Louisville Democrats to begin $10.10 minimum wage push - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Louisville Democrats to begin $10.10 minimum wage push

David James (Source: Greg Schapker, WAVE 3 News) David James (Source: Greg Schapker, WAVE 3 News)
Vicki Aubrey Welch (Source: Greg Schapker, WAVE 3 News) Vicki Aubrey Welch (Source: Greg Schapker, WAVE 3 News)
Jim King (Source: Greg Schapker, WAVE 3 News) Jim King (Source: Greg Schapker, WAVE 3 News)
Marilyn Parker (Source: Greg Schapker, WAVE 3 News) Marilyn Parker (Source: Greg Schapker, WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - As soon as next week, three Metro Council Democrats will roll out their plan to raise Louisville's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. The controversial proposal will move forward after Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell said no Kentucky law stops Metro Council from raising Louisville's minimum wage above the rest of the state.

Councilman David James (D-District 6), who along with Barbara Shanklin (D-District 2) and Attica Scott (D-District 1) are the three primary sponsors, said O'Connell's opinion ended one challenge for supporters of an increase.

"For some people who will argue against it based on a legal standing, it takes away that argument," James said.

All 17 Democrats, who together control the Metro Council, have publicly endorsed a minimum wage increase. But details will determine whether the often-divided Democratic Caucus stays together.

"I think, generally, we have support on this issue," said Democratic leader Vicki Aubrey Welch (District 13). "But the details need to be worked out."

Potential issues include: how high to raise the minimum wage, what the rate for tipped employees will be, how long businesses will have to begin paying the new rate, and what types of businesses will be exempt.

Council President Jim King (D-District 10) said he would ask for input from Republicans and business owners. King called for moderation to make sure the Metro Council wasn't overstepping, but agreed the issue would be a priority for the rest of 2014.

Republicans said they remained opposed to a local minimum wage increase because it would make Louisville less competitive for attracting new businesses.

"They either have to raise their prices, eliminate jobs or not hire," said Councilwoman Marilyn Parker (R-District 18).

Republicans cited a report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office that predicted job losses of 500,000 positions after implementing a $10.10 minimum wage nationwide. In fact, the CBO projects the U.S. could lose between zero and 1 million jobs under the policy.

Supporters point to the same report that shows a minimum wage increase would lift 900,000 people out of poverty. Oxfam America has predicted that 61,000 people in Louisville would benefit from a wage hike.

“I believe that Democrats – and, hopefully, Republicans – will all come on board, and we'll help 61,000 people in our community,” James said.

Some supporters of a minimum wage increase have been frustrated by what they see as Mayor Greg Fischer's inaction on the issue. Fischer suggested earlier this summer that the minimum wage hadn't been a big topic in Louisville. Tuesday, Fischer said he would seek compromise.

“We'll be reviewing the (County Attorney's) opinion and will be working with the Metro Council and businesses and community leaders to determine if there is common ground that we can reach on the minimum wage,” Fischer said in a statement.

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