The increased minimum wage has passed in the Tennessee House of Representatives, 52 to 43. Still waiting on a Senate vote...
UPDATE: It appears that more amendments, in addition to removing any regulatory enforcement or oversight, have severely gutted the bill. Employers with less than 50 employees appear to be exempt (it is not clear whether this amendment was voted on or included in the bill which passed "as amended").
Another amendment appears to exempt employees who do not have a high school diploma or GED equivalent. (This sounds unconstitutional, and I predict a court challenge.)
It also appears employers are only required to pay half the difference starting in 2007, and the bill will not go into full effect until 2008, depending on the status of these amendments.
There is also a provision that the minimum wage only applies to natural born and naturalized citizens, or workers here on valid work visas. It's hard to argue with that, except the flip side is that they are acknowledging that undocumented workers are a source of cheap labor, and they are still looking the other way to protect it, wink, wink, nudge, nudge. It's illegal to hire illegals, so this provision would seem to be redundant. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Say no more.
So the minimum wage is now effectively voluntary (the only recourse for employees being cheated is to sue their employers, and most will not have the means) and the bill exempts pretty much everyone who might have been covered, including college students, people working for tips, those without a high school diploma, and those working for employers with less than 50 employees.
UPDATE: The KNS has this wire report on the house vote. There's some interesting background.
UPDATE: It appears that the Senate has substituted the House bill as amended, indicated that there might be a vote forthcoming in the Senate this evening.
UPDATE The Tennessee Senate has killed the minimum wage hike. So I reckon that's that.
FOOTNOTE: Working people of Tennessee ought to remember this day come election time, and how Republicans in the Tennessee General Assembly represented them today.
One Republican proposed an amendment increasing the minimum wage to $25 per hour, presumably to make some sort of point. I suppose his point was that government shouldn't interfere with the markets. Yeah, right. Like Tennessee never propped up any tobacco farmers or car manufacturers. And Florida never propped up any sugar plantations. And the federal government never propped up any defense contractors, oil companies, etc. I bet that guy never had to work for minimum wage.
It's a Very Sad Day indeed for Tennessee. Republican legislators and their lobbyist benefactors are no doubt whooping it up at expensive restaurant happy hours right about now. At the same time, some single moms are starting their first shifts on their second jobs to put food on the table for their kids.
At any rate, it should be now be very clear to the working people of Tennessee which party is looking out for their interests and the interests of the least among us, versus who is looking out for big-money special interests.
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