‘Living wage’ ordinances struck down

The Wisconsin State Assembly last night passed a bill preempting local “living wage” ordinances.

WisPolitics, a media partner of BizTimes, reported the bill passed with a 56-37 vote, with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed.

The amended version of the bill, Assembly Bill 750, would bar such ordinances only when state or federal money is involved in covering those salaries.

Speaker Robin Vos (R – Rochester) argued the bill isn’t about local control, but rather about the ability of local officials to pass increased labor costs onto the state.

“They can’t automatically inflate the state of Wisconsin’s costs, because that’s what’s happening all across the state of Wisconsin today,” said Vos.

Democrats called the measure another attack on local control, and argued Republicans had restricted local officials’ ability to raise the revenue needed to fund their own projects with living wage standards.

“I don’t see how you can claim that you are really the conservatives that represent the conservative philosophy of limited government,” said Rep. Fred Kessler, (D – Milwaukee).

Rep. John Klenke (R – Green Bay) countered Dem criticism of the bill, saying the measure in fact embraces local control.

“If it comes out of your pocket, you can do whatever you want,” Klenke said.

Assembly Bill 750 was introduced by Rep. Chris Kapenga (R – Delafield) and co-sponsored by State Senator Glenn Grothman (R – West Bend).

Earlier this month, the Milwaukee County Board voted 12-6 to approve a “living wage” ordinance, which says employees of Milwaukee County and employees of contractors doing business with the county would have to be paid a minimum of $11.32 per hour.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele plans to veto the ordinance.

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