Tuesday, January 30, 2007

House Dems Divide and Conquer

House Democrats successfully passed a minimum wage increase today coupled with a doubling of the state's inheritance tax exemption by a vote of 71-29, capturing 20 GOP votes along the way.

HB 1027 raises the state's minimum wage $2.35 in a three-step process beginning September 1 of this year until it reaches $7.50 per hour by September 1, 2008. The state's minimum wage is currently $5.15. The bill also doubles the inheritance tax exemption from $100,000 to $200,000. And it authorizes the Department of Labor to pursue wage claims against employers in amounts up to $6,000. Current law limits the Department of Labor to $800 in wage claims.

It's understandable that close to half the Republican members decided to join their Democratic colleagues in supporting HB 1027. There are good arguments for each of the bill's provisions. The wage claim statute, in particular, is a very strong protection for employees who are beat out of their wages by dishonest employers. Because employees are required to hire an attorney if their wage claim exceeds $800, many claims go uncollected because the employee can't afford to front the payment for the attorney's fees. An employee can recover attorney's fees under the wage payment statute, but most attorneys won't front the costs for the litigation and the employee is often jobless when the claim arises and unable to cover the costs. Typically, only the larger wage claims get litigated.

1 comment:

Kenn Gividen said...

Inheritance tax should be eliminated.