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GOP wage bill clears House after much debate

The House has voted 47-19 in favor of HB 184A, a Republican bill to tie Idaho’s state minimum wage to the federal minimum wage – which it already matches – and to keep a “tip credit” that allows tipped employees to be paid as little as $3.35 per hour by their employers. Amendments to the tip credit would require that for tipped workers whose tips plus the $3.35 an hour still doesn’t add up to minimum wage, the employer would have to make up the difference.

The bill is sponsored by all four members of House GOP leadership, plus two other GOP lawmakers: Reps. Eric Anderson of Priest Lake and Ken Andrus of Lava Hot Springs. House GOP Caucus Chair Ken Roberts, R-Donnelly, the bill’s lead sponsor, said just tying Idaho’s rate to the federal level for the future would free lawmakers from dealing with the issue. “This would be probably the last time we would have to deal with a minimum wage bill,” he said.

Democrats strongly objected to the bill, which was offered in place of their proposal to raise Idaho’s minimum wage and index it to inflation in the future. “This cements Idaho’s minimum wage to the absolute bottom,” said Rep. Anne Pasley-Stuart, D-Boise.

Republicans spoke out against the minimum wage in general. Andrus, who gave part of the opening debate as a co-sponsor of the bill, read a letter from an employer in his district, and commented, “The message is to let the marketplace determine minimum wage and don’t force businesses to have a hardship on them.” He said he employs a 15-year-old for $5 an hour, but, “If I am forced by law to pay him substantially more, I won’t do it … and he’ll go and play video games like most of his peers do.”

The bill now moves to the Senate.


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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