Democrats to push minimum wage hike in Louisville pending AG's o - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Democrats to push minimum wage hike in Louisville pending AG's opinion

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Attica Scott (Source: WAVE 3 News) Attica Scott (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Ken Fleming (Source: WAVE 3 News) Ken Fleming (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Metro Council Democrats are poised to approve a $10.10 an hour minimum wage across Louisville, as long as Kentucky's attorney general gives his blessing.

Some of the caucus's 17 members said they would like to move forward immediately. But it's better to wait for Attorney General Jack Conway to decide whether Metro Council has the legal authority to control the local minimum wage, Councilwoman Attica Scott said.

"I believe all 17 members of the Democratic caucus are behind the minimum wage increase," Scott said.

Scott provided WAVE 3 News with draft legislation that would raise the minimum wage by $2.85 over the next two years, similar to proposals that Republicans have stopped in Congress and the Kentucky General Assembly.

Greater Louisville Inc. officials hadn't seen the draft, but a spokeswoman said the business organization would oppose increasing the local wage beyond the federal level, which is $7.25 an hour.

Doing so would put local employers at a "competitive disadvantage," said Susan Overton, the spokeswoman.

Under the proposal, which Scott said she planned to introduce, the wage would increase in steps, to $8.10 this month, $9.15 in July 2015, and $10.10 a year later.

About 61,000 people in Kentucky's Third Congressional District, which includes the majority of Jefferson County, would be impacted by the increase, Scott said.

The draft legislation exempts tipped employees from the mandate, but would require all other workers in Jefferson County to receive the higher minimum wage. Employers who fail to pay the proper wage would be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, according to the proposal.

Republicans said they had several concerns about how the legislation would impact businesses and the purchasing power of lower-income workers who make slightly more than $10.10.

"What about the individual who is a single parent, raising kids (and making) $11 an hour," said Ken Fleming, a Republican. "That's something that we really have to flesh out."

Fleming pointed to a new law in Seattle, which raises that city's minimum wage to $15 an hour but gives many small businesses up to seven years to comply. Exemptions for certain businesses should be a part of the discussion in Louisville, Fleming said.

Mayor Greg Fischer last week said he would support a gradual increase in the minimum wage, but drew controversy when he said the issue hadn't been a big topic in Louisville.

"Where's he been? We have been discussing this," Fleming said.

Fischer stands by the comment but is aware that some in the community are talking about the issue, said Chris Poynter, a spokesman for Fischer.

Metro Council last month approved legislation that mandates a $10.10 minimum wage for Metro government employees. But only about five employees were affected by the change, Poynter has said.

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