As President Obama pushes to increase the national minimum wage, Mississippi Republicans are digging in their heels to prevent any similar efforts in the Hospitality State. A bill working its way through the Republican-controlled Mississippi legislature aims to ensure that no local government enacts a mandatory minimum wage or other worker protections. Mississippi has no statewide minimum wage whatsoever (so it follows the national minimum wage).
The 2012 national Republican platform made clear that the party believes in local decision-making. Endorsing the notion of “solving local and State problems through local and State innovations,” the GOP pledged to “restore the proper balance between the federal government and the governments closest to, and most reflective of, the American people.”
But the idea that local governments might pass legislation to guarantee workers a livable hourly wage scares legislators like State Rep. Jerry R. Turner (R). His proposal, House Bill 141, mandates:
No county, board of supervisors of a county, municipality or governing authority of a municipality is authorized to establish a mandatory, minimum living wage rate, minimum number of vacation or sick days, whether paid or unpaid, that would regulate how a private employer pays its employees.
The bill claims that such a law is “necessary to ensure an economic climate conducive to new business development and job growth in the State of Mississippi.” While it notes that any debate on such matters “should be assigned to the Mississippi Legislature,” it also specifically states that the majority is “not suggesting a state minimum wage or minimum benefit package.” The bill passed the House earlier this month and now awaits action in the Senate’s Accountability, Efficiency, Transparency Committee.
Turner drew attention earlier this year for a bill prohibiting localities from establishing New York City-style regulations on unhealthy foods or requiring additional nutritional labeling at fast food restaurants.