Metro Council members to move forward with minimum wage ordinanc - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Metro Council members to move forward with minimum wage ordinance

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Minimum wage workers could be getting a huge raise, from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour, if some Metro Council members get their way.

A letter from the County Attorney has set up a battle at City Hall over the minimum wage issue. That letter essentially says it's legal for Metro Council to raise the wage even for private businesses in Louisville.

Maggie Harlow opened her sign business in Louisville 11 years ago. She already pays above minimum wage, but supports raising the wage to $10.10 an hour even though it would raise her cost of doing business.

"I don't think it would happen instantaneously but, over time, I think wages would go up. But, again, it speaks to the desire to have quality employees and for me to create a quality of life," said Harlow.

Supporters have been pushing Congress and Kentucky's General Assembly to raise the wage without success. Now an opinion from County Attorney Mike O'Connell gives Metro Council the green light to take up the issue. O'Connell writes that a local government can pass an ordinance that would establish a minimum wage for employers and employees, even if they are in the private sector.

"It means that we can move forward now," said Dist. 6 Council member David James.

James says he'll co-sponsor an ordinance that would phase in a $10.10 an hour minimum wage over three years.

"We have individuals trying to raise families on $7.25 an hour, and you know and I know that's almost impossible," said James.

But Dist. 19 Republican Council member Jerry Miller disagrees.

"For Kentucky, and specifically for Louisville, it's a bad idea," he said.

Miller says raising the wage will put Louisville at a disadvantage with surrounding communities when it comes to attracting business.

"We should really be focusing on ways to attract to start businesses and expand businesses," said Miller.

Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth says raising the wage in Louisville would send a strong message to the rest of the country.

"I think it will show that Louisville is forward-thinking, and has an economy that's growing and wants to grow more," he said.

One thing is certain - it's a coming battle in Metro Council that could, for better or worse, affect everyone's bottom line.

"I think it's a more natural progression to keep moving wages up, and then prices go up and the economy grows," said business owner Harlow.

There are still many unanswered questions. For example, would the wage ordinance apply only within Louisville city limits, or would it also apply to suburban cities such as Jeffersontown and Middletown? Stay tuned.

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