NEWS

Iowa House inaction on minimum wage blamed on 'terrible trio'

Coalition says Republican lawmakers blocking increase

The House chamber at the State Capitol Building in Des Moines on Wednesday, January 15, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette-KCRG TV9)
The House chamber at the State Capitol Building in Des Moines on Wednesday, January 15, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette-KCRG TV9)

DES MOINES — A coalition supporting a Senate-passed hike in Iowa’s minimum wage to $8.75 an hour is taking its campaign to the hometowns of the “terrible trio” of House members they say is blocking the increase.

Raise the Wage Iowa, a coalition of labor unions, community action groups and church-related groups, placed the blame on Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, and Labor Committee Chairman Gregg Forristall, R-Macedonia.

“This terrible trio of state legislators are more to blame than anyone in the state of Iowa for us falling behind our neighbors,” Matt Sinovic of Progress Iowa said at a Statehouse news conference Tuesday. Neighboring states, Sinovic said, have raised their minimum wages since Iowa increased it in 2007.

Unless the House acts before Friday, Senate File 269 will not be eligible for action this year. Friday is the deadline for bills approved by the Senate to be approved by a House Committee.

Paulsen, who voted for the 2007 increase, said he doesn’t intend to take up the bill this year.

“House Republicans are interested in creating an environment where employers can hire people at wages they can actually raise a family on,” he said. Raising the minimum wage wouldn’t achieve that, he said, and it would hurts some low-wage workers who would lose their jobs.

Republicans are interested in providing education and skills training to help low-wage workers get better-paying jobs, streamlining regulatory processes to make Iowa more attractive to employers and making sure the state doesn’t overtax or overspend.

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Raise the Wage Iowa planned to have similar news conferences in Hiawatha, Clear Lake and Macedonia, which are represented by Paulsen, Upmeyer and Forristall, respectively.

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