Editorial: House Republicans attempt to restrict liberties

Iowa State Capitol

Iowa State Capitol

Editorial Board

Republicans in the Iowa House of Representatives have recently introduced a bill that bars Iowa counties and cities from raising the minimum wage above the current state level of $7.25.

House Study Bill 92 introduced by Rep. Jake Highfill, R-Johnston, is apparently the Republican response to local communities raising the minimum wage above the state mandate. Four counties have already raised the wage after local residents grew tired of waiting for a change on a state or national level.

The proposed bill is both an affront to Iowa workers and to local governments that responded to local demand. House Republicans are overstepping their bounds to ensure that hard-working Iowans are not paid fair wages for their work. Denying families a living wage that lifts them out of poverty is not the Iowa values that we should stand for.

Moreover, the residents of Wapello, Polk, Linn and Johnson took local action to ensure members of their communities were paid a livable wage. They saw the injustice of the low minimum wage and the ineffectiveness of our state and national elected officials to raise the wage. Specifically, local county boards and city councils listened to their constituents and performed their democratic duty of responding with a wanted policy. House Study Bill 92, which would amend the Iowa Civil Rights Act of 1965, seeks to take that power away from local citizens. As millions of people are demanding a livable wage, the House Republicans are responding by restricting the power of local politicians and leaders.  

This bill is a classic example of a proposed solution in search of a problem. The fact that local counties are setting higher standards for their employment is not troublesome nor harmful to the state or its citizens. In fact, it adheres to the conservative ideology that looks at local communities as laboratories of self-governance.

Additionally, the bill would lower the minimum wages in those counties that already raised them. The state, specifically the Republicans who would vote for the bill, would be handing down minimum wage workers in those communities a pay cut.

With a budget shortfall of $118 million and water quality in the state in need of critical assistance, surely the Republicans in the House have more pressing issues to address other than giving the most at-risk wage earners a pay cut and taking rights away from local communities.

It’s understandable to want a single law for businesses to follow in regard to paying employees at locations across the state. But businesses must respect the demands and wants of local communities that identify a need to raise the minimum wage. Corporate interests and simplicity for businesses should not be the priority of the state over the wants of its people.