State Minimum Wage on Hold for Another Day

By: Zac Schultz
By: Zac Schultz

Madison: A bill that would eliminate Madison's minimum wage increase has been stalled for another day at the Capitol.

Senate Democrats are hoping to reach a compromise that would increase the statewide minimum wage at the same time.

Senate Bill 147 would pre-empt and overturn local minimum wage ordinances. Madison's minimum wage went up in January, and other communities around the state are doing the same thing.

"We should not have wage islands and patchworks that make it confusing for businesses located in different parts of the state and create unfair business practices," says Senate President Alan Lasee (R-DePere).

Republicans had the votes to pass the bill, so Democrats used a procedural technique to block a vote for another day.

"The idea is to give the Republicans some time this afternoon to talk with the governor and work out the differences they have or at least rationally explain why they don't want to increase the minimum wage," says Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton).

Senate Majority Leader Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) made no promises.

"I am not going to talk to the Governor today. I did talk to the governor last week."

Democrats accuse the Republicans of holding up a statewide minimum wage increase in committee. They offered to agree to pre–empt the locals if Republicans approve the statewide increase.

"I'm convinced the only way you can get to the minimum wage increase is to accept something like the pre–emption, whether I like it or not," says Sen. Robert Jauch (D-Poplar).

But other Democrats fear the pre–emption would also wipe out a local law that forces government contractors to pay a living wage.

"This not only pre–empts the minimum wage but also would pre–empt the living wages that currently exist in Madison and Dane County," says Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay).

Sen. Schultz couldn't guarantee anything. "We're looking at that. That's a good question. Some people were trying to do some research on this."

Democrats say if they don't get their compromise they expect the governor to veto the bill.

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