Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

Kansas bill would eliminate state minimum wage, prohibit local living wage laws

Critics say proposal would create more economic insecurity

February 12, 2007

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— Business lobbyists, and some lawmakers on Monday sought to repeal the state minimum wage -- already the lowest in the nation at $2.65 per hour -- and also recommended prohibiting cities from passing living wage ordinances.

Jeff Glendening, a spokesman for The Kansas Chamber, said the free market should determine wages.

"A minimum wage set by government is not needed and should be repealed," Glendening told the Senate Commerce Committee.

Ron Hein, legislative counsel for the Kansas Restaurant and Hospitality Association, said minimum wage laws often hurt those they are intended to help by causing employers to hire fewer people, or someone with more qualifications.

But labor and social justice groups said if there are any changes to the state minimum wage, it should be increased to at least the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour. Congress also is considering increasing the federal minimum to $7.25 an hour, which would be the first increase in 10 years.

"Let's take the high road in Kansas and relieve ourselves from the embarrassment of being the lowest minimum wage state," said Andy Sanchez, executive secretary treasurer of the Kansas AFL-CIO.

The state minimum wage applies to employees not covered by the regulations of the federal minimum wage. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates there are 19,000 Kansans earning below the federal minimum wage.

Twenty-eight states have state minimum wage rates higher than the federal minimum.

Sixteen states have set their state rate at the federal wage and five have no minimum wage; those include are Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Of states with a state minimum, only Kansas' is lower than the federal wage.

The Kansas Action Network, a coalition of social justice groups, issued a statement that said without a state minimum wage, "Kansas workers who earn less than the federal minimum will be plunged into even greater economic insecurity."

Hein also recommended that Senate Bill 71, which would repeal the state minimum wage, should also ban cities from enacting local minimum or living wage ordinances.

A Lawrence group, Grassroots Action, has proposed a measure that would require businesses in Lawrence to pay wages that would boost workers' salaries above the poverty rate. Lawrence already has an ordinance that requires companies that receive a tax abatement to pay at least $10.38 per hour.

Hein said the local ordinances are a problem for the restaurant and lodging industries.

"There are already enough differing governmental levels of laws and regulations on our industry as well as others, without having a third level of legislation in the area of minimum wage or other working conditions," he said.

Commerce co-chair Sen. Karin Brownlee, R-Olathe, said she wasn't sure what the committee would do with the proposed bill.

"I'll need to visit with the committee and see what they say," Brownlee said.

Comments

Ragingbear 8 years, 3 months ago

Business lobbyist to Kansas: Bend over, this will only hurt alot.

budwhysir 8 years, 3 months ago

eliminate, prohibit, reject, defy, and relocate. (politics)

I for one, am looking forward to the future.

imastinker 8 years, 3 months ago

This will make no difference to anyone. The only people that make lower than minimum wage are waiters and waitresses. No business is going to cut their pay just because the state minimum wage is lower.

What's really going on is the state thinks the likes of Lawrence is going to chase business over state lines. I think so too.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 3 months ago

This is a GREAT idea.

Economists agree, the correct minimum wage is $0 per hour. The wage which benefits the most low-income earners is $0 per hour.

drewdun 8 years, 3 months ago

Its good to see laissez-faire economics is still popular in some circles. However, history has taught the reality-based community that allowing business interests to dictate state policy and deal with their employees in an 'unfettered' manner is not just disastrous for workers, it is disastrous for the nation. Obviously balance is the key.

ronwell_dobbs 8 years, 3 months ago

So it is interesting that State's rights or local control are only considered important when the shoe is on the other foot. Why others have a hard time seeing this is beyond me.

/returning to being jaded

Liberty 8 years, 3 months ago

If big business in Kansas could be trusted to pay a fair wage to their employees and not abuse their own employees through outsourcing and suppressed wages, there would be no need for a minimum wage law. History shows that business is greedy and ends up taking advantage of their workers to improve their profit margin for those at the top that milk the company to fill the pockets of the board members of corporations.

Not all businesses do this, but most will only do the minimum that is required by the law, rather than what is right and fair towards their employees and for the good for their country and State. Therefore, there is a need for a minimum wage law to keep the State and nation from emploding from greedy business practices that seek only more money and power. If employees are not paid well so they can support their families, the economy and the State will fail because employees can't buy homes and feed their families and pay taxes for government to operate and exist.

sourpuss 8 years, 3 months ago

No minimum wage and no hour limitations worked really nicely in Victorian England. I've read a lot of books about how successful those business practices were, especially in terms of the welfare of children. As well, we really need to get rid of safety regulations because the free market should determine that as well. There is no reason we should be sacrificing jobs for mere safety concerns. If someone is not willing to give up a foot, hand, or even their life for a job, then they can't want it very much.

I'm totally on board with this idea. Think of the well-trained applicants this state will attract. Think of the high-paying businesses that will follow. I also know that the Christian Work Ethic is very important to people and that many are willing to work at what a manager deems is a fair rate rather than to make enough to pay back college loans and to support their children. After all, the WORK is more important than some sinful wage. As well, few people have the desire to own material possessions or property (after all, ownership of these things reflects a degenerate moral attitude!) and so have taken personal vows of poverty despite their professional qualifications. For example, there are many attorneys and doctors who are always willing to put aside cars and homes to work for their clients for free.

If we keep on forcing businesses to pay a base salery, they will stop hiring people and the entire economy will collapse. After all, the less money in the economy, the better, because then people will not be going into businesses to buy goods and services, and if they are not patronizing these businesses, the businesses will not need to hire employees at inflated rates of pay, like the outrageous $5/hr. Giving all of the money to a few people is a sound economic model. After all, the Middle Ages worked that way and lasted for 1000 years, whereas modern Capitalism has only lasted about 150 years and is having such problems as people demanding minimum wages and health care.

Businesses and corporations know what is best for people, because they aren't people and aren't afraid of silly things like illness, children, death and comfort. It is much better to let a non-human intinty make decisions for us than to leave it to the emotional whims of humans. Why should humans be comfortable when they can work?

imastinker 8 years, 3 months ago

This is a different time than it was 100 years ago. If you don't treat employees well - they leave. If they leave and you can't hire new ones - you go out of business.

Godot 8 years, 3 months ago

So, if there is no state minimum wage, does the Federal minimum wage apply?

Godot 8 years, 3 months ago

Just answered my own question: yes. So, what is the big deal?

lawman_815 8 years, 3 months ago

haha, good stuff sourpuss... if state legislators are concerned about the negative impact the current state minimum wage is having on business, they should make two considerations.

First, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act set a minimum wage for tipped employees at $2.13/hr so even if we eliminate the state minimum wage of $2.65/hr, the effect is minimal. (source is referenced below)

www.dol.gov/esa/programs/whd/state/tipped.htm

Second, (and more important for business men around kansas to consider) the negative attention brought on by the ratification of this bill will attract plenty of energetic labor organizers ready to raise hell for employers all across kansas.

Rethink the cost/benefit analyses

Godot 8 years, 3 months ago

I propose a constitutional amendment that would set the maximum wage for state and local government employees: the highest wage should be no more than 2.67273 times the average wage of non-government-employed citizens over age 18 in the governed area. That cap would apply to all government employees, including coaches, athletic directors, city managers, superintenandants, etc. Give them an incentive to work to improve economic conditions for everyone.

justthefacts 8 years, 3 months ago

I propose a Constitutional Amenment making it illegal for any lawmaker to vote on any new law that does not apply to them and impact them directly. (E.g. they can't make others pay more - or get less - unless they too have to pay more - or get less). I also would support a Constitutional Amendment out-lawing lawmakers meeting more then every 3 years. That ought to make their infrequent lawmaking meetings (and any resulting new laws) more thought through, fair and efficient!

Crispian Paul 8 years, 3 months ago

Posted by Bowhunter99 (anonymous) on February 12, 2007 at 1:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Would those 19,000 Kansans earning below the federal min wage be restaurant employees that earn 15-20% tips? The ones that never report those earnings to the IRS?

Actually, they are supposed to report their tips at the end of each shift (I waited tables for a long time). This is actually a really sad idea. It's sad to see that "only waiters and waitresses make less than minimum wage" written when as a former waitress despite tips, with that type of income, sometimes at a slow restaurant or on a slow shift, you may only make that $2.65 an hour. Not only that, but to prohibit communities from making local laws in support of mandatory living wage goes against the whole local control ideaology generally supported by the GOP, who are mostly supporters of this.

Crispian Paul 8 years, 3 months ago

Posted by sourpuss (anonymous) on February 12, 2007 at 2:05 p.m. (Suggest removal)

No minimum wage and no hour limitations worked really nicely in Victorian England. I've read a lot of books about how successful those business practices were, especially in terms of the welfare of children. As well, we really need to get rid of safety regulations because the free market should determine that as well. There is no reason we should be sacrificing jobs for mere safety concerns. If someone is not willing to give up a foot, hand, or even their life for a job, then they can't want it very much.

I'm totally on board with this idea. Think of the well-trained applicants this state will attract. Think of the high-paying businesses that will follow. I also know that the Christian Work Ethic is very important to people and that many are willing to work at what a manager deems is a fair rate rather than to make enough to pay back college loans and to support their children. After all, the WORK is more important than some sinful wage. As well, few people have the desire to own material possessions or property (after all, ownership of these things reflects a degenerate moral attitude!) and so have taken personal vows of poverty despite their professional qualifications. For example, there are many attorneys and doctors who are always willing to put aside cars and homes to work for their clients for free.

If we keep on forcing businesses to pay a base salery, they will stop hiring people and the entire economy will collapse. After all, the less money in the economy, the better, because then people will not be going into businesses to buy goods and services, and if they are not patronizing these businesses, the businesses will not need to hire employees at inflated rates of pay, like the outrageous $5/hr. Giving all of the money to a few people is a sound economic model. After all, the Middle Ages worked that way and lasted for 1000 years, whereas modern Capitalism has only lasted about 150 years and is having such problems as people demanding minimum wages and health care.

Businesses and corporations know what is best for people, because they aren't people and aren't afraid of silly things like illness, children, death and comfort. It is much better to let a non-human intinty make decisions for us than to leave it to the emotional whims of humans. Why should humans be comfortable when they can work?

Sarcasm and cynicism noted. LOL, you rock.

Emily Hadley 8 years, 3 months ago

Godot, there are minimum levels of commerce and employment which require businesses to adhere to federal guidelines. Smaller businesses are exempt.

Part of the proposed federal min. wage hike is doubling that minimum gross income of a business, as well as creating lots of tax cuts for businesses. In the end, the current federal proposal will cost tax payers more (paying businesses back more than their increased labor cost) and give workers less (by taking away many more employees' eligibility for federal wage law protection).

State wage laws protect workers whose employers are exempt from federal laws, as well as possibly raising their bar above federal guidelines.

Hope that helps.

SeaFox 8 years, 3 months ago

@ imastinker "This is a different time than it was 100 years ago. If you don't treat employees well - they leave. If they leave and you can't hire new ones - you go out of business."

People working at Wal-Mart would be interested to hear this.

Also, concerning the article:

"Ron Hein, legislative counsel for the Kansas Restaurant and Hospitality Association, said minimum wage laws often hurt those they are intended to help by causing employers to hire fewer people, or someone with more qualifications."

Hiring someone with more qualifications? Gee, that would suck. What a free market approach to employment. I would hate to live in a world where the people I deal with at businesses are actually knowledgeable in their duties.

As for hiring fewer people, if quality of service suffers, the business with just have to hire more help and raise prices. Consumers will make the decision whether to go to a business with lower prices or better service. That sounds like how the free market is supposed to work.

Linda Endicott 8 years, 3 months ago

There wouldn't be any CEOs if there weren't a whole bunch of peons on the front lines, making piddling wages and doing all the grunt work, so the CEOs can sit on their butts and rake in all that money.

bunnyhawk 8 years, 3 months ago

There is no foundation for this except greed and cruelty.

white_mountain 8 years, 3 months ago

If the minimum wage is so important, why stop at $7?

Why not make it $10 per hour?

$20?

white_mountain 8 years, 3 months ago

Why do people only want folks to make $7 per hour??

If we really care about folks, we need to make a true living wage, and let's be honest, it's at least $15 per hour.

kmat 8 years, 3 months ago

I deal with China on a daily basis, and when you do the math many employees in China (at non-govt owned companies in the larger cities) make better money than our minimum wage workers. Pretty sad when young Chinese workers make more money, get paid health care, get more paid holidays and more vacation time than hard working, minimum wage earning Americans.

And for those that will instantly attack me because you'll say you can't compare China to the USA, you are very wrong. I travel there frequently for business and understand how everything works and how the people live. China is very modern and they actually have labor shortages for educated employees. It won't be long before WE are considered beneath China. Pretty sad.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 3 months ago

I don't think even the neandertals proposing this expect that this will pass. I think what they expect to accomplish is to make their future, slightly less draconian measures seem "moderate."

werekoala 8 years, 3 months ago

It's a serious moral/philosophical question - what do you say to the guy who works hard for 40 hours a week, is always on time, works hard, and is dependable, yet still doesn't make enough money to feed, shelter, clothe, and insure himself?

-- Get an education? How, if he has no money? Should he rely on the government to provide it?

-- Get charity? Then he should be supported by others?

-- Lay down and die?

It's a serious question - what should be done about this person, making $5.15 an hour, or $206.00 a week, or $10,712.00 a year?

justsomewench 8 years, 3 months ago

"Lawrence already has an ordinance that requires companies that receive a tax abatement to pay at least $10.38 per hour."

can anyone provide a link to this specific clause? i know of at least one lawrence company that is WELL out of compliance with this.

Linda Endicott 8 years, 3 months ago

I think that for the amount of money these businesses are paying their lobbyists, they could hire many more people at a decent wage.

Let's put a cap on the amount that lobbyists can earn, and things will change in a big hurry.

KS 8 years, 3 months ago

I think the mimimum income for everyone should be at least $100,000.00 per year. Well, maybe we should make it $200,000.00! :) That should do it!

justsomewench 8 years, 3 months ago

right, candidate chestnut?

anyone have a link?

Dayna Lee 8 years, 3 months ago

Does anyone know why we have to tip waiters/waitresses paid normal wages?

white_mountain 8 years, 3 months ago

I don't have a problem with $30 or $40 per hour. That is a decent living wage.

If people really care like they say they do, why make the minimum wage so darn low??

About cable TV, it should be free for everyone. No one group has a right to be able to afford it anymore than another group.

Same for high-speed internet access. The poor kids are not getting the same internet access as the rich kids and are being disadvantaged.

Anyone who is in favor of raising the minimum wage, please explain to me why you're stopping at only $10 per hour and why you don't insist on $30 or $40 per hour. Do you not care about people??

white_mountain 8 years, 3 months ago

cool, will you join me in demanding that companies in Kansas pay their workers a decent living wage of at least $25 per hour (plus yearly cost of living adjustment)?

It's time for Kansas to set an example for the rest of the country and start DEMANDING these companies in Kansas pay their people what they're worth and to make sure their workers have DECENT health care and retirement pensions!

If these coldhearted companies don't like it they can just leave our state because we don't need their kind anyway!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 3 months ago

Those are wonderful topics for discussion, white-mountain, but they have absolutely nothing to do with a MINIMUM wage.


minimum |&&char114&& minÉmÉm| noun ( pl. -ma |-mÉ|or -mums ) [usu. in sing. ] the least or smallest amount or quantity possible, attainable, or required : technical difficulties have been kept to a minimum | they checked passports with the minimum of fuss. ¢ the lowest or smallest amount of a varying quantity (e.g., temperature) allowed, attained, or recorded : clients with a minimum of $500,000 to invest | winter minima of -40 ° C have been recorded. ¢ Mathematics a point at which a continuously varying quantity ceases to decrease and begins to increase; the value of a quantity at such a point. ¢ Mathematics the smallest element in a set. adjective [ attrib. ] smallest or lowest : this can be done with the minimum amount of effort. PHRASES at a (or the) minimum at the very least : we zipped along at a minimum of 55 mph. ORIGIN mid 17th cent.: from Latin, neuter of minimus 'least.'

white_mountain 8 years, 3 months ago

You can't say you're in favor of the little guy if you support a MINIMUM wage of less than $25 per hour or so, which is a decent living wage in Lawrence.

Those companies have profits. We need to squeeze them for those profits because you KNOW they won't give them voluntarily. The little guy is getting scr#)ed in all this and it's time to equal things out.

Godot 8 years, 3 months ago

White Mountain is right. Let's go all out. Hi-Def, flat screen TV should be a right. Everyone deserves at least one!

42 inch flat screens for all, with free cable (conveniently provided by Sunflower, thanks to the extra tax on your water bill.)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 3 months ago

Why don't you just admit that you can't logically support your arguments against a minimum wage rather than resorting to argumentum ad absurdum?

white_mountain 8 years, 3 months ago

Are you telling me that anything less than $25 per hour is a decent living wage in Lawrence??

Have you SEEN the prices of homes here? do you know the cost of health care? Do you know what it costs to raise children? To raise a family? Do you know what education costs these days?

It's perverted and wrong when people claim to stand for the little guy but are okay with him making only $10 per hour. Nobody would work for that much voluntarily.

white_mountain 8 years, 3 months ago

Why can't you admit that you don't care about the common worker and won't stand up for a decent living wage??

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 3 months ago

If you're truly serious, tell that to the idiots proposing this legislation, white-mountain.

But you don't really care about any of those things in your last post, do you?

Godot 8 years, 3 months ago

"It's perverted and wrong when people claim to stand for the little guy but are okay with him making only $10 per hour. Nobody would work for that much voluntarily."

Especially those who do not have to work at all.

white_mountain 8 years, 3 months ago

I'll just say this: there's no reason why we can't force these companies in Kansas to pay $25 per hour as a decent living wage.

I'm willing to hear arguments against though. If you believe we shouldn't make these companies pay it, tell me why.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 3 months ago

Raising the minimum wage will not solve all problems, and pointing out that it won't doesn't mean that not raising it (or eliminating it altogether) is better than raising it.

So I repeat--

Why don't you just admit that you can't logically support your arguments against a minimum wage rather than resorting to argumentum ad absurdum?

Godot 8 years, 3 months ago

If we raise the minium wage to $30 per hour, which seems reasonable, considering the wants of the average citizen, it follows that, in order to maintain the accepted chasm between the uber-privileged, like chancellors and athletic directors, and the not-so-privileged, like the rest of us, we would have to raise the wages of the uber-privilged by 300% or more.

let's hear it for $6,000,000 per year for Lew Perkins! Right on! He deserves it!

Godot 8 years, 3 months ago

Lew Perkins, being the government employee that he is, of course.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 3 months ago

So I repeat--

Why don't you just admit that you can't logically support your arguments against a minimum wage rather than resorting to argumentum ad absurdum?

white_mountain 8 years, 3 months ago

bozo, I'm not going to repeat myself.

If you don't want to provide me with reasons why we shouldn't force Kansas companies to pay a fair living wage of $25 (or $30 as Godot suggests) per hour, then just say so.

white_mountain 8 years, 3 months ago

Why shouldn't we force Kansas companies to pay a fair living wage of $25 per hour?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 3 months ago

"bozo, I'm not going to repeat myself."

Well, I guess that makes you a liar.

So I repeat-- Why don't you just admit that you can't logically support your arguments against a minimum wage rather than resorting to argumentum ad absurdum?

white_mountain 8 years, 3 months ago

Why shouldn't we force Kansas companies to pay a fair living wage of $25 per hour?

You can't win the argument without addressing my question.

white_mountain 8 years, 3 months ago

You can use whatever ad hominen argument you wish, but still the question remains:

Why shouldn't we force Kansas companies to pay a fair living wage of $25 per hour?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 8 years, 3 months ago

There should be a maximum wage. Dead beat CEO's should not be allowed to make more than 2 times more than their lowest paid employee. Then he/she can either raise others wages or live like a real person. How many companies have been ripped off lately by useless CEO's who can't do anything but pad their pockets.

ronwell_dobbs 8 years, 3 months ago

Ok, team:

Let's sort this one out. It comes down to a simple argument in the end -- should there be a baseline minimum at which a company that has the resources to survive on its own be able to drive down the cost at which a human being, generally without great bargaining power, has the ability to contract his/her services to provide labor to the company for which the company can extract a profit (known as earnings) from said person's physical/mental efforts?

If you are of the philosophical bent that there should be a minimum, such that persons will not bargain themselves to the $0.01/hr mark, then you are for a minimum wage. The only question remains, what is the right dollar amount per hour that is work the American human's dignity. If you are against this proposal then you have to admit that you are willing to allow the value of a human being's hour worth of physical/mental labor to be bargained down to a $0.01/hour rate.

Please folks -- let's keep this argument based on logical outcomes!

Ronwell

white_mountain 8 years, 3 months ago

How does a minimum wage prevent outsourcing?

If we are serious about this then we need a law that prevents companies from moving overseas.

We should require them to stay right here, and to hire more people and pay them a decent living wage of $25 per hour or greater.

Government is best at managing jobs, wages, and where companies are located. We have seen time and again how the capitalist system has failed us.

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