By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: Newly elected state Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, has requested the drafting of legislation to repeal Nevada’s minimum wage law.
A repeal would have to go to voters, who approved a constitutional amendment in 2006 to set the minimum wage at a higher rate than the federal rate. The current minimum wage in Nevada is $8.25 an hour and took effect on July 1. The federal rate is $7.25 an hour.
If a Nevada employer offers a qualified health plan, the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.
The Nevada Legislature would have to approve a proposed constitutional amendment repealing the minimum wage twice, in 2011 and in 2013, before it could go to a vote of the people in 2014.
Hardy, who has been serving in the Assembly, could not immediately be reached for comment on his purpose for the repeal, although the minimum wage has been blamed by some for stifling job creation, particularly in the current economic slowdown.
Nevada leads the nation in the unemployment rate, which remained at 14.4 percent in September.
Democrats are in control of both the Senate and Assembly in the upcoming session, making passage of such a proposal questionable.
Danny Thompson, executive secretary-treasurer of the Nevada State AFL-CIO, the group that put the minimum wage measure on the ballot through the initiative petition process, said the vote in favor of the measure in 2006 was higher than for any other candidate or issue on the ballot that year.
“On its face it is shortsighted,” he said of the proposed repeal. “People need to make a livable wage.”
Thompson said $8.25 an hour is not a living wage but is an improvement over previous rates. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.
“Truly this thing is the will of the people,” he said. “To go against that flies in the face of our system.”
Thompson said if there is a desire by some to repeal the minimum wage law, they should use the initiative petition process and collect signatures from registered voters to put the proposal on the ballot like proponents of the current law did years ago.
“If they want to overthrow the minimum wage go back to the people.,” he said.
Thompson said any suggestion that Nevada’s minimum wage is having a chilling effect on job creation is not true.
“If anything, it levels the playing field for employers,” he said. “No one is getting rich off that wage.”
Michael Saltsman, research fellow at the Washington, DC-based Employment Policies Institute, said in June that Nevada’s minimum wage was making it particularly tough for teens to find jobs and that the increase on July 1 would make it even worse.
Danny Thompson of the AFL-CIO says a legislative effort to repeal the minimum wage would thwart the will of the voters: