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Upmeyer: Employers Don’t Have to Lower Wages if Minimum Wage Bill Passes

Joyce Russell/IPR
House Speaker Linda Upmeyer (R-Clear Lake)

The top Republican in the Iowa House is downplaying concerns about a bill that advanced this week to throw out higher minimum wage laws currently in effect in four Iowa counties.  

The bill would mandate the same $7.25 minimum wage statewide, so higher wages approved in Polk, Linn, Johnson and Wapello counties would be repealed.  

Employers can pay whatever they wish

House Speaker Linda Upmeyer (R-Clear Lake) says that doesn’t mean wages in those communities will automatically go down.

“Remember that no employer is required to lower whatever they're paying,”” Upmeyer said.
“Employers can pay whatever they wish and whatever competition requires.

“We’ve got the lowest unemployment we’ve ever had in this state,” Upmeyer added.

Currently the hourly wage in Wapello County is $8.20, though it is scheduled to increase to $10.10 in 2019.

Business groups support the bill.   They argue the patchwork of minimum wage laws in Iowa is   unworkable.

There is an appetite to do some preemption

Upmeyer says the House and Senate may differ on whether the four counties that have already raised the wage should be exempted from the bill.

“Our members will have different ideas,” Upmeyer said.  “We’ll have conversations as we take up the bill.”  

Speaking at a legislative forum sponsored by the Greater Des Moines Partnership in December, a Republican Senate leader said there’s interest in  grandfathering in counties that have already raised the wage.  

"Ultimately what that bill looks like we don't know yet but there is an appetite to do some pre-emption,” said Senate Presidnet Jack Whitver (R-Ankeny.)

The House State Government Committee approved the bill Thursday, sending it on to the full House for debate.