Opponents to a change in the state minimum wage law took center stage in the House, but couldn’t stop the majority from stripping a cost-of-living adjustment from the law approved by voters in 2006.
Critics of HCS/HB 61 contend it insults low-wage workers and overturns the will of the people. Democrats during House floor debate accused majority Republicans of being selective in what voter-approved initiatives they respect and which they don’t. Democrats pointed out that 76% of the voters approved the minimum wage law in 2006, which contained a provision to allow it to rise with inflation. They also say the bill favors business at the expense of the state’s lowest earners.
Sponsor Jerry Nolte (R-Gladstone) and supporters claimed that voters didn’t truly realize the ballot initiative in 2006 contained a cost-of-living adjustment. He said that the 41% increase in the minimum wage, from $5.15/hour to $7.05, has cost the state jobs and that the inflation trigger created economic uncertainty.
The debate was kept to a minimum. Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones (R-Eureka) moved for the previous question, to cut off debate, after 42 minutes. The House then voted 92-to-60 to approve the measure and send it to the Senate.