State Finds Wage Initiative Constitutional Measure Would Raise Minimum, Expand Coverage

Attorney General Alan Lance has found constitutional a proposed 1996 ballot initiative from organized labor that would increase Idaho’s minimum wage and significantly expand its coverage.

Lance issued his certificate of review on Friday for the measure filed with the secretary of state’s office July 7. The advisory opinion concluded that federal law “expressly allows states to enact more generous minimum wage laws which would not be preempted by the Fair Labor Standards Act.”

The initiative, which the AFL-CIO hopes to get on the November 1996 ballot, calls for the first increase in Idaho’s minimum wage since it was set at $4.25 an hour, or $170 for a 40-hour week, on April 1, 1991.

The initiative would boost the wage in 50-cent annual increments beginning in mid-1997 until it hits $6.25 an hour in mid-2000. And it would expand the minimum wage to include farm workers, domestic employees, outside sales people and restaurant and hospitality industry workers who now are covered by a minimum wage discounted 25 percent for tips.

Labor leaders will need to gather the signatures of 41,335 registered voters to qualify the measure for next year’s general election ballot.


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