Proposed bill aims to put limitations on new minimum wage law

Senator Bob Ballinger (KATV Photo)

A new bill making rounds in the state legislature aims to put limitations on the new minimum wage increase voted in by Arkansans last November.

Senate Bill 115 outlines specific groups that would be ultimately exempt from receiving that $11 an hour by 2021. "Now, we have the highest effective minimum wage of any state in the union, and I just think that went too much too far and probably put too much of a squeeze on small businesses, on ministries, on non-profits," said the bill's lead sponsor, Senator Bob Ballinger.

If the bill were to pass, educational institutions, small businesses with fewer than 50 employees, non-profits, and anyone under the age of 18 would not be required to abide by the $11 an hour minimum wage increase. Senator Ballinger added, "The real concern here is the other businesses that are subject to this increase and how are they going to fair, and how are they going to transition. So, in this case, it just gives some limited situations limited relief to lift some pressure off small businesses, ministries, and non-profits."

And when asked if this legislation goes against the will of Arkansas voters she said, "I don't think the people of Arkansas wanted to shut down mom and pops. I don't think the people of Arkansas want to shut down the boys and girls clubs. I don't think the people of Arkansas, when the voted, wanted to make it to where you had to pay a 16-year-old $11 an hour. That wasn't their intent. Their intent was to create a living wage for everybody which I agree with."

Senator Ballinger adds that under this bill, employers who meet any one of the categories would still be subject to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. The bill is still in the introduction stage. It's scheduled to hit the Senate Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee on January 23.

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