The House Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations on Thursday killed four bills seeking to raise the minimum wage through different approaches.
House Bill 472, sponsored by Rep. Tammy Phelps, D-Shreveport, sought to increase the tipped minimum wage. Presently, tipped employees, defined as those who make at least $30 per month in tips, can be paid as little as $2.13 an hour by their employers as long as they make at least $7.25 after tips.
The bill would have increased the employers’ part of the wage to $4.26 an hour.
“None of the good times that we offer here in Louisiana would be possible if it were not for our service employees to work for these businesses,” Phelps said.
House Bill 101, sponsored by Rep. Malinda White, I-Bogalusa, sought to raise the minimum wage for state employees to $9 an hour.
White told the committee that she used to earn the minimum wage as a single mother. “It’s not right,” she said.
Rep. Dodie Horton, R-Haughton, said that public employees making below $9 in Louisiana were “unskilled laborers.”
Peter Robins-Brown, executive director for Louisiana Progress, pushed back on Horton’s characterization.
“These are skilled jobs,” Robins-Brown said. “I’m not very good with landscaping, you know, but I think that’s a skill. You know, I don’t think that any job is unskilled.”
House Bill 311, sponsored by Rep. Denise Marcelle, D-Baton Rouge, sought to set the minimum wage to $10 an hour in 2023 and $12 in 2024.
“People will pay what they have to pay, and of course, that’s their profit margin that’s going to go down,” Marcelle said. “I understand that, but what I don’t understand is people who have been elected by the citizens of the state not putting the people first. I’m all for businesses. I believe the same thing that Rep. White said–when we put the money in the hands of the citizens, they will spend the money in the economy.”
Rep. Raymond Crews, R-Bossier City, opposed the bill, arguing that it would make it harder for job seekers to find positions.
“I think it actually makes Louisiana worse off and reduces opportunities for employment,” Crews said.
House Bill 229, sponsored by Rep. Kyle Green, D-Marrero, sought to place a constitutional amendment raising the minimum wage to $11.65 on the ballot so that voters could decide whether they want it.
“The reason why I put in $11.65 an hour was I thought it was a middle-of-the-road approach, because when you take into consideration as to what the minimum wage increase was when it was enacted by Congress in July of 2007 to the current level, at seven and a quarter, when you do the CPI index,” Green said, “what that is now the value is $11.65 an hour.”
— By Piper Hutchinson, LSU Manship School News Service