…Maybe we can reverse this if we tell the world we’re going to pay our workers more.”
Feenstra was the final speaker during the debate.
“This is not an easy issue. I get it…It’s very complex with all the nuances from all the states, from the urban centers to rural Iowa,” Feenstra said, concluding with this message to Democrats: “Don’t question my motives.”
Feenstra and the rest of the Senate Republicans have now passed the same bill on this subject that House Republicans endorsed earlier this month. The legislation now goes to the governor. Branstad has said he supports the “uniformity” of a statewide minimum wage, but he also signalled again this morning that he’d like legislators to consider raising the state’s minimum wage by a “modest” amount.