The bill to prevent Idaho localities from setting their own minimum wage rates won approval in a Senate committee Wednesday on a party line vote.
The Local Government and Taxation committee’s vote sends the bill to the Senate floor with a recommendation to approve it. The House passed the measure last week, also on a straight party line.
Idaho’s minimum wage is set at the federal rate of $7.25 an hour. Before the committee Wednesday, lobbyists for retailers and business associations who backed the bill steered the debate away from how high the minimum should be.
"This isn't a discussion about the minimum wage. It’s about who should make that decision, and it should be the state," said Pam Eaton, president of the Idaho Retailers Association.
But opponents said resistance to a higher minimum wage was the driving rationale for the bill. The bill would block local jurisdictions from setting a higher minimium wage even by public referendum.
"Most of the votes that will be cast here today and on the Seante floor will have nothing to do with whether this legislatiob is actually needed or not. It will have everythin g to do with how people view the minimum wage," said Sen. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise.
Burgoyne and Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, cast the only votes against the measure.