Tuesday, August 23, 2011

NH State Rep Wants to Eliminate All Minimum Wage

The current NH legislature has made a concerted effort to try to overturn nearly every law enacted during the 4 years that the Democrats controlled the NH House. One example of this is the minimum wage law, which was increased in 2007 from $5.15 to $7.25, over the screams of the NH restaurant lobby. The law gives the state the option of increasing the minimum wage, as opposed to waiting for the increase to be made by the federal government. Even having the option was too much for the current NH House, who voted to repeal the bill. Governor Lynch vetoed the bill - and the veto was overridden in June. From seacoastonline:

"With this veto, the governor is sending exactly the wrong message to employers that New Hampshire is going to make it harder to create jobs," O'Brien said in response. "There is no reason for New Hampshire to set ourselves higher than the national average and make ourselves less competitive for these workers who need to gain experience."

The legislation, House Bill 133, would not change the current federal rate of $7.25 an hour, which has been in place since July 2009. It would repeal a 2007 measure that gave New Hampshire the option of raising the minimum wage, which it did by raising the state rate of $7.25 in 2008 ahead of the federal rate. The bill passed the House and Senate by veto proof majorities but Lynch vetoed the bill anyway. "New Hampshire's current minimum wage is set at the federal level, and it is appropriate," Lynch said. "But four years ago, we agreed that — after a decade of federal inaction — we needed to act to help families meet rising costs."

Speaker O'Brien has yet to explain why it would be beneficial to NH to create more minimum wage jobs.

The political and economic debate over the minimum wage has been constant since it was first set in 1938 at 25 cents an hour. Even though New Hampshire is even with the federal standard, O'Brien said Lynch's veto was an "anti-business" measure that would take "an ax to the bottom rung of the career ladder" for minimum wage workers.

Oh, that's it! The bottom rung of the career ladder is poverty. Speaker O'Brien got a law degree in 1974. It seems that his career ladder relied on education, not minimum wage jobs.

Freshman State Rep. Carol McGuire thinks that ANY minimum wage is a bad idea. From Think Progress:

State Rep. Carol McGuire (R-NH), the sponsor of the law, still believes the federal minimum wage is too high. In a statement to reporters, she said she would like to repeal all minimum wage laws and have corporations pay workers whatever rate they desire. She also said the $7.25 minimum is overly generous to young people who are “not worth the minimum“:
“It’s very discriminatory, particularly for young people. They’re not worth the minimum,” she said. She believes there are young people who would get a job if they could be paid $5 an hour instead of the minimum.

The only explanation for this kind of thinking is that these folks are living in a Norman Rockwell dream world, where young men (because girls stay home) get jobs at the soda fountain of the local drugstore, while wearing a pink striped seersucker shirt. They are certainly not inhabiting the world the rest of us inhabit, and try to make a living in.

The NH House is the third largest legislature in the English speaking world, behind only the British Parliament and the US Congress. The NH House consists of 400 members, who receive an annual stipend of $100. One could make the observation that NH is certainly getting what it pays for with the current legislature.

cross-posted at MainSt/workingamerica.org

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