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Colorado Greens propose bill for local control of minimum wage

p harry hempyFrom the Denver Post:

The governor’s race is over, but Harry Hempy and Green Party leaders in Boulder County and surrounding areas haven’t given up their fight for local control over minimum wages.

The Greater Boulder Green Party — which also includes members from Broomfield and Gilpin counties — adopted a resolution on Dec. 4 asking the state legislature to allow towns, cities and counties to set a local minimum wage based on the local cost of living. To do that means repealing a 1999 law that gave that power to the state.

The Boulder County Commission also is on record in favor of a hike in the state’s $8-an-hour minimum wage or turning over the authority to local leaders. The issue is especially important in communities where the cost of living is high, and people who earn at the bottom of the pay scale are still needed to fill jobs in those communities.

“It makes no sense to have a uniform minimum wage for all Coloradans when the cost of living varies by” so much, said Hempy, the state Green Party’s gubernatorial nominee this year.

Rep. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, is set to introduce the bill in the session that starts Jan. 7, Hempy said.

“I have met with all the state legislators from Boulder County and I believe the bill will be well-received by most of them,” he said.

Hempy said while the economy is doing well, workers continue to fall behind. He said providing a minimum wage that workers might live on would ease demand on taxpayers for public assistance to the working poor.

The Green Party’s full resolution states:

Greater Boulder Green Party
Boulder, Broomfield and Gilpin Counties

RESOLUTION FOR LOCAL CONTROL OF MINIMUM WAGES IN COLORADO

WHEREAS the state of Colorado prohibited local units of government from establishing a minimum wage by passing SB99-014, thus forcing all municipalities and counties in Colorado to accept the state’s minimum wage regardless of the local cost of living,

And whereas real median income in Colorado has fallen annually since the turn of the century and the downward trend has accelerated since the bank and mortgage crises of 2008,

And whereas the cost of living varies greatly across Colorado, making it impossible for the state to set a standard minimum wage that meets the needs of workers throughout the state,

And whereas the state minimum wage, currently $8.00 per hour, provides full-time workers with poverty-level compensation in many parts of the state,

And whereas a living wage reduces employee turnover, absenteeism and disciplinary problems,

And whereas a living wage improves employee morale, productivity, and customer service,

And whereas the supply side economic theory that raising pay necessarily causes job loss has been disproved over and over again by rigorous research over the past fifteen years (see “The Job Loss Myth” for a summary of recent research),

And whereas poverty-level wages place a burden on state and local government revenues for public assistance programs,

And whereas cities in other states, including California, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico and Washington, have raised their minimum wages,

BE IT RESOLVED that the Colorado General Assembly end statewide control of the minimum wage by repealing SB99-014, thus enabling towns, cities and counties in Colorado to establish local minimum wages commensurate with the local cost of living.

Adopted December 11, 2014
Kevin Alumbaugh and Susan Hall, Chapter Co-chairs

Dave Schwab

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