On January 1, 2010 the Kansas minimum wage will increase by $4.60 from $2.65 per hour to $7.25 per hour. The increase is one of the largest in recent memory, dwarfing the three 70-cent increases in the federal minimum wage between July 24, 2007 and July 24, 2009.
It is critical that every employer prominently display a Kansas minimum wage poster, to avoid penalties and fines.
This move puts the Kansas minimum wage on a par with the minimum wages of 28 states including Alaska, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
While having a minimum wage that is the same as the federal minimum wage may not seem like an astounding achievement, it represents a major change in philosophy for Kansas politicians.
The Kansas minimum wage is $2.65 per hour. Kansas currently has the lowest minimum wage of any state, although there are 5 states that do not have a minimum wage at all. They are Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee and South Carolina.
This change affects most employers in Kansas.
The federal minimum wage is governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. FLSA covers employers with annual earnings of at least $500,000, and companies who engage in interstate commerce.
With advanced technology of the Internet, communicating via emails, and accepting credit cards for payment, the majority of Kansas businesses are engaged in interstate commerce. Even if the company doesn’t engage in interstate commerce, an individual employee within the company may, and would be covered by FLSA.
For example, a buyer for a retail store (more…)
A recent report suggests that Kansas employers should be particularly vigilant about safety regulations and equipment on Wednesdays. According to the latest state accident report by the Kansas Department of Labor, more workplace injuries requiring time off occur on Wednesday, than on any other day.
Fort Scott Community College received a grant of almost $2 million to train workers in the construction industry. The grant of $1,994,474 will be used to hire additional faculty and improve the curriculum at the school, located in Fort Smith Kansas. The school has locations in Fort Scott, Pittsburg, Frontenac and Paola. It offers technical training programs in conjunction with local employers John Deere and Harley Davidson, in addition to a Heating and Air Conditioning program.
Garden City Community College received a grant of $1,999,939 for programs to train workers in the construction and energy fields. Garden City CC was established in 1919, one of the state’s first 4 community colleges. The school offers an Associate Degree in Applied Sciences, among other programs.
Kansas has the lowest state minimum wage in the nation, at $2.65 per hour. The next lowest rate is in Georgia, where the state minimum wage is $5.15 per hour. The Kansas rate has remained at that level for more than 20 years. According to Kansas State Representative Tom Sawyer, a Democrat from Wichita, that’s an embarrassment.
The bill before the Senate Commerce Committee was Senate Bill 466. It would have tied the Kansas minimum wage to the federal minimum wage, which is currently $5.85 per hour. This measure would have increased the state minimum wage to $6.55 per hour on July 24, 2008 and to $7.25 per hour on July 24, 2009 when the federal minimum wage increases.
At a committee hearing, advocates for the working poor said the state rate was outdated, unjust and an embarrassment.
“It’s fair, it’s just and something we ought to be doing,” said Sen. Roger Reitz, R-Manhattan.
Minimum wage is a perennial issue in the Kansas legislature. Usually, the bill to increase it is introduced by a Democrat, and defeated by the Republican majority. That’s exactly what happened in March 2008.
“This is a matter of respect for honest work and the people who do it,” said Kansas Representative Stan Frownfelter, a Democrat from Kansas City.
However, the Republican majority believes that wages should be determined by the market, and not set by the state.
Despite the low state minimum wage, the average hourly worker earns more than $7.00 per hour in Kansas as well as other parts of the nation.
Under the federal minimum wage law, the FLSA or Fair Labor Standards Act, most employees in the state are entitled to $5.85 per hour. The FLSA covers employers with more than $500,000 in revenue per year. The federal minimum wage also covers employees who engage in interstate commerce, which is the majority of Kansas workers.
Republican representatives point out that most minimum wage jobs are entry level positions for unskilled workers. As soon as the worker gains skills, he or she is usually paid more.
In this particular case, Representative Mike O’Neal, a Republican representing Hutchinson, moved to send the bill back to committee. The motion passed, effectively killing the bill, at least for this legislative session.
The vote to table the bill was mostly split along party lines, with most Republicans voting for it. However, Representatives Pat Colloton of Leawood and Tim Owens of Overland Park voted to keep the bill on the docket. Both are Republicans.
Many Kansas University students spoke out in favor of the bill.
Only about 19,000 workers in Kansas are actually paid less than $5.85 per hour. Most of them are agricultural or domestic service workers not covered by the federal minimum wage.
There are 12 US states where the state minimum wage is tied to the federal minimum wage. They are Indiana, Idaho, Maryland, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Montana and Nebraska. In addition, the minimum wage for small employers in Ohio is tied to the federal rate. Ohio defines small employers as companies with annual revenues less than $255,000.
Two states, Georgia and Wyoming, have minimum wages still at $5.15 per hour. That is the lowest state minimum wage, other than the rate in Kansas. In those states, increases at the state level have not been voted since the federal minimum wage was passed in 2007.
The federal minimum wage was $5.15 per hour from 1996 to 2007.