AG’s office effectively kills sub-minimum wage bill

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Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley (D-Tucson) recently wrote for the blog, #AZ House Republicans Pass $7.25/hour Minimum Wage for Students (video):

The worst vote of the 54th session has to be the Republican passage of the sub-minimum wage on Thursday. Rep. Travis Grantham’s HB2523 would allow employers to pay full time students, who work part time and are under 22, the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour, instead of the voter-approved minimum wage of $11/hour.

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This vote needed 3/4 on HB2523 because it is an attempt to change the voter-approved Prop 206 Citizens Initiative that raised the minimum wage in 2016. During the COW debate, I proposed an amendment to add a Prop 105 vote to HB2523, but Republicans said it was not necessary. (The Rules Attorneys said it was necessary. Who are you going to believe?)

The Senate Commerce Committee approved the bill, as amended, on a party-line vote. The Arizona Capitol Times reports, Minimum wage change passes out of Senate committee:

Legislation to allow employers to pay some young people less than the voter-mandated minimum wage cleared a crucial hurdle Thursday after its sponsor agreed it would not be tied to whether the worker was in school.

[G]one will be the provision sought by Rep. Travis Grantham, R-Gilbert, that the sub-minimum wage would apply only to those who are full-time students.

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In fact, Grantham told Capitol Media Services that, at Pace’s behest, he will make an even bigger change: The sub-minimum wage would apply only to those who are not supporting themselves and their families.

That was enough to get Pace’s vote and have the measure clear the Commerce Committee on a 4-3 vote. It now goes to the full Senate.

Thursday’s vote came after the Republicans who dominate the committee opted to ignore a legal memo prepared by Ken Behringer, general counsel of the nonpartisan Legislative Council, declaring that HB 2523 runs afoul of the state minimum wage proposal approved by voters in 2016.

He wrote that the plain language of that measure applies to all employees, regardless of age. And that, Behringer said, means it is subject to a constitutional provision which forbids lawmakers from tinkering with anything voters have approved.

Grantham dismissed that memo, saying he has contrary advice from a House staff attorney.

As always, our lawless Tea-Publican legislators do not care about the rule of law. “I am the law!” is their attitude.

The Senate Rules Committee delayed action on the bill Monday after requesting more legal analysis.

Once again, our lawless Tea-Publican legislators are wrong and Rep. Powers Hannley stands vindicated. Thanks to the Attorney General’s office, the sub-minimum wage bill is now effectively dead. The Arizona Capitol Times reports, Attorney General: Lower youth minimum wage needs 3/4th vote:

The Arizona attorney general says a Republican legislative proposal allowing lower minimum wages for young workers attending school needs a three-fourth vote to pass constitutional muster.

The opinion by Deputy Solicitor General Rusty D. Crandell released Thursday mirrors concerns by two legislative lawyers.

All three cited the Voter Protection Act, which prevents lawmakers from changing voter-approved laws unless they have a super-majority vote and the change “furthers the purpose” of the law.

Arizona’s voter-mandated minimum wage is now $11 an hour. Republican Rep. Travis Grantham’s bill would let full-time students under 22 earn the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.

The House passed the proposal in February on a 31-29 vote without Democrat support. The Senate Rules Committee delayed action on the bill Monday after requesting more legal analysis.

There are no Democratic votes for this bill, so there is no path to a three-quarters vote. The sub-minimum wage bill is now effectively dead.

By the way … the legislature has an “aspirational” goal of completing its work within 100 days. April 23rd is the 100th day of the session. This is slightly more than two weeks away, and yet has anyone heard anything at all about the state budget, which is negotiated in secret between the GOP legislative leaders and the governor’s office (and their GOP lobbyists), to the exclusion of the Democratic leadership?

The hold up appears to be over income tax conformity with the Trump tax law, and the new $32 vehicle registration tax – the one our governor insists isn’t a tax. The state is receiving additional tax revenue from these changes and, as always, Republicans are opposed to any tax increase, they demand revenue neutral. Gov. Ducey wants the benefit of the additional tax revenue while pretending that it is not the result of GOP tax increases, because he promised not to increase taxes.

Wrap up this session and declare sine die before Tea-Publicans can do any more damage to this state.

UPDATE: The Senate Rules Committee decided Monday that the proposal by Rep. Travis Grantham, R-Gilbert, would require a three-fourths vote for approval. Proposal to lower minimum wage for young workers dead:

[This] is based on the conclusion by Senate staff attorney Chris Kleminich that HB 2523 would effectively amend two separate public votes to create and raise the state’s minimum wage.

But it isn’t just Kleminich who contends HB 2523 can’t go anywhere without a three-fourths vote.
Last month, Ken Behringer, general counsel of the nonpartisan Legislative Council, declared that HB 2523 runs afoul of what voters have approved. He wrote that the plain language of that measure applies to all employees, regardless of age. And that, Behringer said, means it is subject to the constitutional requirement for the three-fourths vote.

And just last week, in an informal legal opinion, the Attorney General’s Office reached the same conclusion.

Even before Monday’s decision by the Rules Committee, there was some doubt whether the measure could have garnered a simple majority.