Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Kentucky: Minimum Wage Increase Bill #305 Passes--Kentucky Politicians Gut It

(revised, i heard it in passing, was happy that it was passed, and then a good activist friend of mine who has been fighting to get this bill passed told me the bad news...)

I meant to fill you in on this earlier, but we've been in high gear, and I just haven't been able to. It broke my heart to read your happiness for the wage bill passing the house. The thing is, the bill that passed the house--hell, the bill that *went* to the house--was a stripped down version of the bill that you came up and lobbied for.

House leadership--Jody Richards (the gubernatorial candidate) and four others--insisted that J.R Gray file a committee substitute. We didn't find out until the morning of the committee hearing, and the low-wage earners who were there to testify had a heck of a time dealing with the blow. The new bill doesn't index the wage to inflation, it doesn't do anything for tipped employees (though another bill, 206, "raises" their wages to 42% of the minimum wage, and it passed through committee today), and it doesn't fully take effect until 2009. That's a piddly-ass gesture toward economic fairness, especially when so many people in KY--85% from the poll I heard about, though I don't know who did it--supported the raising the wage.

Oh, and also? That tipped employee bill was supposed to raise their wages by 60%, but a committee substitute lowered it to 42%, which is basically what it is now. Rob Ramsey, the owner of the four Ramsey's restaurants in town (one of which I used to work at...horrid), came to testify against the bill. The committee was much more impressed by the tipped worker who testified for a wage raise, paltry as this one is. Ramsey also mentioned that he had the support of the owners of Malone's, Cheddar's, the Keeneland caterers, and Regatta's. I doubt you frequent those places anyway (I'll have to go straight to Missy's to get pie, and bypass Ramsey's altogether), and I suggest we continue that.

I'll keep you posted about what we're going to try to do about this constant lack of leadership in the house.

Could you change your blog, maybe, to give some of the context? It's better than nothing, but it's not nearly what it could have been. As one of our members said, house leadership snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

If you could throw into your blog a congrats to Cara Prince and Leah for the progress that was made on the wage bills..They're the low-wage and tipped workers who worked really hard to get a good, strong bill passed.

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