Archive for Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Ban proposed on living wage ordinances

February 15, 2005


— A bill before the Legislature would prohibit local governments from adopting living wage ordinances, such as the one established in Lawrence.

"We don't want different communities having different minimum wage requirements on businesses," Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Overland Park, said Monday. "We want free flow of commerce."

Yoder was student body president in 1998-99 at Kansas University and lived in Lawrence for eight years.

Under Yoder's bill, which has 12 co-sponsors, cities and counties would be prohibited from entering into contracts that would require hourly wages in excess of the federal or state minimum.

The federal minimum wage is $5.15 per hour, while Kansas' minimum wage is $2.65 per hour -- the lowest in the nation, and lower than the minimum wage in the U.S. territories of Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

In 2003, the Lawrence City Commission approved an ordinance requiring businesses that receive tax abatements from the city to pay a minimum wage that is 130 percent of the federal poverty level for a family of three. That is approximately $9.53 an hour.

Yoder said forcing companies to pay higher wages would cause them to locate elsewhere and lead to joblessness.

A hearing on his bill, House Bill 2422, is set for 9 a.m. today before the House Commerce and Labor Committee.

City Commissioner Boog Highberger said if the bill became law, he wouldn't support giving any local tax breaks to businesses.

"I think it would be the end of the tax abatement program in Lawrence," he said.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.