A possible minimum wage is now dead for the session after the Senate Finance Committee killed the bill.
Along with equal pay, Gov. Edwards has made increasing the minimum wage a priority since he took office, and he’s championing the latest effort to do so in this year’s regular legislative session.
Last month, the Senate Labor Committee passed Senate Bill 153, which would raise the state minimum wage to $8 per hour in 2018 and again to $8.50 per hour in 2019. Student workers, tipped workers, and some agricultural workers would be exempt. Louisiana currently has no state minimum wage and instead uses the federal rate of $7.25 per hour.
In 2016, a similar proposal advanced from committee, but got waylaid because it required approval from a second committee due to the fact that raising the minimum wage would apply to state workers and therefore impact the beleaguered state budget. Ultimately, the measure lost momentum and didn’t proceed further. This year, the 4-2 committee vote broke along party lines, and the measure faced continued obstacles from the full Legislature.
NFIB/LA, along with other business groups, opposed the proposal to mandate and set wages. Although well-intended, they can lead to job losses and create more difficulty for lower-skilled workers to obtain employment, plus overly burden small businesses. Several media outlets reported State Director Dawn Starns’ comments, including The Associated Press: “The cost of doing business has gone up over the past three years in this state, so it makes it very difficult for a small business to keep its doors open.”
Starns also told The Advocate that there is never a good time to increase the cost of doing business and that the market has to drive wages, rather than the government.