Fight over minimum wage dominates discussion in Salem


The Oregon Legislature is considering 14 bills altering minimum wage regulations.

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BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Monday marked a day of debate over minimum wage in Oregon as lawmakers heard supporters and opponents of more than a dozen bills.

OregonLive.com writes:

Taken together, the hearings mark a sudden burst of attention for a politically divisive issue that’s taken a backseat to other partisan fights this session — with other fights, over housing and paid sick leave, still to come. But for all the fresh attention, it’s not any more clear whether the Democratic lawmakers behind the bills will see any of them moved through before the session ends.

House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, told reporters Monday that she personally wants an increase that’s both “robust” and “timely.” But she also said she didn’t have an ultimate number in mind and suggested the issue, given the range of opinions among supporters let alone opponents, could eventually wind up before voters in 2016. In addition, she suggested legislation looking at ending the pre-emption could be a Plan B if lawmakers hang up on an overall increase.

Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) has said he will not pursue any bills that raise the minimum wage to $15 this session.

As expected, debate about the issue was robust.

Portland Tribune reports:

“These minimum-wage bills will have lasting consequences on the agricultural community,” says Shelly Boshart Davis, vice president of Bossco Trading in Tangent, which exports grass straw.

“When you increase your labor, you increase your costs. When you increase your costs, you have to increase the price of your product … Those like us, who are rooted in Oregon, will stay. But what we will be doing if the minimum wage is increased is that we will buy better equipment and hire fewer people.”

Supporters of a minimum wage increase say it could offer an escape from persistent poverty.

From a report by the Associated Press:

“No one who works should live in poverty,” Justin Norton-Kertzen, who works with an interest group seeking to raise the minimum wage, told the House Committee on Business and Labor. …

“When people are making more money, they spend more money,” said Marci Pelletier, “which means they will be spending more money in our small businesses, which is exactly what we need — more customers.”

The proposals vary on scope and impact. Most are aimed at slowly raising the wage floor or allowing local jurisdictions to set their own limits.

Here is a summary of each minimum-wage measure being considered in Salem:

SB130: Repeals state preemption of charter and statutory authority of local governments to set minimum wage requirements.

SB327: Increases Oregon minimum wage rate in graduated steps through 2017.

SB332: Repeals state preemption of charter and statutory authority of local governments to set minimum wage requirements.

SB555: Requires qualified nonprofit agency for individuals with disabilities to pay at least minimum wage set forth in state or federal law to individuals with disabilities.

SB597: Increases Oregon minimum wage rate in graduated steps to $13.50 per hour by 2017.

SB610: Increases Oregon minimum wage rate in graduated steps to $15 per hour by 2018.

SB682: Increases Oregon minimum wage rate to $10.75 on January 1, 2016.

HB2004: Repeals state preemption of charter and statutory authority of local governments to set minimum wage requirements.

HB2008: Increases Oregon minimum wage rate in graduated steps through 2017.

HB2009: Increases Oregon minimum wage rate in graduated steps to $15 per hour by 2018.

HB2012: Increases Oregon minimum wage rate in graduated steps to $13.50 per hour by 2017.

HB2921: Authorizes Commissioner of Bureau of Labor and Industries to expend certain moneys in Wage Security Fund to administer and enforce provisions of wage and hour and minimum wage law.

HB2925: Prohibits qualified nonprofit agency for individuals with disabilities from paying less than state minimum wage to employees who are individuals with disabilities if employees perform services at facility or site other than facility or site that qualified nonprofit agency for individuals with disabilities owns or leases.

HB3325: Allows employers to deduct value of certain benefits from minimum wage to be paid employees.

(SOURCE: Oregon Legislature)

 

 




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