Advocates for a Higher Minimum Wage Dominate Statehouse Hearing

Protester at statehouse hearing on bill to rescind higher minimum wage ordinances in four Iowa counties.

Joyce Russell/IPR

From Iowa Public Radio:

By Joyce Russell

Opponents of a bill banning a higher minimum wage which is working its way through the Iowa House far outnumbered supporters at a public hearing at the statehouse last night.    

The bill would rescind minimum wages approved in Polk, Linn, Johnson, and Wapello Counties that are higher than the statewide wage of $7.25 an hour.

Low-income Iowans and their advocates, religious groups, child advocacy groups, and students all spoke out against the bill and in favor of a higher minimum wage.

Pat Bowen is an activist in Johnson County where the minimum wage is now $10.10 an hour.

“And thus far I know of no businesses that have gone out of business because of it,” Bowen said to members of the House Local Government Committee in a packed committee room.  “If businesses would pay a living wage we taxpayers who you represent would not have to subsidize people using food stamps and other government assistance.”

But business groups argued against what they call the uneven landscape of varying wage laws.

“We want to have a statewide universal policy that is predictable that we can market, to say this is what the wage is for the state of Iowa,” said John Stineman, Executive Director of the Iowa Chamber Alliance.

“Our industry feels the pain more than many when wages are recklessly raised,” said John Maines, Legal Affairs Specialist with the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Stores of Iowa.

In addition to the four counties that have already raised the minimum wage, higher wages are under consideration in Lee and Blackhawk Counties.

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