A growing number of states are stripping cities of their power to regulate minimum wages. Alabama is just the latest.
Gov. Robert Bentley (R) signed such a restriction into law on Thursday, blocking attempts by the state’s largest city, Birmingham, to impose a $10.10 hourly minimum wage.
“The governor believes the minimum wage should be uniform across every area in Alabama,” spokeswoman Jennifer Ardis told the Associated Press after he signed it. It “was the right call for both employers and workers,” State Sen. Slade Blackwell (R) said in a Saturday editorial published on AL.com. They’re not alone.
Michigan became the 16th state to ban municipalities from setting new minimum wages last July, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Stateline publication.
Missouri joined that list in September when lawmakers overrode a veto by Gov. Jay Nixon (D) on a similar measure — one he called in a letter explaining his opposition a “clear example of unwarranted government intrusion.”
“This bill would inject the heavy hand of state government into issues typically addressed through the local democratic process,” he wrote.
And Idaho could be next: A similar bill is headed to the full state Senate after it was passed out of committee this week in a party-line vote. Republicans there control both chambers in the state legislature and the governor’s mansion.
Cities across the country have sought to raise worker wages in recent years. Liberals believe doing so will boost the local economy and quality of life for low-wage workers. Conservatives argue that the move will backfire, forcing employers to downsize, leaving some jobless.
Alabama is one of only five states — along with Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee — without a minimum wage of its own. As a result, it defaults to the federal floor of $7.25.