Controversial labor, street fee proposals reemerge

Minimum wage increase, Portland street fee expected to be reintroduced into public discussion.

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A proposed minimum wage increase and the Portland street fee are expected to be reintroduced into public discussion in upcoming sessions.

Portland Democrat Tina Kotek told the Oregonian Wednesday that pushing a minimum wage hike would be one of her top priorities in the next legislative session that starts in February.

“If you work full-time, you shouldn’t work in poverty any longer,” said the Portland Democrat in a phone interview, adding that she hoped she could broker a deal in the next session based on the new proposal.

A large coalition of left-leaning groups on Wednesday said they would push the Legislature to approve a statewide minimum wage of $13.50 while also changing state law to allow cities like Portland to approve a higher wage.  The coalition said it will go their proposal to the November, 2016 ballot if the Legislature doesn’t act.


The coalition said if lawmakers don’t act, it will pursue a ballot initiative in the November 2016 election.

“The bottom line is that something is going to happen in 2016,” said Tom Chamberlain, president of the Oregon AFL-CIO, in a conference call to reporters Wednesday.

The Raise the Wage coalition is taking a different political tack than another group, 15 Now Oregon, which is nearing the start of gathering petition signatures to qualify its own $15 statewide minimum wage for the 2016 ballot.

(SOURCE: Portland Tribune)

Kotek and labor groups had originally hoped that the minimum wage would be addressed this session, but her proposals died when Senate President Peter Courtney said he wouldn’t support them.

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is pushing a hike to the federal minimum wage, advocating a “living wage” of $15 per hour.

On Wednesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a Democratic presidential contender, introduced a bill along with four congressional Democrats to set a national minimum wage of $15 an hour. He then addressed hundreds of striking low-wage workers outside the U.S. Capitol, calling the current federal minimum of $7.25 per hour a “starvation wage.”

(SOURCE: Washington Post)

A Pew Research Center survey revealed in May found that the support for a raise in minimum wage falls directly on partisan lines.

Overall, 73% of people favored an increase in the federal minimum to $10.10 an hour, mirroring a Democratic-backed proposal that failed to move ahead in Congress last year. But while large majorities of Democrats (90%) and independents (71%) said they favored such an increase, Republicans were more evenly split (53% in favor and 43% opposed).


In Portland, Commissioner Steve Novick is researching options to relaunch a street fee to fund transportation projects.

“We’re having some quiet conversations with people who we know are interested in addressing the problem and getting their ideas preliminarily,” Novick tells WW in an interview today. “We told the Legislature we would stand down during their session, because they thought our conversation would muddy the waters. We were respectful of that, and now we’re talking with some of the folks who are interested in the issue. I can’t tell you much beyond that.”

And the possible ballot initiative? “I wouldn’t rule anything in or anything out,” Novick says.

(SOURCE: Willamette Week)

RELATED NEWS: NE Portland real estate broker challenging Novick 


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