NFIB says minimum wage, equal pay bills would drive up cost of doing business in Louisiana

BATON ROUGE — NFIB State Director Dawn Starns says small-business owners are urging their senators to vote “no” on two bills that would drive up the cost of doing business in Louisiana.

Senate Bill 162 by Sen. Troy Carter would create a state minimum wage that’s higher than the federal rate of $7.25 an hour. Senate Bill 118 by Sen. J.P. Morrell is so-called equal pay legislation that would do little besides create a new excuse for disgruntled workers to sue their employers.

“Creating a state minimum wage and increasing it to $8.50 an hour on Jan. 1, 2020, and enforcing compliance with the federal rate would hurt the very people proponents say they’re trying to help,” Starns said.

“Small businesses have only so much money in their budgets,” she said. “If the state mandates an increase in the cost of labor, then employers are going to have to raise prices or try to get by with fewer workers. Raising the minimum wage to $8.50 per hour would make it even harder for low-skilled or first-time workers to get jobs.”

Starns said SB 118 is simply unnecessary. “Federal law already guarantees equal pay for equal work,” she said. “The fact of the matter is that employers may have legitimate reasons for paying some employees more than others. For example, someone with more tenure who does an outstanding job may earn more than a co-worker who does the same tasks, regardless of gender.

“If SB 118 passes, anyone who thinks they deserve a raise can file a lawsuit in order to get it,” Starns said. “SB 118 isn’t about ensuring equality. It’s about creating new opportunities for trial lawyers.”