John Kasich blocks Ohio cities from raising their own minimum wages

The legislation is in direct response to an upcoming city vote on a $15 minimum wage.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) CREDIT: AP Photo/John Minchillo
Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) CREDIT: AP Photo/John Minchillo

This week, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) signed a bill that blocks any city or other local government in the state from raising its own minimum wage above the state’s floor of $8.10 an hour.

The legislation, which was passed by state lawmakers earlier in the month, was in direct response to an upcoming vote in Cleveland on whether to raise its wage. While the state’s wage will raise to $8.15 next year, Cleveland residents will vote in May on whether to raise their minimum to $12 by 2018 and $15 by 2021. With the new law in place, however, they won’t actually have any power to raise their minimum wage.

Ohio joins a growing number of states that have passed such preemption laws blocking cities from increasing their own minimum wages and implementing paid sick leave requirements. According to a ThinkProgress analysis, 20 states have already passed such laws, including 19 that specifically target minimum wage raises, 11 of which have been enacted since 2013. Fifteen ban local paid sick leave measures.

These laws have ramped up just as the successful movement for a higher minimum wage has taken off. In 2012, the Fight for 15 movement was launched with the first-ever fast food industry strike in New York City. Since then, state and local minimum wage increases have boosted pay for 19 million workers by a collective $61.5 billion.

And 2016 was the most successful year in the movement so far. According to the National Employment Law Project, 21 minimum wage increases were approved this year, including 14 at the local level. There are now 19 places that have raised their minimum wages to $15 an hour, including two states.


Meanwhile, 30 municipalities and seven states have passed laws requiring employers to offer their workers paid sick days.

A number of the preemption laws have, as in Ohio, come in direct response to these kinds of local campaigns. Arizona’s passed after a movement began in Flagstaff to increase the minimum wage and guarantee paid sick leave. Alabama lawmakers passed their law to block a $10.10 minimum wage increase in Birmingham.

The counter-movement of preemption legislation has also been fueled by partisan interests. Of the 20 laws blocking higher minimum wages, 14 — including Ohio’s — were signed into law by a Republican governor. The American Legislative Exchange Council, a coalition of conservative lawmakers and private sector groups, has also been heavily involved in these efforts, and many of the laws are based off of the organization’s model bills.