The new Republican president of the Iowa Senate says his party is discussing a new statewide minimum wage law after some Iowa cities and counties acted independently to increase their minimum wage.
The statewide wage was last raised in 2007 to $7.25 an hour when Democrats controlled the legislature and the governor’s office.
Senate President Jack Whitver (R-Ankeny) says lawmakers are hearing concerns that the wage is now different, depending on which county or city you live in.
"We're still in discussions about that,” Whitver said. “I know there are people who have contacted us, members who have contacted us, who are interested in making it uniform across the state."
"We'll see what the Republicans want to do on this and we will respond," said Senate Minority Leader Rob Hogg (D-Cedar Rapids).
Under a new Linn County ordinance, the minimum wage will go up to $10.25 an hour by 2019.
Hogg says local governments who have already raised their lowest-allowable wage should not be forced to reduce it under a new statewide law.
"I don't think they want to be in a position where they're driving the minimum wage down in various places in Iowa, so at least accommodate those counties that have already increased the minimum wage,” Hogg said.
"Ultimately what that bill looks like we don't know yet but there is an appetite to do some pre-emption," Whitver said.
Linn, Polk, Wapello, and Johnson Counties approved a higher countywide minimum wage. But not all towns in those counties have gone along.
“People have made decisions appropriate for their counties,” said Rep. Jo Oldson (D-Des Moines). “Whatever reform we come up with I hope it doesn’t lower the level from what the local communities have been doing.”
Governor Branstad has expressed concern about the “hodge-podge” of minimum wage laws being enacted around the state.
“It would be my hope after the election to sit down with leaders in both houses of the legislature to see if we can reach agreement,” Branstad said earlier this year.
Branstad signed a higher statewide minimum wage into law in 1990.
“The question is can we achieve a bipartisan consensus on what would be a reasonable and fair level,” Branstad said.