County leaders want to sue the state over minimum wage hike

Lane and Linn county officials claim the wage increase—and paid sick leave—constitutes illegal unfunded mandates.

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The basis for Linn County’s lawsuit, which has not yet been filed, would be Article XI, Section 15 of the Oregon Constitution, an amendment approved by the voters in 1996. The amendment states that “when the Legislative Assembly or any state agency requires any local government to establish a new program or provide an increased level of service for an existing program, the state of Oregon shall appropriate and allocate to the local government moneys sufficient to pay the ongoing, usual and reasonable costs of performing the mandated service of activity.”

Both the minimum wage increase and the paid sick leave program will impose modest costs on counties. Most of their workers make more than the minimum wage and were already entitled to sick leave benefits, but the Legislature’s actions will increase the cost of employment for some part-time and seasonal employees. For Lane County, the cost will be an estimated $50,000 a year in 2019-20, rising to as much as $300,000 when the minimum wage increase is fully phased in.

(READ MORE: Register Guard)

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