Don’t blink in Kentucky, employers. Next time you open your eyes, your state could have a new minimum wage. Kentucky’s minimum wage could soon be $7.25, if a bill that passed the House in the state last week makes its way through the Senate without a hitch.
At the current level, the Kentucky minimum wage is at $5.15 per hour. And the usual argument against that level, as is the argument in the state of Kentucky, is that the state’s working poor cannot make ends meet on that level of income. The House in the state acted on this and passed the new measure.
However, the state Senate, much like the Senate on the federal level, called for tax breaks for small employers and companies in order to help them cope with the increased burden of higher wages for their employees. The opposite side of the argument for the minimum wage is, after all, that the increased minimum wage would hurt employers and thus hurt the employees the law is meant to help, because then employers would hire less and lay more people off.
The bill moves on to the Senate for a vote perhaps next week in Kentucky, so we shall see if we get an answer to this question in the Blue Grass State, as we have been getting answers in some other states. Then you Kentucky employers will know whether or not you need to go out and buy a new Kentucky minimum wage labor law poster, to go along with that new updated federal minimum wage labor law poster you might soon be buying as well.
Both of course, would be necessary any time either the Kentucky minimum wage or the federal minimum wage changes. In either case, or both cases, employers would need to replace their old posters as soon as possible and hand the new ones in their work sites.
South Dakota is one step closer to having a new minimum wage, thanks to activity in its state legislature the past couple days. It would be the first time that the state minimum wage has increased in more than 10 years. Debate is still in the works, but today the Governor, Mike Rounds, actually gave testimony in support of raising the state of South Dakota’s minimum wage to more than $7.
The proposal coming out of the governor’s office calls for the South Dakota minimum wage to go up 70 cents every year for the next three years. The increases would start this coming July. It would be a similar three-part increase as is being considered in the Congress in Washington DC. The only difference is chances are it would start in sooner than the increase in the federal minimum wage.
The House State Affairs Committee followed suit with the governor’s recommendations and passed the bill, unanimously, and moved the bill on to full consideration by the state House. However, in passing the bill along, the House members added one fold to the bill that had not been in the original governor’s bill. The House committee added an amendment to the bill that made it so the new minimum wage in the state would not go into effect until the federal minimum wage increases.
That means that—if the bill passes the full House and then the Senate in South Dakota—workers in the state will not get a minimum wage increase until the federal minimum wage increases. That, my friends, is still in the works. I am working on uncovering the latest details of who is debating on the Hill and what they are debating, to see how far along compromise is on the tax breaks for small businesses that are now tied to the fate of the federal minimum wage.
Remember that issue we spoke about a few weeks back about Los Angeles employers near the international airport that were facing a separate living wage just for their employees? The living wage was specific to certain hotels near the city’s airport. But a judge has now blocked that living wage, so that employers do no currently have to pay it to their employees.
It was a Superior Court judge who just today said that the living wage law would be stayed and not allowed to go into effect, until at least she held a full hearing on the law on May 11 of this year. It was actually the hotel owners who hired the lawyers and got the stay. They say that the law that was about to go into effect was too similar to the one that city council had just repealed under political pressure (which was the subject of out last report on this topic).
At the heart of the argument is that the new law that the town council is trying to get passed has a similar living wage increase to it, similar to the first law that the council last month had decided to rescind.
Under the new law, employees at the local hotels would get a pay raise in July up to a minimum of $9.39 per hour with health insurance provided, or $10.64 per hour without health insurance. The following January, the workers would get an increase on that minimum wage based on what the inflation rate was. The bill would have also included $1 million in street improvements around the airport, as well as $50,000 in marketing and studies on how to reduce taxes for businesses and increase construction in the area.
But those added incentives were not enough to convince the hotel owners to go along with the new living wage bill.
The health care plans are coming out of the woodwork it seems. Just yesterday we talked about the health care reform plan from the folks at the hospital association. Now we have another one to talk about, this one emanating from the legislature from the state of California. It is an important counterweight to the health care reform plan that came out of Cali last month, from the Governator.
This plan is coming from Democrat Senator Sheila Kuehl, from Santa Monica, who says that the Arnold plan actually kow tows to the health insurance companies too much. Her plan is to set up a single payer health care system. This is the third time as a senator that Sen. Kuehl has tried to pass some sort of similar legislation. We can only wait and see if this bill gets more traction this time around in Sacramento. Last year, Sen. Kuehl’s bill actually passed both housed of the California Assembly, but then the Governator vetoed it.
The bill calls for basically the end of private health care insurance in the state. Instead, the bill would set up a state agency, funded by payroll taxes and income taxes, which would then be the fund that all residents would dip into to pay for medical services and case.
The Governator’s plan, on the other hand, which he released details on last month, would make it that all individuals and employers in the state would have to carry some sort of health care plan. It would also provide for low income families and residents by giving them subsidized health care insurance rates.
Sen. Kuehl, however, says that her plan is the only way to make sure that every resident in the state gets health care, while maintaining low health care costs and the integrity of the state budget.
There are new unemployment insurance contribution rates in the state of Massachusetts for the year 2007. Those include rates for a positive balance employer under the Schedule D range of 1.12 percent to as much as 5.48 percent. Rates for negative balance employers range from 6.46 percent to 10.96 percent at the highest. For the year 2007, the solvency assessment rate is about 1.19 percent.
Other important rates to know for the unemployment system in the state of Massachusetts include a 2.53 percent rate for new nonconstruction employers. For new construction employers, the rate is 7.12 percent in 2007. Also, the Workforce Training Fund contribution rate is 0.06 percent of the taxable wages.
What all of these numbers mean for employers in the state of Massachusetts is that, first, if you are a new employer in the state, you must register with the unemployment insurance system in the state government. This system takes in money from employers, based on a percentage of payroll, saves that money and uses it to pay out unemployment benefits to laid off workers. For new employers, this contribution percentage rate is generally set by your business type, such as nonconstruction or construction in this case in Massachusetts.
If you are an employer that has been around for more than a year or two, then your percentage payment to the unemployment system depends not only on what industry you are in, but it also depends on how well your experience rating is. An experience rating is based on how on time you pay your unemployment bills, if you pay them at all, as well as how many employees you have laid off recently. For instance, the more folks you lay off, the worse your experience rating will be—because in essence you are “burdening” the unemployment system more than other employers.