February 16, 2017
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Des Moines, IA – A state House committee on Feb. 9 approved a Republican-backed bill that would make it illegal for counties or cities to set minimum wages higher than the state’s, which has been $7.25 an hour since 2008.
The bill would force four counties—containing the cities of Des Monies, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, and Ottumwa—to reduce the higher minimums they’ve enacted. Workers in Iowa City could face an immediate $2.85 pay cut. House Speaker Linda Upmeyer said Feb. 8 that it’s fair to force counties to lower their minimum wages, because it’s hard for businesses to pay different wages in different parts of the state. “No employer is required to lower whatever they’re paying,” she told the Des Moines Register. “Employers can pay whatever they wish and whatever competition requires.” The committee rejected a Democratic amendment to raise the state minimum to $11 by 2019. The measure would also restrict local governments from passing civil-rights or environmental laws that go beyond the state’s, such as banning the use of plastic shopping bags or forbidding discrimination against people trying to rent housing who are groups of unrelated individuals or receiving federal rent subsidies. Read more