Iowa Republican leaders: No minimum wage increase

Higher county levels will be nullified

Rep. Linda Upmeyer

Iowa House speaker
Rep. Linda Upmeyer Iowa House speaker

DES MOINES — Top Republicans in the Iowa House and the Iowa Senate said Thursday they do not expect the Legislature to consider increasing the statewide minimum wage of $7.25 an hour this session.

GOP senators held out the possibility of a separate minimum wage bill this week during a committee discussion of legislation to void higher county-level wage minimums, but Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock, and House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, said that won’t happen.

“I anticipate no separate minimum wage bill,” Dix told reporters.

Upmeyer said representatives approved the local pre-emption bill earlier this month after turning back Democratic amendments “to do just that.” Members of the House GOP caucus, she said, are not asking to take up a bill to increase the minimum wage this session.

“That’s not been one of their priorities this year,” Upmeyer told reporters.

House File 295, which currently is eligible for debate in the Senate, includes provisions to immediately bar cities and counties from usurping state authority in business and employment matters and the sale or marketing of consumer merchandise.

That would include prohibiting cities and counties from setting minimum wages higher than the statewide $7.25 hourly level. It also would nullify local minimum wages not in compliance with the bill’s provisions or state law.

Officials in Johnson, Linn, Polk and Wapello counties have approved minimum wage levels in their areas that are higher than $7.25.

Senate Minority Leader Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, said he anticipates Democrats will offer amendments to raise the statewide minimum wage if Republicans bring up House File 295 for consideration.

“I would imagine there are members of the Republican caucus who don’t think they should be voting for bills that drive down wages for Iowans,” he said.

Gov. Terry Branstad has told reporters he would be open to considering a “modest” increase in the state’s minimum wage, but Upmeyer said Thursday “the governor and I have not discussed that topic.”