Oklahoma bans local wage hikes


Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) (Sue Ogrocki/ AP)

Cities and counties won’t be allowed to raise the minimum wage under a law signed Monday by Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R).

Under the new law, which passed the state legislature on party-line votes earlier this year, cities would be prohibited from raising the minimum wage above the $7.25 federal mark, and they would be prevented from requiring employers to provide sick days to their employees.

Backers of the new law said differing wages in different cities would be a hardship for businesses. In a statement, Fallin said different wage laws would hurt job creation.

In recent years, cities and localities across the country have unilaterally increased their minimum wages without waiting for state action. Santa Fe raised its minimum wage in 2003. Last year, voters in Seatac, Wash., a small suburb of Seattle, set the minimum wage for airport workers at $15 an hour. The Richmond, Calif., city council voted last month to raise the minimum wage to $12.30 an hour by 2017.

Los Angeles and Seattle are considering raising their minimum wages to $15.37 and $15 an hour, respectively.

But that option won’t be available to Oklahoma municipalities. Supporters of a higher minimum wage are in the process of gathering the 80,000 signatures necessary to get an initiative on the ballot in Oklahoma City that would boost the minimum wage from the federal $7.25 an hour mark to $10.10 an hour.

Reid Wilson covers state politics and policy for the Washington Post's GovBeat blog. He's a former editor in chief of The Hotline, the premier tip sheet on campaigns and elections, and he's a complete political junkie.
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