The House of Representatives today defeated Republican Rep. Robin Lundstrum’s bill to roll back the voter-approved minimum wage increase as it pertains to people aged 16 through 18. The vote was 34-42, with 10 voting present. It needed 67 votes to pass as a change to a voter-approved initiated act.
Lundstrum said her HB 1753 had been changed in material ways since it was introduced. She said it would eliminate a little-used provision in the law that allows a sub-minimum wage to be paid to teens and also eliminate a reporting requirement on hours worked for full-time students.
Her bill would freeze the minimum wage at $9.25 an hour for teens, and exempt them from two scheduled raises to $11 by 2021. She acknowledged people had voted for the increases, “but they didn’t have a second or third button to push that said I don’t want to hurt teens.”
She said her bill would make teens more “competitive” in the job market.
Only Rep. John Walker (D-Little Rock) spoke in opposition to the bill. “This matter was submitted to the voters of this state. They overwhelmingly passed the bill to raise the minimum wage. They did not make the exception that is being proposed.”
He said Lundstrum had no objective evidence, only her belief, to support the position that the voters’ will should be changed. “There’s no answer other than that it is ‘in my head.’ “
UPDATE: David Ramsey explains how one of Lundstrum’s talking points wasn’t what it seemed:
Lundstrum’s reference to the provision that allows full-time students to be paid 85% of the minimum wage was misleading. Only 9 employers currently have the waiver to use that provision, impacting 58 students.
Employers don’t have to get these waivers to employ students (and don’t have any additional paperwork requirements) so long as they simply pay the full minimum wage.
She referenced the 85% number for this year, but her law wouldn’t go into effect until next year, when 85% will be $8.50. By 2021 and beyond, 85% will be $9.35—so the “sub-minimum wage” under this provision will be HIGHER than the minimum of $9.25 she’s proposing.