Linn County’s minimum wage increases to $8.25 an hour on January 1, and a dollar-an-hour more on each of the following two New Year’s Days. But municipalities may not follow, including Cedar Rapids, Iowa’s second-largest city.
On a 4-1 vote, Linn’s Board of Supervisors approved the third reading of the ordinance incrementally raising the wage floor to three dollars above current Iowa law by 2019.
Linn joins Johnson County in enacting a county ordinance exceeding state law. Wapello, Lee and Polk Counties are considering the same action. All are hoping to force Iowa legislators to change state law to prevent the patchwork ordinances with varying wage minimums that are emerging across the state.
Wage disparities may be arising even within Linn County. Board Vice Chairman Brent Oleson said indications from the Cedar Rapids City Council are that Iowa’s second-largest city will follow the initial one-dollar wage hike, but the following years’ increases are in question. Oleson speculated that the issue may be part of next year’s Cedar Rapids’ city council elections.
Board chairman, Ben Rogers, said he expects Cedar Rapids, Marion, and Hiawatha to “sign on to the to the first year which will take the minimum wage to $8.25.”
“I think it gets a little more tricky,” Rogers continued, “for Cedar Rapids and Marion which have signaled that they may not be willing to go to $9.25. The ball is now in their court, if they choose not to sign on to the future increases, they have to vote to lower the minimum wage for their communities.”