by Tim Carpenter
The House defeated an amendment to a bill on procedural grounds Thursday — one that would nearly double the minimum wage in Kansas to $13.25 an hour during a three-year period.
Instead, the Republican-led chamber advanced legislation to prohibit cities and counties from establishing minimum wages above $7.25 an hour without authorization of the Kansas Legislature. The preliminary vote of 81-34 moved House Bill 2576 to final action Friday, where adoption would send the measure to the Senate.
Rep. Gene Suellentrop, R-Wichita, led the effort to impose state restrictions on local government regarding the minimum wage and took the lead in denouncing the amendment from Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, to elevate the wage rate statewide.
“If we provide a good, solid wage, we’re going to attract workers,” Ward said. “I’m trying to get them out of poverty.”
Suellentrop, who won a procedural challenge to declare Ward’s amendment nongermane to the bill, said people who yearned for higher wages should pursue training and education to gain skills in greater demand by Kansas employers. Actions by nearly 30 other states to move above the $7.25 threshold should be ignored, he said.
“Market forces are what’s out there that drives the wage scale,” Suellentrop said. “It’s not government. It’s the supply and demand of jobs out there that should make the determination. It’s not the responsibility for government to dictate those levels. There are a lot of ‘Help Wanted’ signs out there. It’s pretty easy to get a job.”
Ward’s amendment would have pushed the statewide minimum wage to $9.75, $11.75 and $13.25 over three years.
Read more from The Topeka Capital-Journal.