Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Republicans need to spend half as much energy fixing the budget as they do overseeing local issues

This afternoon, House Republicans spent valuable time in the second special session discussing a matter of no importance to the legislative call: prohibiting municipalities from establishing or increasing their own minimum wage ordinances.

While the Ways and Means General Fund Budget Committee should be primarily concerned with drafting a state budget, the committee chair brought HB27, sponsored by Rep. Faulkner, in lieu of substantial budget bills. The bill was tabled for a vote on Thursday.

The bill is in response to a recent ordinance passed by the City of Birmingham increasing the minimum wage within Birmingham City Limits to $10.10 over the next two years.

"We worked closely with the Birmingham City Council and local business leaders to establish a wage that is fair to the people and the businesses within the city. These legislators weren't at the table for those discussions, so it isn't their right to come in and tell local government that they don't have the authority to do what's best for the people of their districts," said Le'Darius Hilliard, president of the Jefferson County Young Democrats and leader of the Birmingham initiative.

Representative Darrio Melton agrees. "We've been working on establishing a minimum wage on the state level for two years, and I'm proud to see the City of Birmingham moving in the right direction. This is a prime example of the supermajority running amok with power, overruling any decisions that don't fit with their special interests," Melton says.

The Birmingham ordinance is projected to provide a wage increase for 30,000-40,000 workers within the city, which should deliver a sizable economic boost.

"When families have more money in their pockets, they spend it at the grocery store and buying their children school supplies. These are families who are going to work every day--not asking for handouts. It's time to reward that hard work with fair pay," Melton says.

The legislature has until October 1 to pass a budget or risk massive state agency shutdowns that will obstruct basic government services like driver's license offices.

"The people should be outraged that the Republicans in the legislature are choosing to spend their time playing big-government instead of doing the work they were sent to Montgomery to do. It's time to pass a budget and leave the regular legislative work to the regular legislative sessions," Melton said.

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