Idaho House Committee Passes Measure to Stifle Local Authority on Minimum Wage 

click to enlarge ERIC HUNT, CC BY 3.0

A plan to clamp down on Idaho cities bumping up their own minimum wages passed through an Idaho House committee Monday afternoon along party lines, sending it to the full Idaho House for consideration.

"This is not a discussion on whether the minimum wage should be raised or not," said Pam Eaton, president of the Idaho Retail Association in her introduction of House Bill 463. "This is about the damage that can be done by checkerboard regulations and an un-level playing field."

Idaho House Minority Leader John Rusche (D-Lewiston) pushed back, saying the measure puts Idaho communities in a "double-bind" because the "Idaho Legislature has refused to hear a statewide minimum wage bill. How do you suggest that Idaho deal with the problem of a minimum wage that doesn't support Idaho families?"

Idaho Freedom Foundation President Wayne Hoffman testified in favor of the bill, arguing "real local authority" should be in the hands of business owners instead of municipalities when it came to the issue of setting wages.

"We don't talk enough about the ability of a business to make wage decisions on their own," said Hoffman, who pointed to his own daughter, who earns minimum wage at a Boise job. "If the city of Boise were to raise its minimum wage, it would probably mean my daughter would lose her job. This bill removes the possibility that a local government could create ripples in the economy and put jobs at risk."

Rep. Paulette Jordan (D-Plummer) asked that the bill be held in committee, but to no avail. Ultimately, Rusche, Jordan and the committee's only other Democrat, Rep. Elaine Smith (D-Pocatello), voted "no" while the measure passed with the full support of the committee's 14 Republican representatives.
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