Saturday, February 24, 2007

Score one for Captain Obvious (H113)

Well, again I am amazed at the legislative process. Yesterday, we (Idaho State Representatives) spent a good deal of our time "debating" a bill that accomplishes virtually nothing. The bill, H113, was couched by Republican leadership as minimum wage bill, but that is probably an overly generous title. The bill had two basic provisions, they were:
  1. Set the minimum wage rate in Idaho to the Federal rate
  2. Freeze the tipped credit amount at $3.35

Okay, so Captain Obvious might say, "Doesn't Idaho have to match the Federal rate anyway?" YES! And that's the point as to why this bill was so worthless. By passing H113, which I voted against (along with 17 Dems and 1 Republican) we accomplish nothing other than ensuring that tipped employees get less money and Idaho's low wage earners (more than just teenagers) will always be the lowest paid in the country.

As many of you already know, I am not the sort of partisan hack that will bash on the other party just to make myself feel good. I find value in ideas not party caucus positions. That is, if a legislator comes out with a plan, I judge it on the merits of the plan, not the person or party responsible. All this to say that I am not writing this to bash on Republican House Leadership. I am merely pointing out the obvious flaw in the plan, it doesn't do anything!

Let me give you an example. Let's say the Feds gave us a law requiring we all eat one Idaho potato per day. What we accomplished with H113 would be like Idaho passing a law saying that we would require people to eat one Idaho potato per day. The bill wouldn't do anything, because the Feds would have already been requiring us to do it.

The tipped credit issue is a bit more complicated and I don't really want to address it at this point, but in short, it means tipped employees will be worse off by being required to earn more tips to get the compensation that would have.

I have been a proponent for raising the minimum wage for some time. I think it is unfortunate that Idaho always lags behind in wages, and the minimum wage is no different. A lot of us see H113 as a political maneuver that was meant to make Democrats look anti-minimum wage. So, if in the next election you get a piece of mail or a robocall that says I am against the minimum wage, you'll know where I really stand.


Cowboy said...

Yo Captain
Why do you say H113 is a worthless bill because it ties minimum wage to the Feds? It sure sounds like you don't have much confidence in your own party. remember the dems have the majority!!! Maybe your lack of faith in your own party does make this a bad, worthless bill and I'm glad you voted aginst that bill

Branden Durst said...

Its worthless because it doesn't do anything. Not passing anything would have accomplished the same thing, minus the hurt to tipped employees.

Idaho shouldn't rely on the Feds to act in order to get a higher minimum wage. Thats not leadership. We should have raised it ourselves.