By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The Birmingham City Council unilaterally raised the minimum wage inside the city leading to an outcry from business owners who were worried about the possibility that the state could have different wages from one limits to the next.
On Thursday, February 25, the Alabama Senate passed, the Alabama Uniform Minimum Wage and Right to Work Act, House Bill 174. HB174 was sponsored by State Representative David Faulkner (R-Mountain Brook) and State Senator Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills).
Sen. Waggoner said, “Senate Republicans deserve credit for championing and affirming that free enterprise creates opportunity for all. By passing the Alabama Uniform Minimum Wage and Right to Work Act, we are protecting job creators from having to deal with dozens of different minimum wages and labor rules that would vary from city to city.”
Rep. Faulkner said on his blog that he co-sponsored this Bill along with 52 other representatives from Alabama. “The Bill does NOT set the minimum wage. Nor does it restrict it.” “All the Bill does is state that Alabama will have one statewide minimum wage. That’s it. The intention of this Bill is to SAVE jobs and keep businesses out of stress. We want to keep jobs where they are. Non-profits would struggle mightily without the Uniform Wage Bill.” Faulkner said “Business owners know what will happen should they have a mandated increase in their city, while surrounding cities have different wage policies.”
Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) said that the bill ensures that, “Alabama has a uniform, jobs-friendly minimum wage that is competitive with other Southern states. The rhetoric of Bernie Sanders and the radical left may sound appealing, but study after study clearly show that when a state or local government raise the minimum wage, employers hire fewer people. It should be noted, too, that only 6.8 percent of Alabama’s workers earn the minimum wage. My focus is on policies that will grow the economy and increase the number of jobs in our State.”
Sen, Waggoner said, “We want businesses to expand and create more jobs – not cut entry-level jobs because a patchwork of local minimum wages causes operating costs to rise. Our actions today will create predictability and consistency for Alabama’s economy, which benefits everyone.”
Senator Linda Coleman-Madison (D-Birmingham) opposed the legislation. Sen. Coleman wrote in a statement, “Alabama is one of five states which do not have a state minimum wage law, joining Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee in paying its lowest paid workers the federal standard of $7.25 since 2009.”
Sen. Coleman-Madison wrote, “Not only do I believe it is time for the state to raise its minimum wage to at least $10.10, but I also feel the state should not dictate what local municipalities can and cannot do, especially those which are trying to improve the quality of life and raise the living wage for citizens and those working within their jurisdiction. The Birmingham City Council approved raising the city’s minimum wage to $10.10, beginning with an $8.50 increase which takes effect on March 1, of this year, and moving to $10.10 by July of 2017. However, House Bill 174 sponsored by Rep. David Faulkner (R-Birmingham), which passed 71-31 on Tuesday, Feb. 16, is an attempt to block the City of Birmingham from implementing its new local ordinance aimed at lifting residents out of poverty. In fact, it seems the intent of the bill is to create a state law preventing cities from setting individual minimum wage laws, which effectively would kill Birmingham’s ordinance before it takes effect.”
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) has already signed the legislation, HB174.
Sen. Coleman-Madison said, “Since those who voted in favor of the bill are opposed to municipalities proposing their’ own ordinances, I am sponsoring Senate Bill 185, which will raise the minimum wage to $10.10 throughout the entire state, providing all Alabamians a decent working wage.”
The bill prevents local governments from instituting a minimum wage and requires all cities and counties in Alabama to use the federal wage standards as a measure. Proponents claim that passage means businesses across Alabama will again have a predictable wage standard, which they say will encourage economic growth.