Gov. Bentley signs bill blocking local control over minimum wage

Published: Feb. 25, 2016 at 8:37 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 3, 2016 at 9:05 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WBRC) - Governor Robert Bentley signed a bill into law in Thursday that prevents cities and municipalities from setting their own minimum wage.

This week the Birmingham City Council voted to increase minimum wage to $10.10. Alabama senators voted overwhelmingly to block Birmingham's minimum wage hike on Thursday.

The bill then went to Governor Robert Bentley for review. Bentley's spokeswoman Jennifer Ardis said the Governor will review the bill and then make a decision to sign it or not.

The debate in the Alabama Senate was a bitter one. Lawmakers from Birmingham strongly objecting to the state legislature sticking its nose into decision made by Birmingham.

Birmingham Senator Rodger Smitherman told his colleagues he was offended by their in his words messing with Birmingham.

The argument for the increased minimum wage was the extra money would help stimulate the economy in Jefferson County.

But Republicans countered and argued the extra funding would kill jobs and make it more difficult for small businesses and non-profit organizations.

Vestavia Hills Senator Jabo Waggoner says he got calls from Cerebral Palsy and was told it would cost them $200,000 a year.

"I think it would create chaos in this state if the various municipalities creating their own minimum wage." Waggoner said.

All the senate Democrats and a few Republicans voted against the bill. The final vote was 23-11, with eight Democrats, two Republicans and one independent voting against the bill.

"I believe Alabama is poor by choice because this legislature keeps people poor like this particular legislation," said Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison, a Democrat from Birmingham.

Birmingham's new ordinance calling for the higher minimum wage was set to go into effect Monday after it's published on Sunday.

The Birmingham City Council released this statement on today's development:

Today, Governor Bentley and the Republican-controlled Alabama Legislature dealt a severe blow to the working-class citizens of this state and in particular, the working poor in the City of Birmingham. Once again the GOP has stood with large corporations and the wealthy while telling the average working Alabamian that they're not important. Birmingham City Council President Johnathan Austin released the following statement today regarding their actions today:

"This is a clear indication that the plight of the working class is of no relevance to the GOP. Never before in the history of Alabama's post-segregation era has a bill so detrimental to the very people who most of us depend on daily — the cooks, the waiters and busboys at our favorite restaurants, the barista at our neighborhood coffee shop, the caddy at the local country club and the maids at the hotels that help to boost our local economy — been fast-tracked in the State Legislature. It took less than 10 days for this bill to be debated in both the House and Senate, and signed by the Governor. When the same lawmakers who excitedly give millions of dollars in tax breaks to corporations making millions of dollars in profits off the backs of hardworking Alabamians, do not require these same for-profit businesses to provide a decent living wage to their employees, it's a disgrace and shameful. We were all elected to serve the people and to represent their best interests.

The very people who have refused to expand Medicaid in the state to help the most vulnerable amongst us receive critical medical care, are once again keeping their boots on the necks of people in desperate need of financial relief. People can not pull themselves up by the bootstraps if they can't afford to buy boots.

It is indeed a sad day in the State of Alabama. However, the Birmingham City Council will continue to fight for the people and do what we believe is morally and fundamentally prudent and in their best interests. As an elected official, it is my responsibility to stand and fight for my constituents, and this fight has just begun."

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